The more you use the internet, the more that your data is exposed in various parts of the online realm, even in apps and sites that you don’t even remember using. This is where Israeli startup MINE comes into the picture, enabling users to regain power over their personal data, while erasing existing info that lay in the wrong hands. Today (Wednesday), less than a year after coming out from stealth mode with Seed funding, MINE announced another funding round. The investment was led by the VC arm of the company that pretty much owns all of the world’s data - Google.
Allowing you to control your own data
MINE’s system attaches itself to users’ email and scans the subject line (without collecting info from the body of the mail), in order to determine if the current interaction shows if the contacting company has any data on you.
This leads the user to comprehend where their info is being kept, who is doing the keeping, and what the ramifications are? If the user wants, then they can use the system to send a request to erase the data from where it’s being kept, and the system will transfer the message depending on location and both private and corporate privacy laws.
Planning a trip abroad? Be prepared to release your data on at least 6 companies
In a conversation with Geektime, CEO and co-founder Gal Ringel shares that on average, user data is being held by at least 350 entities, with Israel above average at around 450. “Every month the average number increases by 8 companies, with March’s COVID lockdowns leading to a 55% increase because we were all forced to move our lives online.”
According to Ringel, almost every action, no matter how trivial, that we perform online leads to our data spreading to different corners of the internet. For example, going abroad increases the spread of our data by 6 new companies on average. “Our product goal is to help users reduce their personal data exposure online to help reduce the risk of our private info falling into the wrong hands,” claims Rigel.
MINE’s B2C system is still free for use, though Ringel reveals that he believes that early 2021 will see the company start to charge a couple of dollars for a monthly subscription to the service. The question behind their business model had us pondering quite a bit ourselves, assuming that MINE can really erase your data from the internet with a click of a button. Rigel explains that it’s not a one-time thing and that users should expect to embark on a “journey” with the system. As things develop, more and more data-hunting services will be added. MINE is designed to be used once a week, or even only once a month.
Ringel continues to add that MINE also provides users with insight like apps and services that should be erased, or alerting about companies that have been recently hacked, and more. Down the road, MINE expects to launch an easy-to-operate B2B model, which will offer enterprises a remote “erase data” solution for managing requests.
So why is Google investing in a startup that erases valuable data?
Today (Wednesday), MINE announced a $9.5 million Series A funding round with participation from Battery Ventures, e.Ventures, MassMutual Ventures, and Saban Ventures. Though the most interesting financial backer leading the round was Gradient Ventures, which is an AI-focused venture capitalist arm of Google. This marks its first Israeli investment ever.
It’s hard not to wonder what Google, the company that contains most of the world’s data, is looking for in a company that aims to do the opposite and erase user data from even Google’s reach. Ringel asks to separate the VC fund and the search engine giant: “The AI-focused VC fund is not tied to Google’s business model, and is actually purposely separated due to this reason. As a rule, Google’s VC arm is strictly a financial backer and not a strategical one. This means that Google has no access or say regarding MINE’s technology or business model.”
In addition, Ringel states that despite the investment, users will still be able to erase their data from Google via MINE’s technology. With that in mind, Ringel notes that according to company analytics, it seems as if users don’t want to use MINE’s service to erase their Google stored info. “At the end of the day, it’s all about choice and control. We are here to provide users with complete objective visibility over their personal info whereabouts, and empower them with data management tools.”
Based on company reports, the current funding round, which was done entirely by remote, comes only 9 months after the company completed its Seed round. Now, less than a year later, MINE has increased its users by over 100k, which have sent 1.3 million data-erase requests. “As part of this announcement, we are launching MINE V2, which includes new features that reveal who these companies are and what they are doing with our data. Furthermore, the new version will provide a digital risk calculator.”
Ringel further reveals that the company is responsible for 90% of global erase-requests, leading to many companies inquiring how they can improve their privacy. To those companies inquiring, MINE will offer its B2B tool. “And most important,” says Ringel, “we are growing. Today, we already have 16 team members, and each one’s footprint on our collective vision is definitely felt.”
The company is based out of its Tel Aviv offices, and plans to continue recruiting talent over the next few months. The incredible minds behind MINE are 3 experienced entrepreneurs who met during their military service: CEO Gal Ringel, CTO Gal Golan, and CPO Kobi Nissan, who stem from the worlds of cyber and venture capital. MINE is an alumnus of Intel’s Ignite accelerator program’s first batch.