ID Ward is a data service that allows advertisers to understand the preferences of their audiences without having access to consumer’s personal data.

Dr. Mattia Fosci

How was the idea behind your startup born? Present your team and let our readers know how you all came together. 

I (Mattia) have long been concerned about the use and abuse of personal data in media, and the effect hyper-personalisation was having on the way people perceive the world. I spoke about it with Denys (CTO) and we looked at how technology could be used to give individuals more control over their data. On a cold morning of January 2019 we came up with the idea of ID Ward. We first used it to help media companies personalise their content, then when Google announced that it was changing the rule of advertising, we pivoted to the ad tech industry and have been going from strength to strength.

Can you please present your solution? What makes your solution stand out from the rest? 

ID Ward is a data service that allows advertisers to understand the preferences of their audiences without having access to consumer’s personal data. We filter the personal data generated by consumers online, store it on their device and then we anonymise it using AI. Advertisers only have access to aggregate, anonymous information and the individual can never be tracked. ID Ward makes digital advertising private by default.

Which Data Provider do you collaborate with and how has your experience been? What made you choose them and their challenge? 

We worked with JOT Media on a keyword categorisation challenge. The challenge was very relevant to our product roadmap and we wanted to have access to JOT’s huge training dataset. The experience has been great since it gave us the opportunity to cement our partnership with the University of Padova and work with super-talented machine learning researchers and professors.

You have come a long way since the start of the EDI incubation programme. Can you tell us more about the evolution/traction of your solution, company and team during the programme? 

Since the start of the programme we have closed deals with big publishers and brands like EasyJet, we launched and tested the product, grown the team, raised €400,000 investment, built a top-notch advisory board – and we are now one of those startups people in our market are talking about, which is exactly where we want to be at this stage.

What challenges did you face and what lessons did you learn? 

There is a new challenge every day. I think the biggest ones are always around market positioning, shortening the sales cycle and raising finance. Almost all these things take longer than expected, and the best thing for startups is to stay nimble and adaptable. The main advantage we have over big companies is that we can react fast to market developments, and we certainly use that ability.

What impact has your solution achieved/ you are planning for it to achieve? 

We are joining the race to rewrite the rules of digital advertising, and of the business models that power the internet. The changes forced by privacy are huge and we want to build a world where users are not spied on by corporations at every step, where personal data is not a commodity and where individuals are more in control of their digital identity and experiences.

According to your experience, what is the secret behind a successful data driven startup? 

I can’t answer this because we are not successful. But I guess all startups need to have a combination of the following: they are solving a painful problem for the target market they understand, at the right time.

What’s next for you? Are you looking for partnerships, a new round of investment, new piloting or something else?

We are looking to close this round and accelerate our growth in the market. We are building strategic partnerships with selected brands, agencies and publishers – so anyone looking for a solution to the cookie apocalypse please come forward.

How would you describe your experience with EDI?

The events were real fun, the webinars were useful and being part of a cohort of startups brings a feeling of comradery that is badly needed. Startup life can be very lonely, you are a David against hundreds of Goliaths. Being among peers helps you feel a little less lonely! 

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