The two Itsmydata founders, Michael Giese – who formerly worked for Schufa and large insurance companies – and Alexander Sieverts – the former CEO of a data analysis company – are old hands when it comes to data and its use. Giese and Sieverts met at a conference where they were supposed to present a study – without really knowing each other or the content of the study itself. Although it sounds like a disaster waiting to happen, the two pulled it off. And that was the beginning of a long friendship – which has now also led to the founding of Itsmydata.
The idea behind the Munich startup sounds simple – but remains unique. In the first step on the platform, users can find out what data has been saved by which of the 100 companies, insurance companies and associations that are currently listed. In the second step, users can request to have data deleted – or decide what should happen with the data themselves and make money with it. Only users can control who has access to their data and to whom the Munich startup should send a request for data deletion. If someone decides they want to earn money with their data, they give the company specific access to their own anonymized and encrypted data. The Itsmydata business model then adds a transaction fee to a fixed price, for which the company purchasing the data is invoiced.
Itsmydata corrects an injustice
Founder Alexander Sieverts explains:
“Itsmydata corrects an injustice. We know that data is important for many companies and business models – and that it is essentially priceless. At the same time, personal data is the personal property of each individual. That makes it unacceptable for others to earn money with it – possibly without consent from the person concerned.”
It’s a good idea, since we often aren’t even sure who has collected what data about us, even when we’re careful about it. And anyone who has experienced how difficult it can be, despite the new GDPR, to truly have data deleted by some companies, will gladly use the service provided by the Munich startup. After all, who doesn’t want to regain authority over their own data?
That was what the founders thought too. They believed when they founded the company in 2017 that the whole world would be passionate about the topic. However, it turned out that the public is only gradually becoming more aware about data and data security. And in the end, the founders almost caused their own failure. Sieverts explains why:
“We had fallen so in love with the idea of the (data) sovereign citizen that we underestimated how long it would take for the subject to make its way into mainstream society.”
Competing with the big players – and succeeding!
“In the beginning, we grappled with how some companies approached the disclosure of data – especially with companies that are inherently not thrilled about sharing their data. Luckily, the tides have turned. We’re now seeing that it’s important for an increasing number of companies to grant their customers transparency and to make their customers’ data available as a download or even through an interface.”
Fortunately, the founders succeeded in the end. Business is going well, and the team has grown to a group of twelve. Michael Giese remarks:
“We have achieved a great deal. Especially with the market launch of our credit standing certificate, which we introduced to the market as an alternative to the Schufa credit report. Our certificate is based on information that users disclose themselves and can present an equivalent to the scores from all major credit bureaus.”
At just under 7 euros, it is also much less expensive than its alternative.
Munich stands for more sustainable startups
For 2021, the two founders plan to get 100,000 users on board with their idea. Itsmydata also wants to expand to further industrial nations. And although the founders like having their headquarters in Bavaria’s capital city, they did criticize the high cost of living and rent. Giese comments:
“I have the feeling that Munich is underestimated. The more sustainable startups are founded here. And because there are so many established, successful companies here, there are also better opportunities, for example for collaboration and customer relationships in the insurance and automotive industries.”
And that’s something Itsmydata benefits from as well.