Skotty enables banks, hospitals, law firms or other institutions that send a lot of sensitive information to do so more easily and safely. But even ordinary people can make use of the services of this Eindhoven-based start-up. “Because everyone has a right to privacy.”
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Founders: Mees Boeijen and Oscar van der Vleuten
Year founded: Three years ago. But actually, we have only really been Skotty since 2018.
Number of employees: 5
Funding: There is an ongoing funding process that is nearing completion.
What do you do?
“Society is largely preoccupied with communication via email. However, this is not the safest way of communicating when sending, for example, medical information. There are solutions on the market, yet in order to understand and use them, you have to be part of the technical elite.”
“We want to make sure that people who use our product can safeguard their communications in a simple and safe way. We are not going to blast email out of the market, but we will allow more control over files, e.g. you will be able to retract files. For us it is important that users are able to send their files in confidence, they can rely on us to ensure that their files are well secured.”
How did you come up with the idea?
Laughing: ” It’s a kind of eureka moment that you only see in comics, right? As a start-up, you don’t start out with your final product. Neither did we. We started as a file-sharing service that wanted to protect the entire line of communication. We didn’t become the ‘real’ Skotty until a law firm raised a concrete question. They had a problem, but no solution. They wanted to know how they could easily share data with partners and customers without any fuss. So no hassle with either certificates or external parties that had to be brought in. No, just simple. But absolutely safe. We could deliver that.”
“Then we jumped in at the deep end. That was extremely exciting, I quit my job and Oscar quit his studies. We came to the conclusion that we were both at the best stage in life to take a risk. No mortgage or any other fixed commitments yet. It was a tough period, but you learn an incredible amount, and work on something you believe in with all your energy. We’re still here and doing well, I haven’t regretted it for a moment.”
What motivates you?
“Oscar and I are both convinced that we have forgotten what it means to have privacy these days. I think it’s a fascinating thing. It’s intangible. People do not know exactly what that means until they no longer have any privacy. Only then do you realize the impact that this may have.”
“To people who say they don’t have anything to hide, you can be charming and ask them: “Well then, let me have a look at your phone.” Nobody likes that. But it’s okay to have secrets. Even if you say you have nothing to hide, you should have the right to privacy. Right now, we’re not quite yet living in a time of all-out digital warfare. Nonetheless, we must also be able to arm ourselves against large marketing companies who want to know everything about us. I think it’s nonsense that we have to give up our privacy for the sake of security. It doesn’t make sense that we have to surrender these rights en masse to a select group of people who have ulterior motives.” Boeijen adds with a smile: “I also protested strongly against the introduction of the Intelligence and Security Services Law*.” (*ed. whereby Dutch government security services are legally allowed to tap into all forms of telecommunication by any means available).
What is your company’s goal?
“We want to make sure that people, especially companies and institutions, are able to communicate in confidence, without having to worry about having someone looking over their shoulder. Initially in the Netherlands, although we also want to offer our products abroad. At the moment that’s still a distant dream, because we’re in a period of growth … The next step is to become financially independent, we are working hard for this. And we are surrounded by a large group of people who believe in our vision.”
“Oscar and I aren’t here for the easy money, we don’t yet want to sell what we have built up. We both have a love of privacy, but there’s no money in that. When Whatsapp was founded, privacy was also very important, but with the sale to Facebook that was left by the wayside. In the end, the founders resigned because they did not agree with FB’s work methods. We don’t want to go through that.”
What can we expect from you in the coming year?
“More than 500 companies and professionals are already working with Skotty. We want to expand our user base and extend our team. That’s why we’re now working a lot on marketing in order to make ourselves even more visible. Of course, this prize also helps with that.”
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