If you’re tired of intrusive cookies, Shield Data has a browser extension with your name on it. Founded by IE University students, the startup has developed customizable data privacy software for users to take ownership of their information.

Data privacy software = transparency

Have you ever wondered who, where, and how companies sell your data? According to the Shield Data team, most modern-day internet users have little knowledge or control of how enterprises own—not to mention sell—people’s private information. With such a lack of transparency, the startup’s mission is simple: to empower internet users to take control of their data. And that’s where Shield Data’s data privacy software comes into its own.

As far as Shield Data is concerned, users should be the ones benefiting from sharing data online, not corporations. Historically, data privacy software has often been designed for cybersecurity experts, meaning it can be inaccessible or even incomprehensible to most people realizing the complexities of cybersecurity and cookie management, Shield Data is disrupting the data privacy landscape by offering two services: data privatization and data monetization.

How does Shield Data function?

For privacy, Shield Data’s Google Chrome web extension allows users to block unwanted third-party cookies, trackers, and ads. Instead, users gain the ability to control and customize their analytics, security, and browsing cookies. Then there’s monetization. Currently, still in its beta phase, this service involves users collaborating with Shield Data to sell their personal data to companies meeting their criteria. Depending on the information users provide, Shield Data will then share data with companies aligned with each user’s preferences. 

What’s unique about Shield is that the company will then directly reimburse the user for their data, with a redeemable Shield Token. From a UX perspective, users will directly reap the rewards of selling data, earning a passive income in the process. On the other side of the coin, companies benefit by not depending on intermediaries to obtain user data. On the contrary; Shield Data will deploy an expedited process for companies to receive such coveted information.

User-friendly data software

Keeping this in mind, the designers of Shield Data developed the software to be user-friendly and intuitive. Users sign up to manage their data, ranging from sharing it specifically, to blocking companies from tracking them. They also gain the freedom to sell their own data through “zero-party cookies.” This term means that users intentionally give their data to a brand rather than third-party cookies employing stealthier means to obtain or purchase data. Thanks to its data privacy software, the startup hopes to foster a movement to get behind zero-party cookies and help mitigate further invasions of online privacy.

Shield Data’s main benefit, according to its creators, is complete freedom from one of the most intrusive aspects of internet use. Users decide who they grant permission to access their data, simultaneously blocking unwanted third-party cookies if they choose. And with fewer third-party cookies taking up memory space, Shield Data users’ computers also work faster and have more free storage space.

A startup born at IE University

The founders of Shield Data share a passion for technology and a desire to educate internet users about data privacy issues. Working remotely from Madrid, Segovia and Rotterdam, five of the team’s members are undergraduate students at IE University. The idea was born when two students, Bachelor in Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence student Bartosz Rzycki and Dual Degree in Business Administration + Data & Business Analytics student Mateo Ploquin, spotted an opportunity in the lack of solutions for data management. They have been joined by another student of the Dual Degree in Business Administration + Data & Business Analytics, Delphine Troje. Bachelor in Communication and Digital Media student Olivia Arias and Alejandro Sanchez from the Rotterdam School of Management in the Netherlands complete the original team.

Startup journey

In the beginning, the team did plenty of research into privacy laws in Spain and Europe. Built around the Lean Startup methodology, they formed their first MVP (Minimum Viable Product) with a clear goal: to see how people reacted to the basic concept.

Following successful trials, it became clear that web users do want data privacy software to improve their web privacy and give them control of their own data. The team quickly realized they had a viable idea, and set about securing funding from private investors before officially registering the company. From there, Shield Data then started to conceptualize new product features, leveraging blockchain technology to monetize the solution. With a blockchain base, the young company aspires to create a secure marketplace that rewards users with Shield Token currency for their data sales. 

Fertile ground for new ideas

Cutting-edge data privacy software is just the latest example of impressive and innovative ventures from IE University students and alumni. The entrepreneurial ecosystem at IE University, the business focus of the programs, and unique resources to help students turn their ideas into reality—like Venture Lab and Start-Up Lab—make IE University an unmatched environment for new businesses to be born. We wish Shield Data all the best for the future.