In our latest founder feature, we’re talking to Gal Ringel, founder of Mine, the company helping people to locate and take back control of their data.
From writing code as a young boy to being drafted by the cybersecurity division of the Israeli military, the founder journey of Mine’s Gal Ringel is fascinating.
Read on below to find out more.
Q: Who are you and what is your story?
A: I was writing code and hacking stuff since I was really young, around 8 years old, and this is what eventually got me drafted to the 8200 unit in the Israeli army. The 8200 is the cybersecurity unit of the Israeli Military Intelligence. I had a long army service of 6 years and was released as an officer with a Captain rank. I did a lot of cybersecurity engineering and team-leading. After my army service, I did a few other engineering roles, and after 10 years of hands-on technology, I decided to change my career to the business side, with the purpose of starting my own startup but taking a business position. So I had to acquire business skills such as product, marketing, business orientation, finance, HR, etc, since all I knew back then, was tech.
Somehow I found myself joining the Venture Capital community in Israel, working for two US corporations as an investor. My first two years were with Nielsen, the US market research company, investing in Israeli early-stage startups (seed and A) around consumer, media, mobile, etc. It was an eye-opening experience for me. Then I moved on to an additional two and a half years with Verizon Ventures, the US Telco, investing in later-stage startups (A-C). Overall, I had the chance to invest in 20+ amazing startups in the Israeli ecosystem, deploying a total of $50m, and I learned so much during this time on how startups are operating and how venture capital is done. I was also lucky to be chosen for the Forbes 30 under 30 in 2017.
Now I’m the CEO and co-founder at Mine. Mine is a personal data assistant, enabling digital users to discover and manage their personal data online. I invite you to check it out at saymine.com and take ownership of your data online.
Q: Could you tell us about your company and what you’re striving to achieve?
A: Mine is a smart data assistant (B2C) that enables digital users to discover and manage their personal data online. We are passionate about empowering millions of people worldwide to take ownership of their personal data and minimize online risks without changing their online behavior. With Mine, you can keep your data only where you want it, so you can enjoy the internet, feeling safe and secure. You’ll be surprised to know that the average user has 350 companies holding his sensitive data, which is massive! In the US it’s even bigger with 550 companies on average.
We’ve raised $12.5M in funding from top tier US and EU investors, and received massive international coverage by publishers such as VentureBeat, TechCrunch, FastCompany, and Business Insider.
Q: What made you decide to take on the challenge of funding your business?
A: We are three co-founders at Mine, and when we sat together to think about what problem we want to solve, we quickly realized that we all REALLY understand personal data and data privacy, since we dealt with that throughout our entire careers, from all different angles. Also, we TRULY understand how valuable and precious it is to each one of us, as well as how easily our personal data can be used against us in many ways. In an era, where every day there is a new data breach and privacy scandal, we wanted to bring a solution that will help consumers worldwide be digitally safer online. At the same time, at the end of 2017, we saw the GDPR being legislated and about to come into force later in 2018, and we saw the potential of this amazing regulation, which changed the history of the internet, by defining consumer data as a personal asset including powerful rights on it. As a team, we knew that this regulation wouldn’t be accessible to the mass market without a proper product that will make it accessible. And this is how we started working on Mine.
For years, people said privacy is dead and accepted the fact that they can’t do anything about it. In most cases they are right. Privacy was always about putting fences around us. Keeping us from sharing our personal data with others. But by doing so, we miss out on all the fun.
Honestly, consumers who stop sharing is not the solution, that would just be avoiding the problem. We believe that people should use the internet without worrying about what will happen to their personal data.
The truth is, that privacy has evolved. I suggest we rethink the problem and instead of thinking about data privacy, we think about data ownership.
Now, with the GDPR, CCPA, LGDD, and other regulations in place, we can live without fences, and share whatever we want, with whoever we want – and be able to take it back whenever we choose!
Data ownership is a fundamental human right that must be accessible to everyone. And Mine will make sure it will be a top priority for both companies and consumers.
Q: What is the core technology driving Mine’s service?
A: Our technology is divided in three pillars:
- Mine identifies companies using email history
Mine’s proprietary non-intrusive AI algorithm identifies companies that are most likely to have collected the user’s personal data, based on the subject lines in their inbox without reading or collecting the body of the emails. Mine is able to identify dozens of different types of data interactions across 10 different languages.
2. Proprietary AI cross-checks privacy policies
To identify the type of data that was collected, Mine’s AI then analyzes the companies’ privacy policies to determine the data that they collected about customers and whether they are currently selling or sharing it with third parties.
3. Mine maps out data spread and provide steps to minimize risk
Mine calculates an individual risk score for every user and provides recommendations on how to improve their digital footprint. With Mine, consumers on average reduce their digital footprint by 40%.
Q: What’s most exciting about your traction to date?
A: We first launched our product in Europe early this year, and since then we’re growing very fast with more than 100,000 users who’ve already sent more than 1,000,000 deletion requests worldwide, and to date, Mine is accountable for 90% of the global right-to-be-forgotten requests. I’m also happy to have announced the launch of our product in the US to empower all Americans as well as securing an additional $9.5M in funding to fuel our vision.
The most exciting part is our user’s feedback. Getting up every morning and hearing about how we are helping people gain the confidence of using the internet and that they feel in control of their data is everything!
Q: What are the future implications of the technology you are developing?
A: By making privacy regulations such as the GDPR and CCPA accessible to millions of people, we are able to provide consumers worldwide access and control to their personal data. We’re powering the future of data ownership which means:
Accessibility – Every consumer on the internet has the right to understand which companies have collected his or her data, what do they do with it, and whether it creates a digital exposure or risk for him.
Choice – Every consumer should have the right to choose what companies are doing with its data. Switching the mindset from – companies dictating the terms and where we all have to click “I Agree”, to a world where consumers can decide. Thanks to the GDPR and other privacy regulations, this is how we make it happen.
But not only that, but we also provide:
A no fences experience – no behavior change, Mine fits into your daily life. You can enjoy your life and use the internet without changing anything related to your habits, but while being in control, since Mine is on top of your data, and you have the choice to send reclaim requests whenever you want. We’ve got your back. While you continue to enjoy the internet, we’ll keep a close eye to make sure you are still in control of your data. It’s all about transparency and choice.
An easy and simple experience to fit the average user. The majority of the privacy and security products were targeting mostly tech-savvies and cyber experts. We took a different approach, to build a product that fits the mainstream user, through a simple and friendly interface and experience to ease the use.
Q: What has surprised you in your journey so far?
A: The amount of traction and love we received from so many people worldwide, proved to ourselves and the world that consumers did not give up on their privacy, and if you design a product that would be very easy and friendly to use, people will use it, and on a large scale.
Q: Can you tell us who your mentors and heroes are, and what impact they’ve had on you?
A: Elon Mask. He is a great example of how to be fearless, go after your most extreme dreams, and make them a reality. This person never stops and works night and day to make our world a better place, and it’s really inspiring.
Q: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to budding innovators taking the same journey?
A: My advice, “Success is a management of failures” and therefore my motto: “Do not be afraid to take risks and experience failures. This is how we learn best!”