Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
My name is Gal Ringel, and I’m the CEO and Co-founder at Mine. Mine is a smart data assistant that enables digital users to discover and manage their personal data online. We empower millions of people worldwide to take ownership of their personal data and minimize online risks without changing their online behavior. With Mine, you can enjoy a value-based internet and keep your data only where you want it.
So far, Mine has helped over 250,000 consumers worldwide reclaim their data and manage their digital footprint. Together, these users have sent over three million data deletion requests to more than 250,000 unique companies in less than 1.5 years (since Mine’s launch in January 2020), making us the lead facilitator of data reclaims globally.
Check out our video to learn what Mine does
What's your backstory, and how did you come up with the idea?
I have been writing code and hacking stuff since I was really young, around eight years old, and this is what eventually got me drafted to the 8200, the cybersecurity unit, part of the Israeli Military Intelligence. I had a long army service of six 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 had a few other engineering roles, and after ten years of hands-on technology experience, I decided to change my career to the business side.
Experience is not always the only thing that matters — I truly believe in growing people into their position and making them excellent by helping them be better.
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 firm, 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, 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 as one of the Forbes 30 under 30 in 2017.
When we, the three co-founders at Mine, sat together to think about the problem that we wanted 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 different angles. Also, we truly understood how valuable it is to each one of us and how easily our data could be used against us. In an era where you hear about new data breaches and privacy scandals daily, we wanted to help consumers worldwide be digitally safer online.
At the same time, at the end of 2017, we saw the GDPR being legislated. We saw the potential of this fantastic regulation, which changed the history of the internet by defining consumer data as a personal asset that we have powerful rights to. As a team, we knew that this regulation wouldn’t be accessible to the mass market without a proper product that makes it accessible. And this is how we started working on Mine.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
One of the first things we did when we thought of starting the company was travel to different European countries to validate our assumptions. We asked hundreds of people in the streets whether they used the GDPR for their benefit or had heard about it and quickly realized that people indeed had no access to these important rights which were given to them by the GDPR. We came back convinced that a new market was being born right under our noses, and there was a need for consumers to manage their personal data online.
We came back to Israel, developed an MVP, showcased the technology, did a lot of marketing research, user tests, and focus groups to truly understand the market gaps and needs, gave early access to a couple of hundreds of users, worked with them to further refine the product and then raised our seed round. The rest is history.
Describe the process of launching the business.
After we raised our seed round in early 2019, we worked for the entire year, in stealth, developing the tech and the product. When we felt it was ready to hit the market, we had our official launch in Europe and on Product Hunt.
January 22nd, 2020 was the date we chose to introduce Mine to the Product Hunt community and the rest of the world. We were blown away by the amazing traction we received in a very short period of time. We won #1 app of the day, #1 app of the week, and #2 of the month on ProductHunt, and simultaneously had a lot of press coverage and online mentions, which brought tens of thousands of users and a lot of investors to hear about our story.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
As we continue to grow, our main focus is to drive signups to our platform to establish a loyal user base that will help spread the word of data ownership and about Mine.
Besides growth projects like our Product Hunt campaign that created a word-of-mouth loop, we work on building relationships with key media to help get the word out and drive greater education on owning our digital footprints. Most of our growth is based on these organic efforts, which leverage our insights about the privacy and data market for content creation, PR, and nurturing these relationships with media. Additionally, in the past few months, we have discovered the power of influencer marketing and have seen great success there.
Here are a few examples of things we did:
- Our research about the effects of COVID was published in Business Insider and other publications.
- For the 2020 shopping holidays.
- A brand new commercial that simply explains what we do.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
So far, 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. We have empowered over 250,000 users worldwide who have generated over 3,000,000 deletion requests that reached over 250,000 unique companies around the world.
Through these three million deletion requests, we started getting requests from companies to help them handle and manage data deletion requests better. Companies are putting a lot of effort and time into their data-privacy processes, but they often do not fit their customers’ needs and are hard to execute. Simultaneously, the right-to-be-forgotten processes can be cumbersome for companies, showing the market need for a standard that will work for both sides. To create a better experience for consumers, companies have to be part of the change. That’s why we’ve created a Data Privacy Rights suite to help with this. So far, we have connected a couple of thousands of companies to this suite to help them streamline their users’ data privacy and make it easier for them to comply with privacy regulations, increase brand trust and loyalty.
It is very important to define the company policy and culture in advance and keep serving as an example to all employees to maintain it. Happy employees equal a successful company.
Mine’s vision is to create a new global privacy standard that will bridge the gap between consumers and companies by creating an accessible privacy experience for all.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
I genuinely believe that “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!”
This sentence is leading me with everything I do in my professional and personal life. Getting out of your comfort zone and experiencing new things is the number one key to success.
Additionally, I think a strong founding team is a key to having a healthy company and culture.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?
Some things I discovered along the way are:
- Living in your target market is NOT a must — I think COVID educated the world that business can be done remotely, without being in the target market.
- Experience is not always the only thing that matters — I truly believe in growing people into their position and making them excellent by helping them be better. So I’m always in favor of giving a chance to people that I believe have the right skills to succeed.
- Maintaining a healthy company culture — It is very important to define the company policy and culture in advance and keep serving as an example to all employees to maintain it. Happy employees equal a successful company.
- Always be hiring — hiring is one of the most important aspects of my job as a CEO, which takes a significant portion of my time, and is essential to build and maintain a successful company.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
Yes! We’re always looking for talented people to join our exciting journey ahead. You can find our open positions here.
Where can we go to learn more?
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