Since the advent of the internet, websites have been storing all kinds of visitor data – for all kinds of reasons.
With identity theft soaring to new heights and sophisticated scammers lurking, protecting our online data has never been more important. However, even with the mandatory changes implemented by the EU’s GDPR policy, many businesses are still confused!
A 2020 study of more than 800 IT and business professionals responsible for data privacy at companies with European customers revealed over 50% of businesses know little or nothing about GDPR.
Despite the fact the deadline for GDPR compliance was May 25th, 2018, only 20% of businesses believed they were GDPR compliant in 2020. Perhaps more worryingly, over 1 in 4 companies (27%) had yet to begin working towards GDPR compliance!
By 2024, more than 80% of organizations worldwide will face modern privacy and data protection requirements.
Alex Franch Tapia and Manuel Martinez Chamorro set out to transform the GDPR compliance journey for fellow founders when they created their startup Privasee. Addition are proud to support Alex and Manuel as clients, and welcome them to When It All Adds Up!
What inspired you to start Privasee?
It was one of those stories where you’ve gone through the pain yourself and you realize it sucks.
At the beginning, my co-founder and I were doing another startup. It was about staying connected without having Facebook selling our data. So we created an app with a fancy encryption algorithm that allows you to do that. But we wanted to make sure that people that are trusting us with their data weren’t being let down. We wanted to make sure that we kept that data as secure as we would like our data to be kept, and it just wasn’t happening.
Us engineers can obsess about processes. We weren’t satisfied with this one and decided something had to change. Every company must be able to protect the data of their customers, right? Not only is the moral thing to do, but it’s a fundamental right – one that is being taken away a little at a time. And it needs to be preserved.
Privacy is still considered vital in other aspects of life – such as going to the bathroom and getting changed. We should be able to choose our levels of digital privacy as well. That’s why we started this project and well, here we are today – re-launching our product 15th of November.
Can you tell us about your product?
We’re launching something called GDPR Essentials. It’s the first tool out there that you don’t need a consultant’s help to be able to fill in and use.
How it works is: we ask some questions about your business, such as your product or service offering, what industry you’re in, what data you process etc.
Your information is always up to date, and your certificate can be verified in order to demonstrate to stakeholder, investors, potential partners or bigger customers (like banks) that you’re following GDPR best practices.
What obstacles have you faced so far?
We failed so many times!
At the start, we knew absolutely nothing about our market space, and had zero connections in the industry. We applied to so many pitching competitions and accelerators, and we just got rejected.
At some point in our journey, we were like, ‘Wow, we’re not solving a problem for anyone’. We asked the right questions to the wrong people and then – boom, everything came down. Then there were a very difficult couple of months where we were reinventing ourselves – really pushing and asking and reading legislation.
One of the biggest challenges for us was figuring out ‘What’s the problem that’s worth solving in the industry- and how do we get there?’ In this market, you ask the customer and the customer knows absolutely nothing about GDPR.
The customer just wants enough to show that they’re compliant. So, it’s about taking time to understand that need and the best, most efficient way to deliver it.
Any ‘Wow’ moments you’d like to share?
There seems to be a recurring pattern when things go from bad to worse – then suddenly something clicks, and the situation improves.
We’ve been very lucky with referrals. A lot of clients come from our personal relationships with people. We really like to understand the person on the other side of the screen and get to know them – which makes getting clients via referrals a special moment every time.
Another cool moment was when we closed our first round in eight weeks. It made us realize that we have something special in terms of team, product idea and passion.
Lastly, we attended Startup Bootcamp – one of the best accelerators in the world. We were pitching against former CEOs of big companies and founders that had already sold a business.
It was an eye-opener, because we thought we were going to be ‘the cool guys’ that year. And it turned out we were the ‘less cool guys’. But it was a good experience because it made us really ensure that we put in the hours and work to perfect our pitch and product.
What’s next for Privasee?
We want companies to be able to demonstrate compliance by following best practices. We’ve already seen some of our customers put that they’re GDPR compliant on their website and use that as competitive advantage.
Although it’s a necessary cost of doing business, at the end of the day, it enables you to build trust. Trust is a very valuable non-tangible asset for a company, and once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.
We’re relaunching our product to help more companies achieve this.
We’re also going to be releasing different modules to ensure that you’re prepared for any stakeholder inquiry, as well as any regulator inquiries that might come up.
Got any advice for new founders?
Before you do anything else, you must test your product offering.
Once you have the basic idea, take some calls with people who could be your target buyer and give them your pitch. If their reaction is positive, and you think they would buy from you, then you have something right. And if you can’t sell, that will give you insights quicker than if you go through the whole process. Trust me, we’ve done the process and that doesn’t give you the answers.
Don’t build anything before you have a clear idea about your revenue flow – that’s one of the biggest mistakes that people make, in my opinion.
One way to do that is by researching your target client better. If I was making a product for accountants, for example, I’ll find a list of 50 accounting firms, and then I’ll approach the bottom five. Those companies are most likely to give you their time. Why? Because they’re in the bottom five. Then, I’ll try to sell a product. And depending on the reaction, I would actually put the resources behind it.
This approach might seem a bit bullish, but in terms of gaining insights to help build a winning product, it worked a lot better than sending out hundreds of cold emails asking people to feedback on our product idea, when you seem to have a valuable proposition people open the door quicker..
Another thing I’d advise is: share the know. If you have tips or knowledge that’s going to improve your fellow founders’ business, don’t close ranks or keep it to yourself.
When a founder friend recommended Addition to us, we got the first month free, which is great! Now I’m really happy, and I refer to people to Graham all the time. Help each other out, and you’ll reap the benefits.
What are some resources you’d recommend?
To be a founder, you need to be very organized.
One of the things that I hate the most is when I have an idea, but it escapes me! Eventually, I might remember it in time to blend it with the product, but that’s often after a couple of months. And those extra months without that insight is potentially an expensive loss for us.
I love the ‘Getting Things Done’ methodology by David Allen. I set up my methodology using Notion. It’s all the small details and opportunities that come up, so you can explore them further down the line.
My second tip is: always know something about people that you’re talking to that they don’t expect you to know – because that also create meaningful relationships. It’s as simple as going to their LinkedIn and scrolling through their feed, then asking a question about something that interests you. I think that creates a much better relationship with people and will help drive growth.
And finally, of course, the calendar! When I started, I didn’t know how to use my calendar invitations – apps like Calendly and Google Meets links. This is one hundred percent required. Going back and forth with people about possible meeting times is so unnecessary. Instead, you can just send them a link, and you’re going to be much quicker. So I’d say those are the top three resources I use the most.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
I’d love to talk about our recent fundraising round and share this cool framework that’s worked for us. A friend recommended this methodology which allowed us to close in eight weeks.
Here’s what we did:
We looked at the total amount that we wanted to raise and the minimum ticket. Then, we divided the total amount by the minimum tickets – and that gave us the number of investors needed, worst case scenario (all minimum ticket).
In the first meeting, we shared investment details. In the second meeting, we sent the financials over. Third meeting, we sent across the data room.
Once this was done, they’d say yes or no. If yes, that was when we’d get them the term sheet, legal documentation, shareholders agreement, etc. Last big step was read, review, sign, and transfer the money!
We assigned drop off rates at every stage. We knew that if we needed, say, 14 investors, then we needed to talk to around 180. Knowing this number – and our close date – told us how many investors we needed to be talking to per week.
Using this system helped us reach our targets and close the round quickly. It’s a simple method I would highly recommend!
Note: If you’d like to talk with Alex in more detail about his tips for getting investors, he’s happy to chat! Here’s his Calendly: https://meetings.hubspot.com/alexprivasee/meeting25
Alex Franch Tapia is an Addition client and co-founder of Privasee.