iVirtual is a Toronto-based privacy technology company that has pioneered user-generated terms and conditions for consent, data management and ESG. Our first product is a consent management software called YouOwnYou.
Tell us about yourself?
This is the fourth organization I’ve been involved in building from scratch. All four are category leaders. The last company I built was sold to Unity in 2019. Creating something that tackles big challenges is exciting, and it’s important. Without innovation, we don’t move forward as a global community. In 2018, I was honoured to receive a Meritorious Service Medal from the Government of Canada for entrepreneurial contributions to the country.
One of the biggest challenges in the digital world right now is a commercial dependency on personal data that is collected without meaningful consent from consumers. The reason I entered the privacy technology industry is to deliver a solution that can protect people, especially younger people, while helping businesses to reach their peak performance. I run the company with my Co-CEO and founder Sherif Khair. We’ve been working together on solving big problems ever since he helped me dig my car out of a ditch when I was a teenager. But that’s another story.
If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
I would have rallied Toronto’s business elite earlier. We’re helping to build a privacy technology sector here in Canada that will touch every part of digital life around the world. Trust and privacy tech have the potential to be one of the pillars for the future economy of the region. When we sell our products in Europe, our Toronto roots make sense to our customers. People around the world trust Toronto and Canada. It’s part of our brand.
What problem does your business solve?
Getting people to click “accept cookies” was the main purpose of traditional consent software, even if it meant that people did not know what privacy terms they were accepting. Meaningful consent to access private was never the original priority of those technologies. At iVirtual we take a different approach: Our YouOwnYou consent management software makes it possible for people and brands to achieve meaningful consent to access data without the intrusive cookie banners that no one reads.
What is the inspiration behind your business?
Anyone that has clicked “accept cookies” knows that there is something wrong with this system. That’s especially true for kids. When young people click “accept cookies” they’re entering into legal agreements that define who gets to track them and profile their behaviour. And then that data is sold into a massive market. It’s an unsustainable and often unethical way to manage data. We were inspired by a simple idea: why can’t people and families choose their own terms for privacy? Plus, the fact that this is a $30 billion global market with such a huge problem: that was an inspiration for us as entrepreneurs to deliver our YouOwnYou product.
What is your magic sauce?
The click “accept cookies” buttons on websites are dysfunctional. And when you have a million visitors to your website, you have to get a million people to “accept” terms they don’t understand. It’s incredibly inefficient. Marketers hate these cookie banners. They can ruin a first impression on a website. People don’t trust them either. We allow websites to pre-qualify to be “trusted suppliers” to their visitors. So, compliance is achieved without the ugly banner that no one reads.
What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?
By enabling anyone to instantly create their own terms and conditions for privacy, data management, consent and ESG, we aim to make the internet a safer and smarter place for people and for business. In 5 years, we hope that most businesses or websites have purchased at least one of our products to help them eliminate cost and risk while building trust with their customers.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
At first, the biggest challenge for us was getting brands to realize that consent management is a huge part of the user experience on their websites. These days, most advanced brands are realizing that choosing the right consent software has an immediate impact on their business and on their customer experience.
How can people get involved?
If you’d like to know how your website stacks up, click here and we’ll send you a free and confidential Privacy Report Card with the results of our analysis.
To learn more about YouOwnYou Consent Management Software, visit ivirtual.com or email [email protected]. And join our privacy movement backed by user-generated terms visit www.YouOwnYou.com and follow us on social.