What this startup founder did before writing a single line of code

Before even writing a line of code, Paul McCarney made sure he had the right partnerships in place to see his startup could grow in the long-run.

McCarney, a non-executive director of iiNet, wanted to build a safe and secure platform to allow company and public data to be exchange and knew the most important thing would be the trust of users.

His startup, Data Republic, launched late last week, and provides a platform with bank-level security to facilitate the exchange of customer data between companies.

To create the right legal and privacy framework around this, McCarney first went to large law firm Allens.

While most founders generally create the technology and then look for the right partners, he says doing this the other way around will help his business in the longer term.

“Partnering with people like Allens in the beginning was very unusual,” McCarney says.

“It’s unusual to partner with a very high-end law firm before you write a lot of code.

“It was about being respectful of the amount of integrity required and the amount of trust we need to engender.”

Being transparent about the process and ensuring users opt in to have their data shared is paramount, McCarney says.

The companies contributing data to the platform have to get full permission from the users beforehand, and get full control over what is actually exchanged. Data Republic uses tokenisation to ensure there is no revealing personal information.

Startups can leverage data

With more startups looking to more directly target users, McCarney says it’s about having a full range of information at their disposal.

“The main idea is the organisations are increasingly looking for personalised offerings to their customers,” he says.

“In order to do that they need to understand what their customers are doing. They’re increasingly understanding that they really only have 1% of their customer’s time and 99% of it is spent elsewhere. Companies are looking to get insights externally into what their customers are doing with that time.

“A lot of startups have data at the centre of their engagement or revenue models, and they’re looking to share that data with other organisations. That’s quite a big risk though and they need to understand privacy principles, risks and personal information.

De-risking the process

Although the exchange of customer data already happens regularly, McCarney says this is usually ad-hoc and through various partnerships, with no established framework.

“It’s a very high-risk, high-effort thing to do without this platform,” he says.

“We de-risk that with a legal framework. We’ve designed a piece of technology that’s pretty unique around the world and enables organisations to share in a data privacy compliant, secure and well-governed manner.

“Now they’re able to leverage our environment in order to gain insights from other data sets or to monetise their data sets in a way that decreases the risk of doing so.”

Data Republic is housed in Stone & Chalk in Sydney and has received funding from Reinventure.

Do you know more on this story or have a tip of your own? Raising capital or launching a startup? Let us know. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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