Entrepreneurs @ work: Powr of You

Powr of You is a siblings-run start-up designed to help individuals and businesses get more out of their online data.

Powr of You is a siblings-run start-up designed to help individuals and businesses get more out of their online data.

This article is provided by the Deloitte Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Powr of You

Wherever you go on the internet these days you leave an electronic trail behind you that many organisations are keen to follow. The way that you navigate social media, news browsing, transactions and interactions provides valuable glimpses into your behaviour that companies try to mine. Until now that value exchange has been one way, but what if you could benefit from your online presence? Entrepreneurs Keshav Malani and Shruti Malani Krishnan are helping make that a reality with their start-up, Powr of You.

It was Malani, Krishnan’s brother and co-founder of Powr of You, who came up with the basic idea. “He thought of it walking out of Baker Street tube, and sent me an email straight away called: ‘Idea: Get paid for your data’,” says Krishnan.

At the time Krishnan was a strategy consultant with Accenture, while Malani was studying for his MBA at London Business School. “I’d read so much about the value and benefit of online data,” says Malani. “I thought, why don’t we get paid for our data? Once we had the idea, we got to our vision very quickly. We tweaked the business model around and did some research, sending out a market survey to potential users. The results were very positive so we applied and got into the Incubator. I started developing the idea in the latter part of 2013 and Shruti quit her job that December.”

The business has two sides to it. On the data creation side, Powr of You helps people understand more about the data they create, thus maximising the benefit from it. On the data consumption side it wants to provide third parties with better insights into consumer behaviour.

“We all create a lot of data online, especially through Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and similar websites,” says Malani. “Yet we are not able to take as much benefit from it as we could. We want to help people understand what data they have out there, to understand about the presence they create online, what it says about them and how they can use it to earn money without losing their privacy.”

The Powr of You vision is to connect up all the different data points of people’s lives, online or offline (starting with online aspects). In doing so it will help people use their data more productively, even enabling them to monetise it. “For example, you might use Powr of You to see if one of your friends is in town,” says Krishnan. “You have hundreds of friends online and there’s no way you can keep up with everything and everyone at once. Most people wouldn’t know if a friend had been in town until much later.”

Then there is the service provided to the users of the behavioural insights derived from the data. This is where the business generates income. “We are looking at market research and planning to disrupt that space. At the moment, these businesses are obtaining insights through cookies, or through panels and focus groups, or they are aggregating through third party sources,” she says. “We are saying, why not go directly to the truth of the information, to the source of it, the users themselves? This gets them closer to the market to get them better and more accurate information, and also strengthens the relationship between the brand and the customer.”

As Malani points out, companies will harvest most of this data anyway. It is already being generated by individuals in their day-to-day lives, while companies do their best to track, gather, and analyse it to produce useful business insights. Powr of You is able to provide some value to data generators in return, while providing better quality insights because of its close relationships with the people generating that data.

With the private beta launched in January 2014, and the open beta due later in the year, Malani is excited about the start-up’s prospects. “The business happened because of the idea. It is something we both felt really passionate about. You don’t come across the chance to make a huge impact for a lot of people very often.”

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