This co-founding team of four, all with previous exits under their belt, have joined forces on a technology they believe will transform the way businesses and consumers trust each other in the digital world. Having a deep understanding of the power and potency of data in their respective fields, Mike Loewy and Yuval Hertzog, along with their co-founders, Issac Elnekave and Dom Valladolid envisage a digital economy with boundless corporate upside enabled by uncompromising consumer privacy protection.
The origin story: rise of the Tide
“We could see the rise of the Internet of Things as a new data source incredibly rich in consumer information” explains Mike. “So we created a platform, Ziva, that gamified interactions between consumers using connected devices and brands, who could now engage through “real life activities” not just a screen. Ziva powered loyalty programs with pharmacy chains and ultimately got the attention of Kellogg’s. It was this relationship that paved the road to Tide. They were really interested in using the platform, but when our agreements were sent to the U.S. for approval, procurement knocked them back, saying it was ‘too great a risk to partner with a startup holding such sensitive consumer data. What if they get breached?’ So we went back to Kellogg’s and said, “What if we could mathematically prove to you that if we get breached, there’s nothing sensitive to find?” We’d lock any sensitive consumer data in our system and hand consumers the only key” — Our approach to removing the threat of a mass data breach got us the thumbs up from Kellogg’s, but that was just the beginning.”
“We were sitting on an enormous amount of data, which was incredibly valuable to brands. But it raised questions — who owns the data? Is there a way we can monetise it without undermining our relationship with the consumers sharing it? Could monetising it benefit them too? We found no solution that addressed these complex issues together, so we devised a radical approach of our own. This became a more meaningful revenue stream than the SaaS platform subscription.”
GDPR and a wave of privacy legislation sweeps the globe
“We knew more about a person then they knew about themselves,” says Yuval. “even pre-GDPR, this was alarming. There was a problem with the model, which legally freed us to do whatever we want with their data. In realising this, we also recognised how this model was bound to collapse. In flipping the current models on their head and putting the consumer at the centre, we actually created a framework that benefits businesses as well as the consumer. As privacy legislation began to sweep the globe and data breaches became front page news, we realised we’d created a solution core to almost every business. We’ve since spent the last 2.5 years in deep R&D mode developing new technology that introduces a “trust layer” for the internet, that transforms the protection and mobilisation of sensitive data.”
On having a founding team of four
For some, a founding team of four might feel like a lot. For the Tide crew, however, the experience and mutual respect makes for a well-rounded team. “I used to run a digital agency,” explains Mike. “Isaac was a client of mine, and a serial entrepreneur. We already had that inherent trust. We knew how to work professionally and then grew friendship on top of that. And Yuval and I, well, we’ve known each other for years. Our grandparents survived the devastation of WWII in Europe, moved to Israel together, and started a chicken farm. We share a family connection and equally, a deep love of technology, which we’ve tinkered with together for years knowing that one day we’d create something special.
“Contrary to what some might think, having four co-founders who have each been CEOs in their own right, gives us an edge.” explains Yuval. “Our experience allows us to put egos aside and establish a clear division of duties that complement each other’s strengths.”
“Dom, our fourth founding member, and I have been working together since 2010, where we built a satellite-GSM telco from the ground-up and broke a few other technological barriers.” Yuval continues. “Although he ran successful businesses on his own, very few know he rose to fame as a professional Counter-Strike gaming champion. He’s also a mastermind in business process analysis.”
This history underpins their camaraderie. “Having known each other for years, in professional and other contexts,” says Mike, “you get to know everyone’s character really well. In deep tech there are enormous barriers to overcome, so you need to consider: who do you want to be in the trenches with? For me, it’s someone who will have my back in the most challenging of times.
“‘The trenches’ is the core aspect,” Yuval explains. “We’ve all been in startups before and we know the experience. There are challenges which people without startup experience can’t know or see. We cover each other’s blindspots.”
And what about each other? “Yuval is impressive.” Mike smiles. “He was a cyber intelligence captain in Israel for ten years, and is one of the pioneers of VoIP technology, with a number of patents under his belt. He is very patient with us mere mortals so we can catch up to his understanding of the future. Yuval brings the ability to see past the forest altogether. He’s already solving challenges that appear on the horizon — it’s my job to ground that vision into a product delivering immediate value today.”
“One of my biggest frustrations in the corporate life was helping customers help themselves,” Yuval says. “People think they know what they want, but often frustrate the process of arriving at an optimal outcome. With Michael he has a paranormal ability to empathise with people on a level I have not seen before. It’s a super critical part of building a product and solution. And understanding how to communicate. He can communicate the benefit in a way that makes sense to the audience. I don’t know many people who have this ability.”
It’s not just the founding team that’s impressive, but their line up of investors and advisors, too: Tom Dery, former Global Chairman at M&C Saatchi, Doug Knopper, former GM of DoubleClick, and Professor Willy Susilo, a world-renowned cyber researcher and fellow member of IEEE, are just a few. What does it mean to have people of this calibre advocating for you? “It’s incredible validation coming from individuals that have been successful in the highest echelon of their fields, all of which intersect with our technology or value proposition,” explains Mike. “Their experience also helps us navigate the path to commercialising our deep tech.”
Driven by the future they see
With pioneering technology, an enormous market opportunity and a team with deep knowledge and experience, Tide aims to reimagine the relationship between businesses and consumers by introducing a new dimension of trust in the digital world that removes the need for trust altogether.