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 identity have the right skills to succeed
As a part of our series about cutting edge technological breakthroughs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Gal Ringel CEO and co-founder at Mine. A technology geek, an entrepreneur by heart and an ex-VC investor. Forbes 30 under 30.
With the growth of social networks and personal data collection worldwide, privacy has become a concern for many. Despite this concern, an average of 350 companies hold a given consumer’s personal data, such as their identity and financial information. These digital traces pose significant digital risks, such as identity theft, reputation damage, financial loss, manipulation, etc., for consumers and are abused daily by hackers and nefarious organizations.
Mine exists to empower consumers to discover and manage their data by giving the tools understand what their digital footprint looks like, who has what information about them, and what are the digital risks associated with that, but also to take action and do something about it, by sending removal requests of their personal data automatically from any company allowing transparency and choice online.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I was 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 6 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 did a few other engineering roles, and after ten years of hands-on technology experience, I decided to change my career to the business side.
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 dollars, 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 to Forbes 30 under 30 in 2017.
Now I’m the CEO and Co-founder at Mine. Mine is a smart data assistant, enabling digital users to discover and manage their personal data online. Protecting people’s data was something that I always dealt with throughout my career and something that excites me and that I always wanted to solve.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I think that the most interesting story is about my VC career. I invested in 20+ amazing startups, each with its own unique story, and had the chance to escort them throughout their journey. Be with them in their ups and downs, help them solve current pains, joined strategy discussions, board meetings, and some of them already got acquired, which is exciting to see a full closure. I think this experience contributed a lot to my skill-set as a CEO at Mine.
Can you tell us about Mine’s technology? How do you think Mine’s technology is helping people?
With our Series A funding of 9.5M dollars, we are working to build out new products that will enable consumers globally to fully control how their personal data is used and allow businesses to process “Right-To-Be-Forgotten” requests automatically.
Data privacy is a mainstream concern, but most people don’t know their data privacy rights and how to control who is holding on to their personal data. Mine puts the power back in the users’ hands by giving them the ability to identify who is holding their data and the tools to reclaim their data. We are driving a major social impact by making online data privacy rights accessible to the average person as well as providing transparency and choice to every consumer on the internet.
Was there a “tipping point” or moment of inspiration that led you to the creation of Mine? Can you tell us that story?
For years, people said privacy is dead and accepted the fact that they can’t do anything about it. In most cases, they were right. Privacy was always about putting fences around us, keeping us from sharing our personal data with others. But by doing so, we miss out on all the fun.
Honestly, stop sharing is not the solution, it’s just avoiding the problem. We believe that people should use the internet without worrying about what would happen to their personal data.
The truth is that privacy has evolved into data ownership.
Now, with the GDPR, CCPA, LGPD, and other privacy regulations in place, we can live without fences, and share whatever we want, with whoever we want — and be able to take it back whenever we choose!
Mine is all about helping consumer leave their data only where they need it the most to avoid potential digital risks.
What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?
A major factor in Mine’s success is educating consumers globally on their rights to own their personal data and ask to remove it from companies. With lawmakers enacting GDPR in Europe and CCPA in California, technologies and consumers have been unable to keep up with these complicated laws’ intricacies and details. Mine’s mission is to increase awareness of data ownership by providing an easy-to-use platform powered by AI to allow the average consumer to manage their personal data across the internet without changing their online behavior.
What have you been doing to publicize this idea? Have you been using any innovative marketing strategies?
Our main focus as we continue to grow is to drive signups of our platform to establish a loyal user base that will help spread the word of Mine. We are working to build relationships with key media to help in getting the word out and drive greater education on owning our digital footprints. Moreover, our entire growth is based on organic efforts, which leverage our insights about the privacy and data market as well as useful content. Here are a few examples of things we did that were successful:
For the 2020 US elections — here.
For the 2020 shopping holidays — here.
A brand new commercial that simply explains what we do — here.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)
- How to find excellent marketing people out of Israel? — Israel is known for its strong B2B startups but lacks excellent B2C marketers.
- Living in your target marketing 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 identity 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 and successful company.
If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? (Doesn’t have to be related to data privacy)
The MeToo movement. I think this is a very important cause that everyone should strive to support to build a safer and respectable environment for women worldwide.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I truly 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 experience new things is the number one key to success.