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PrivacyHawk Launches to Shield Personal Data

TECH: App Identifies, Removes Unwanted Data Sharing

In the modern era of the internet, the old adage, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch,” has been replaced with, “If the product is free, you are the product.”

“Which really means your personal data is the product,” said Aaron Mendes, co-founder and CEO of PrivacyHawk – a venture-backed startup offering a solution to the unfettered sharing of people’s information on the web.

Aaron Mendes
Co-founder & CEO
PrivacyHawk

Mendes considers himself “uniquely qualified” to help personal data because he “used to be on the other side” developing the tools to monetize people’s data.

“I have deep expertise and understanding in what’s going on behind the scenes with our personal data that we don’t realize is going on when we sign up for stuff,” he said.

Mendes’ resume is full of data gathering companies he has both founded and worked for, including sterkly, Quantio and 1010data.

“We were aggregating trillions of rows of consumer behavior data that were purchased by major global brands such as Nestle, Walmart, NYSE, and major investors and hedge funds,” he said, adding that information collected included data on things like mobile location data, email receipts, even credit card transactions. “And we would use that to provide market insights.”

In 2021, Mendes co-founded PrivacyHawk with Chief Technology Officer Justin Wright with the idea of addressing rising public concern over how personal information might be used.

“That opened up the opportunity to help people protect their personal data and build something that automates that,” Mendes said, adding that “it’s extremely difficult to try and get a handle a on your digital footprint without technology.”

The biggest risk that personal data on the internet poses to people is the potential for fraud and identity theft. For example, scammers could use information from background check websites to profile an entire family, figure out who is young and who is old, impersonate a young person and call an old person pretending to be in an emergency room and needing a wire transfer of money.

“Personal data makes it easy for cyber criminals and scammers to use that information against you,” Mendes said.

People interested in seeing how much of their data is exposed on the internet can download and use the PrivacyHawk app for free. Then, if they want those exposures removed and protected on an ongoing basis, PrivacyHawk’s premium model is an annual subscription that costs between $50 and $100 a year, depending on which level of subscription used.

Since its beta launch last year, the app has been downloaded more than 90,000 times, Mendes said, adding that although the app is for anyone who uses the internet, it has been especially appealing to older people.

“What we’ve found is that the Baby Boomer demographic – which has 90% of the wealth in the United States, which is over $70 trillion, 70 million people – they’re the most concerned because they are targeted and have assets to protect,” he said.

To date, PrivacyHawk has a little over 4,000 paying customers “and growing every month now that we’ve raised venture capital,” Mendes said. The company has already raised “over seven figures” with backing from ffVC, Gaingels, Duro and NuFund Venture Group, and is currently rolling that support into another round expected to be announced later this summer.

Guy Reams
Investor
NuFund Venture Group

“We were impressed with how PrivacyHawk works on behalf of the consumer to automatically manage, control, and remove their data from many of the most common culprits of this exploitation,” said Guy Reams, an investor in NuFund Venture Group. “In addition, PrivacyHawk is rapidly adding further capabilities, such as automating the process of removing the consumer from spam sources. We hope that Privacy Hawk will give us all relief from the overwhelming volume of scams, viruses, privacy abuse, and attempts to steal our identity.”

PrivacyHawk is also working on tools to help people “tighten” their privacy on social media and protect data from new threats like AI large language models such as ChatGPT.

“What you want to do is reduce your digital footprint, get as much of your information off the web as possible because once it’s out there and gobbled up by these models, then the genie is out of the bottle – you can’t take it back,” Mendes said.

PrivacyHawk

Founded: 2021
CEO: Aaron Mendes
Headquarters: San Diego and Los Angeles
Business: App and service to remove personal information from the internet
Employees: 11
Website:  www.privacyhawk.com
Notable: PrivacyHawk is a 2023 Connect San Diego Cool Company.

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