Kristina and Tim participated in the pilot of the digital entrepreneurship innovation lab (ilab) in 2022. They teamed up to develop an innovative idea to have people make informed decisions about their digital footprint. They have received financial support from the University of Vienna to further develop their idea until March 2023. Here, they give a short description of their innovation journey.
It is paradoxical that it so often seems like doing the “right thing” does not yield the large reward that it should. But we believe it is possible to change this. We would like to prove that financial incentives can go hand in hand with the motivation to do good in the digital sphere. The key element: Everyone is implicated. And everyone cares about their self-determination and safety, right?
We formed our team, Data Action, on the first day of the University of Vienna’s Innovation LAB. The team arrangement by our mentors Marco Masia and Drew Dimmery was great. We quickly realized that we share the belief that the current state of affairs in terms of data, privacy, and AI is not favorable in more than one dimension. The workshops on the first three days enabled us to dig deeper into the problems we were looking to solve, with the Design Thinking workshop by Katharina Kozel from Austrian Startups being especially helpful. Throughout the first phase of the iLab we received essential training to understand the key steps to start with our business and most importantly figure out whether the business has potential.
As we were getting closer to the presentation of our idea on Pitch Day, the 27th of July, we began to see the picture of our problem space clearly and set out to test three central hypotheses:
- People value their data highly but are not always able to protect it or act on it.
- Companies and governments have to make hard ethical decisions about data and algorithms on an everyday basis with limited data to support these decisions.
- Educating employees about current GDPR regulations (as required by law) and basics of data ethics is not an easy task. But a lack of education in these topics can lead to large fines and loss of customer’s trust.
We had the problem on our hands, however, the solution was not there yet. When the countdown reached 5 days before Pitch Day, we got together and went through a host of different ideas that could resolve the posed problem. Many hours of brainstorming later, we were still searching for a final agreement on what the solution should be. Indeed, it was only 3 days before the Pitch Day when we developed the idea that would become our solution:
A Decision Game that enables people to learn through active engagement with the issues related to data. Our aim is to make it: 1) Fun to play 2) connect personal values to the data decisions 3) experience the decision-making from different perspectives. In the game, every decision has an impact and presents a value depending on the role you choose to occupy. In total, Data Action aims to provide a tool to increase data awareness and actionability for everyday users and company workers while building a database of user decisions about relevant data issues.
We were more than honored when the jury awarded our solution with a six-month fellowship of the Digital Innovation Lab on Pitch Day!
After joining the iLAB Fellowship we were encouraged to apply for the INITS ScaleUp program. We had support in preparing the first iteration of our Business Plan as well
as the pitch for the jury of the Scale Up program. We have successfully presented our project and were accepted to the 3 months program that would help us develop and test all parts of our business idea.
After an incredibly intense 3 months of workshops and development of the business side of our project, the program culminated in the Demo Day where we had an opportunity to pitch our project to investors. As we are at an early stage and have not yet incorporated our company, our main aim for the Demo Day was to obtain as much feedback and connections as we could, in order to get a clear idea of what will be required for the incorporation and acquisition of investors. Which we successfully achieved and have gained even more encouragement to work and develop our project further.
What is next?
Our solution, of course, is not final and we will go through many iterations before we find the one that fits perfectly. Keeping an open mind allows us to adjust our ideas, take in and incorporate feedback and most importantly concentrate on the things that work. We are currently developing our prototype, looking for further pre-seed funding and aim to have a finalized business plan by the end of Phase 2 of the iLAB incubator program.
Plus (and this is exciting!), we are looking for people to join our team! If what we outlined here resonated with you, if you are interested in ensuring that more people have the opportunity to act on their data and that big companies live up to their responsibility, then get into contact and send us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org. We are looking forward to it!
▶ For more information on the Digital Innovation Lab project, click here
▶ Check out last year’s pitches here
▶ Make sure to check out the video: