Posted on: Friday 4th of October 2013
CTRLio is a digital profile management service which aims to help users control and benefit from their personal data. By handing back control of personal data assets to individuals CTRLio believes businesses will develop more engaging commerce. The London-based company recently won investment from Seedcamp, a seed investment company specialising in innovative tech startups. We spoke to CPO and co-founder Dominic Strowbridge to find out more about the business.
1. What’s the big benefit your service is designed to offer?
CTRLio helps customers manage their digital profiles and use the information they contain. We’ve designed our service to give customers total control over what data is shared with whom and for what purpose, whilst adopting an open source approach that will encourage developers to offer new and imaginative ways for customers to benefit from their own data. CTRLio never sells customers’ data; we just help them discover ways of using it to save money and time.
2. What inspired/motivated you to start doing this?
Whether it’s the constant barrage of irrelevant offers or the effort it takes to find products and services that are right for us, we can all recognise the signs that the connected economy is not working well in favour of the consumer. We are caught in a negative spiral, with businesses tracking more of our activities in order to make better targeted offers, but consumers getting increasingly uncomfortable about the way this personal data is used. To break the cycle, consumers need an efficient way to tell businesses who they are, what they want and when. We believe the personal digital profiles that CTRLio helps consumers to manage will be the key to making this communication simple and safe.
As a team, we have worked in mobile and software for over 20 years, using the unique qualities of the mobile ecosystem to create highly personalised services. With the growing concerns about personal data misuse, we believe the market is now ready for this big step towards authentically personalised services that use self-managed digital profiles.
3. How big is the market opportunity for your service?
The opportunities for consumers are absolutely huge: every service, every product, every interaction could be personalised to your specific needs. Instead of searching to find the best deals for your household bills, your profile would know when services need to be renewed and could get the best offers for you automatically – saving you time and potentially money. The price comparison industry in the UK was worth over £1bn last year. The opportunities for businesses are immense too. Whilst $165Bn was spent on direct marketing in the US last year, over 95% of that expenditure resulted in irrelevant offers or adverts. Imagine if the direct marketing industry could check self-managed profiles efficiently; a huge amount of that money could be saved or re-allocated. There is value all over the personalisation space.
4. What is the business model? How do you/will you earn your keep?
Customers won’t pay to reclaim and manage their digital profiles. We will charge businesses to take part in the marketplace where customers actively share relevant parts of their profiles.
5. Where would you like to be in 3-5 years’ time?
We believe that there will be a seismic shift towards self-managed profiles in the next four years as customers discover all the ways they can benefit from them. Big data collecting businesses are going to have to change their approach to personal data, recognising that the best place for a ‘master copy’ of a digital profile is with the end customer. We will be the leading service provider for self-managed digital profiles and how they are used.
6. What obstacles will you need to overcome to get there?
There are the obvious obstacles, like access to personal data, which will take time to overcome. The Midata Initiative has done a great job in highlighting this problem and getting some concrete changes in place. The biggest challenge that we are addressing is how to convey the vast array of opportunities in a simply engaging experience for the customer, so that they enjoy the benefits of self-managing their digital profiles without becoming overwhelmed by all the possibilities.
7. Have you got any more general thoughts or views about the changing personal data landscape you would like to share?
There is too much focus on the technology/standards/privacy/security aspects of personal data and not enough on the potential uses/applications/benefits for both consumers and businesses alike. CTRLio was set up to address the latter.
To find out more about CTRLio watch this video.