“Up until now the power to capture, analyse and profit from personal data has resided with business, government and social networks. What if you and I had this same power?”
This visionary statement, coming directly from our founder and CEO, Katryna Dow, was the hook that captivated me to start paying attention to Meeco. What’s interesting is that this was all the way back in 2012.
Fast-forward about four years and here we are. I’m still hooked, but rather than simply being a member of the Meeco Platform, I’m now working directly towards executing Meeco’s bold vision with a group of passionate, talented people.
We’ve had a fast start to the year. We officially landed in Europe and kicked off Meeco Labs globally. We’re well resourced financially. We’ve won some important awards, showcased our capability at Digital Catapult, and, we’ve continued to release features to market that give people the power to capture, analyse, permission and gain value from their personal data. Moreover, we're working with innovative global organisations, those who are focused on designing human-centric products, services and experiences. The Meeco Platform enables consent exchanged personal data to create tangible value for both people and organisations.
To keep up with our fast pace, Rob Collins, Meeco’s Chairman, is currently in Europe. For the past week, Rob has been here in London working with the team and sharing his perspective on the development of the market. Following are some of the key highlights of our discussions during the week.
Q: There’s a lot of innovation in the privacy, identity and Me2B space at the moment, particularly in Europe. Given the pace of innovation, what compelled you to invest in Meeco, and then become Chairman of the group?
A: There absolutely is a lot of market movement. We’re seeing a growing propensity for global enterprises to engage in consent based personal data exchanges. We’re seeing concerns about privacy continually increase. There are clear regulatory pressures, and we’re also hearing about interesting new entrants raise capital, which is great for us given how long we’ve had our capabilities in market. An example of this is digi.me, the social media backup service, that recently announced a $6.1m USD capital raise to help add new features to their existing app over the next 12 months. These types of examples help develop the ecosystem and further validate Meeco's position.
My interest in Meeco started many years ago when I started to follow Katryna’s journey – watching as her vision started to become reality. I've observed the first Life Management Platform come to market in 2014, and watched a team consistently deliver release after release.
The key to Meeco is the vision of the “API-of-Me”. If you look 5 years into the future, I see an incredibly compelling environment in which everyone's Life Management Platform works on their behalf, helps them get things done, achieve their goals and generally, have control and freedom. The API-of-Me facilitates this within an interoperable ecosystem of peers and organisations, where explicit consent, facilitated by the platform, is key to every interaction.
The Meeco Platform already has many of the capabilities developed to make this happen. We're now enabling the market to participate so that this vision can become a reality on a global scale. That’s why I invested.
Q: Meeco has raised seed capital based on successfully meeting milestones. How did this disciplined approach affect your decision to invest?
A: Capital efficiency is hard as a startup, particularly when you are market making. Meeco has managed to make great use of funds and position the company as a really attractive proposition.
If we’re optimising our return on spend, then we have an incredible opportunity to make an impact. We have great people, a bold and compelling vision, capability in market and also existing relationships with enterprises.
I think approach to company spend and investment is just part of the due diligence you conduct when looking to invest in high-growth startups. Although the vision and journey I’d followed was what initially compelled me, Meeco’s approach to capital was a big part of placing the bet.
Having said that, with the market expansion accelerating, our approach is necessarily changing. For us, speed to market, building on what's already been developed and deployed, is our current priority.
Q: What key indicators are you focusing on to determine Meeco's progress?
A: Great question. The primary driver at the moment is the way we’re engaging with organisations and communities by enabling low-friction, high value, super personalised customer journey's and user experiences. We can do that because we actually have a platform in market, not slide-ware or 'marketecture'.
We very much take an ecosystem approach to our strategy. This involves innovative enterprises engaging with customers and employees on a equal basis. So ultimately, for the individual to be truly empowered, their information needs to flow seamlessly, from external products and services, enabled by enterprise and government, into their control. Within Europe, Meeco's (GDPR compliant) consent manager enables the individual to permission their information on their terms. This way data in context can flow to people and organisations, creating shared-value in the process.
Longer term this will mean a platform ecosystem with new network economics, where lots of developers are creating unique, person-first products, services and experiences for members using Meeco with their peers and inside the organisations they trust. The first, low-risk step towards a sustainable, scalable ecosystem model is through Meeco Me2B Labs. Me2B Labs is a collaborative environment for organisations and their citizens, customers, students or patients to test new products, services and user experiences powered by consent-based personal data exchanges. The Meeco Platform is the enabling technology for this entire process.
We have some exciting collaborative projects underway, and have already executed some great projects in the first half of this year. Our approach to improving the customer experience puts us in a very strong position with key industry verticals.
Q: Adding onto that, and as you’ve just mentioned, Meeco’s Me2B Labs is a key focal point right now. What industry verticals are you seeing the most potential in within the short to medium term, and why?
A: Telcos, finance and Government is the simple answer.
We recently won an award here in Europe for our unique approach to privacy, explicit consent and also how we enable a citizen to apply for and use a Digital ID. This is particularly interesting as we move towards the eIDAS and the EU’s Single Digital Market.
However, for some organisations the elephant in the room is how they will respond to PSD2 and GDPR. The regulatory environment is therefore having an effect on our inbound contact and interest, as well as our outbound focus. Companies now have the opportunity to be both innovative and compliant.
If organisations aren’t at least experimenting between now and the first quarter of next year, they risk loosing the chance to lead and differentiate through new trust based business models.
As a corporation, clearly it's better to have customers that trust you. Lots of organisations are trying to tap into this value, and they see by putting Meeco inside they have a unique approach to achieve this outcome.
Q: Rob, you mentioned Meeco's recent receipt of the IDentity Innovation Award for its unique approach to privacy and digital identity. What do awards like this mean?
A: This like our previous awards are very encouraging of progress, particularly when you think about the organisations and people involved as participants and judges. Enabling the Single Digital Market has huge value for citizens, customers, patients and students. Having a group of experts, innovators, peers and policy makers recognise Meeco’s approach to privacy, consent and Digital ID as market leading, is excellent validation of Katryna's vision and our team's hard work.
These awards add credibility and open up doors to trust based conversations. All in all, we’re really pleased and I think we will continue to see the ongoing value of this over the coming months and years.
Q: Given the location of our conversation, this may seem obvious, but Europe has become a critical focus and core part of Meeco’s growth strategy. Why are you here in Europe and what are you planning to achieve with the team this summer?
A: In general I find Europe as much more privacy conscious. There’s also the supporting regulatory environment, as well as key initiatives such as the Single Digital Market. When you combine all of this together, it’s the perfect opportunity for Meeco.
I’m here to work closely with and support our team as they continue to execute in the EU. I’m also here with our founder and CEO, Katryna, to speak to a number of investors about our next financing round to accelerate the speed at which we take advantage of this huge opportunity and maintain our market leadership in this space.
The MeEcosystem diagram above (Image 1) succinctly articulates and visualises a person-first model where personal information is an asset that creates value for people, communities, initiatives, governments and commercial organisations. Effectively balancing these Me2B and B2Me business and engagement models is a core component of our platform and our strategy.
The five year vision Rob articulated during our conversation is the realisation of the MeEcosystem. This is the future we are working towards — the future Katryna envisaged many, many years ago. We're enabling this by giving people simple tools to save, sync, share and gain value from their personal information through our suite of current applications. We're also doing this through close collaboration with leading global enterprises to reduce the friction of existing customer journey's, give information, insight and value back to people, and through this process, craft the next generation of human-centric products, services and experiences that will lead to new streams of shared value.
It's been a fast start to the year. It's only going to accelerate.