LABS 90 High Holborn
90 High Holborn, London, WC1V 6LJ
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17th November 2022 | 5 min read
With every keystroke, swipe, like, or browse online, you leave a trail of data which paints a picture of who you are, and how you think. Friends, followers, companies, algorithms and even criminals use this digital image of you to make judgements about you.
“Your online behaviour creates a digital self that essentially tells a story about you,” Ben Graville, Visible’s Chief Executive & Founder, says. And it’s valuable information.
People tend to regard the internet as a tool that helps them, but it’s not, Ben adds. “A tool doesn’t usually want something from you and the internet, whether it be your engagement on a social platform or to sell you something, does.”
The everyday person generally never sees the data trail they leave and is unaware as to how their digital self can impact them. If they did, Ben explains, they would not only be able to protect themselves better online, but also adjust to help themselves take advantage of the opportunities that come with this knowledge.
This is why he and his Co-Founders – Kerem Kocaer and Ed Hughes – who collectively have decades of experience in the digital and tech working for a plethora of organisations, including PwC, Microsoft and HM Government, are creating Visible, personal intelligence software, that will enable people to better comprehend their digital-self.
“Visible will help shine a light on a person’s digital-self, so they can get to know how others are perceiving them online,” Ben says. ” Furthermore, by letting Visible know what aspects of your digital image you want to make more or less visible, it will generate easy to follow tasks, helping people change their digital behaviour” he adds. This can include increasing the visibility of some things to open yourself up to new experiences, relationships, or to aid your career and ensure you become the best digital version of yourself.
But it will also protect you, an issue of particular concern when it comes to families, children and the more vulnerable. It’s expected that Visible will be able to alert people using it to any red flags regarding their online interactions and prompt them to ask for help and reassess what they are doing. Around 80% of children will ask for help if bullied or something happens in the real world, but that drops to around 20% when it comes to the digital world, Ben points out, so he’s very keen for Visible to have an impact and change that statistic.
Building the business
Established in August 2021 Visible successfully closed its first funding round in September that same year. Since then, the business has been welcomed to LABS as one of the new cohort of local businesses being supported through LABS’ collaboration with Camden Council, whilst Visible’s concept and importance has been affirmed with its acceptance on to the National Cyber Security Centre’s 12-week start-up programme following its success in a challenge about empowering citizens from the NCSC. “It’s great to have support and recognition that this is something that is needed,” Ben says.
Visible is now about ready to launch its pre-seed funding round to attract professional investors and Venture Capital support for the next phase. This new chapter in the business will involve developing the science and technology behind Visible and building out the alpha (test) version of it over the next three to six months, as well as establishing a 5,000 strong test group and building a community, prior to its launch on the app stores within 18 months.
A key factor in Visible’s make up is that it will be decentralised, which means that your information and the data analysed by Visible for you is never held by Visible on servers somewhere. All the information stays on your devices, giving you complete control.
“Your data will be for your eyes only and for your benefit. We don’t need that data to run our business,” Ben says.
Although it’s really still at the beginning of Visible’s journey to getting at least one billion people digitally self-aware, there have already been some learnings for Ben, Kerem and Ed.
For Ben the realisation of the advantages of attending conferences, even if your product or service may not exactly match the event, has been important. He points out that they have found them to be great places to test out ideas to see if they resonate and to practise pitching concepts. The team have also learnt that reaching out early to investors is a good idea as it allows you to understand what they’re looking for regarding investment opportunities, which can help evolve your plans and strategy. Additionally, Ben adds, that amazingly they’ve found that because the aim of their business is a cause people believe in, they’ve been happy to give their time, advise and help for free or a small amount of equity.
There is though still has a lot to do before the launch in 18 months’ time, Ben admits. The broad nature of personal intelligence means they have multiple starting points for the business, each with its own opportunities and complications. For example, developing the awareness of families and children when it comes to their online behaviours via Visible is incredibly important, but developing personal intelligence for this group comes with a variety of ethical issues that need to be fully explored and considered, Ben says. “There is a fine line between letting children make mistakes and learn from them and letting them deal with the normal struggles of childhood and adolescent, and protecting them,” Ben explains.
All decisions about Visible though, and its onward journey into existence and subsequent expansion will be made having been tested against the business’s values, something Ben says he has learnt that is very useful.
The importance, he believes, of establishing values about the why rather than the what cannot be underestimated and have been key for Visible as they help provide a clear path for the business and how the trio operate together, as everything can be judged against the set values of the company. This diffuses any conflicts within the team and keeps the business true to the overall aims of helping people recognise the importance of their digital self and help themselves online.
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