Anyone who has applied for an apartment or mortgage knows that these companies collect more information than they need to determine whether you can afford the monthly payments. The application process often includes pages of data about you and your life, but what if companies only securely held the data they needed?
That’s the premise behind Footprint, a startup that wants to change the way companies collect data while helping consumers take control of their own data. It’s a pretty big idea, and the startup announced today a $6 million seed investment.
“For end consumers, a footprint is the last form of identification they fill out. For enterprises, the footprint is just five lines of code. And it allows our customers to both onboard users and perform account creation or ‘Know Your Customer’ (KYC) and offload all the security costs and risks that can occur around storing that data. CEO Eli Wachs told TechCrunch.
The company’s goal is to create a device for your data that’s not like Apple’s Pocket, so it encrypts your personal information using a mobile device to verify your identity. “Footprint provides users with verifiable credentials (such as social security number, date of birth, email, phone number) in a protected “secure enclave,” backed by hardware-level cryptographic authentication, the founders explained.
The company shares the information with trusted partners using Face ID or Touch ID on your phone for authentication.
Company founder and CTO Alex Greenman, who previously co-founded KryptCo, a startup acquired by Akamai in 2019, said on the back end the company is using the concept of secure enclaves originally developed by AWS. He used the example of a man showing that he was over 21 to enter a bar.
“Well, no need to decrypt their birthdays, and do that calculation and app code. You can do it in the secure room, and so we only release the minimum amount of information you need,” he said. This method has additional advantages.
“And since this is the single most secure way to decrypt any data, we also have a very good audit log. So we know exactly who is accessing what data. With their consent, we may provide them with the data. If they are not allowed, we can ban them,” he said. And everything is being logged to an append-only audit trail.
Today, the company can collect and store name, email, phone number, date of birth, address, social security number, with the option to add things like income verification, which can verify your employer and income and the business you own, Wachs said. The need over time is to handle all the data you need to apply as an apartment and remove all the misunderstandings in the paper-based systems that most companies are still using, allowing them to share with their users. Fingerprint data with any trusted partners.
Shardul Shah, partner at Investors Index Ventures, sees a company with smart founders to solve a difficult problem in an industry with plenty of room for growth.
“I think the ID market is vast, and there’s been a lot of business around the industry because there’s a lot of exchange of value, but it’s fundamentally broken. Many people are of the opinion that there is a trade-off. You are either low conflict or high precision. It’s a bold and serious attitude that Alex and Eli share, which you can both offer. By the way, you can be low-friction and easy-to-use with different stakeholders, and you can be incredibly accurate,” Shah said.
The company currently has seven employees, but as it grows, Watts’ diversity is an important asset for the startup. “We think diversity is incredibly important. Alex and I really pride ourselves on being on a team that doesn’t look like us. We’re the only two people on the team who look like us. And we know a lot of companies that make big diversity hiring efforts later on, and if it’s not a priority for us from the beginning, it’s not really a priority.” ” said Wachs.
The product is currently in early access release, but the company plans to make it generally available in the fall.
Today’s $6 million investment by Index Ventures includes participation from industry angels as well as Box Group, Operator Partners, Lehrer Hippe, Palm Tree Cree, Not Boring Capital and K5.