A3: PrivaSearch

PrivaSearch is based on an idea that I got from listening to a Canadian podcast called CyberSecurED. I came across the idea at the end of episode 2: Are Schools Ready for Data Breaches? In this episode their guest, Stephen Abouldahab suggests that educators need a product to help them vet the privacy policies of EdTech products (websites, apps, services or products) that they choose to use in their classroom. Abouldahad came up with the idea of an AI that is able to read the long privacy policies, and put it into plain language for teachers to understand whether or not to use an EdTech product. Soon after this episode I contacted Abouldahad (by the way I had been in contact with Abouldahad before about Cyber Week school activities that he helps run through the Information and Communications Technology Council in Canada) and thought that this would be a great idea for my venture pitch: an AI bot that could decode privacy policies for educators on the spot. Abouldahad was very helpful, and sent me resources in the form of websites and papers to look at. Through this generous offering I came across University of Texas Center for Identity’s (UT CID) PrivacyCheck, and came into contact with one of its creators, Razieh Nokhbeh Zaeem. Zaeem also sent me resources to help me with my venture. PrivacyCheck, it turns out, is exactly what I was looking for; however, as useful as this product is for reading and translating privacy policies, it is perhaps too global in the privacy questions that it asks. Instead, educators could use their own privacy-enhancing technology tool that covers important questions that an educator may have when vetting an EdTech product for classroom use. Therefore, what follows is my pitch of my venture, PrivaSearch, to the team at UT CID.

PrivaSearch Elevator Pitch

PrivaSearch Venture Pitch

( Average Rating: 3.5 )

11 responses to “A3: PrivaSearch”

  1. julio palacios

    FEEDBACK: This is a great idea. A troubling technology trend is the lack of transparency with user data management. I think this product would go a long way to counter this trend within an educational setting. Great job. Your Elevator Pitch was an appropriate length and used narration and images well, but I felt it lacking music. This is just a personal preference. Your Venture pitch was well organized and thoroughly explained your idea. The only constructive feedback I would have is to add navigation buttons on the page to make navigating a bit easier on the user. Also consider moving Pain Point before Service Description. Knowing about the Pain Point may help the user understand PrivaSearch’s services a bit better.

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    1. Neal Donegani

      Hi Julio,
      Thanks for the feedback. I’ve added navigation buttons, and background music. Funny, I did think about adding music initially; however, I had spent so much time creating the elevator pitch in the first place that I didn’t have the energy to add the music. Thank you for encouraging me to do so. Regardless of your other two helpful hints, I kept the sequence of my pages the same. I feel that “The Problem” leads well into “The Solution”.
      This wasn’t a difficult product to come up with. The problem was selling it. The market lacks bells and whistles that may attract most investors. Perhaps this is why I have strategically gone after those that are already in the business; or perhaps, like I said, I don’t like re-inventing the wheel.
      Again, thanks. Really appreciate your feedback.

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  2. Alice Shin

    Hi, Neal,

    Thank you for this presentation on a privacy application– this has been an area of interest for me and this is the first I’ve seen of software that actually summarizes privacy policies for digital tools. I especially appreciate the journey you took to find PrivacyCheck and decide on this product for your Venture pitch. Here’s my review along with comments and feedback.

    Elevator Pitch
    – Music actually did help make the Elevator Pitch so great suggestion, Julio!
    – Otherwise, the pitch was smoothly laid out and easy to follow, although it ended a bit abruptly
    – Possibly end the pitch with your name, position, and how to reach you as a way to end and for potential investors/collaborators – U. Of Texas – to reach you

    Venture Pitch
    – great research on real-world information
    – the main thing I would have liked to see is for the information to be organized more visually – i.e. using graphs, charts or tables – to break up blocks of info. and help separate main points and topics from supporting details
    – Ex. differentiation page: even though the scope is easy to understand (i..e PrivacSearch is tailored for Educators and their particular privacy needs) the explanation is quite technical
    – while U of Texas product developer would most likley get it, a comparison chart would be great, laying out info side-by-side as opposed to scrolling down to be able to compare more quickly and easily as well as highlighting key features that show what your product does that’s different
    – I also found the Championship section a bit confusing to have both the founder of PrivaSearch (you) alongside your competitor and that you’re directly seeking their staff to help your venture – what would motivate U of Texas to champion your product over/alongside their own? Even for a fictional venture, a compelling way to inspire collaboration would have been a nice addition to your pitch

    Again, thank you for this overview and pitch on privacy for digital educational tools.

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  3. Vijaya Jammi

    Hi Neal,
    Your idea of protecting the privacy of student data is well encapsulated in the pitch. This is a major concern that needs to be addressed especially in the present world of AI driven digital participation and learning. I relate to this pitch because one of the concerns I was addressing in my pitch was about privacy. I agree with your phrase ‘great power comes with great responsibility’ I’m sure the governments are doing their part in this regard by limiting the agencies’ data collecting power. Yet, it is alarming to see how student data feeds billions of dollars into the global economy each year. You have targeted a very important pain point and attempted a feasible solution through ‘PrivaSearch’

    Your pitch is well composed and complete with all required elements. The process of how PrivaSearch intends to achieve this is well explained. The probability break-up detailed to project the Revenue model is very convincing.However, a couple of questions I felt that need to be clarified better are: Firstly, Priva Search’s dependency on ‘Privacy Check of UT’, and its implications on the future of PrivaSearch. Secondly, PrivaSearch is basically designed to be a freemium model and what are the real chances that this model can lead to premium use by the districts as mentioned by you.

    Overall, this is a good pitch and PrivaSearch certainly attempts to serve an important need.

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    1. Neal Donegani

      Hi Vijaya,
      First of all, I have to give credit to Stan Lee, the creator of Spiderman for the “with great power comes great responsibility”, because it’s Peter Parker who uses this proverb. Regardless, much of what drove me toward PrivaSearch was my research into data privacy through the Future of Privacy Forum (FPF) who I featured in our market projections early on, and who I wrote my A1 Analyst Report on. This is a non-profit organization that brings all the data privacy players together (governments, tech companies, end users) to come up with policies. I learned a lot from researching FPF and not only about how they help create data privacy policies, but also about how they draw in large corporations through their foundations or sponsorship. At first I wanted to go the non-profit route with PrivaSearch, but thought it may be too difficult to research, or come up with corporate backers. However, recently, and reading your post helps, I feel like PrivaSearch could approach companies like Google for support. After all, it is through its product, Chrome that PrivaSearch extends; and with all of that Google does for education, perhaps PrivaSearch would be of interest. In the end, UT CID already had all of what I wanted in a privacy enhancing technology, and didn’t want to build from the ground up, which would take a lot longer to do, and at a much higher cost.
      Thanks for your support, and considering my revenue model. I’ll have to chalk PrivaSearch up to a work in progress at this point in the course.

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  4. Tamara

    Great idea! Privacy is a big issue in education. Teachers oftentimes don’t have the time to read through all the privacy information for the EdTech products they are using in their classroom- and even if they did, the privacy terms can be elaborate and confusing. I think this is a timely product in a market that is in dire need for this kind of support. I love the idea of using data visualization to make the Privacy information more relatable and understandable through visuals/ graphs, etc.


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    1. Neal Donegani

      Thank, Tamara. Yes, as we know from our last OER visualizing data is significant for us to really appreciate and understand what we are faced with. This is an important feature of PrivaSearch, for sure.
      Thanks again for checking out my pitch.

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  5. sundeep lail

    HI Neal,
    I’m going to echo what was said previously, definitely a great idea. Your pitch was great since it gave the problem and a strong solution.
    My only critique would be to have more images in venture pitch, just for ease of visuals. There seemed to be a lot of writing, so some infographics or images would be nice to set it apart. However, those are all very minor changes. Otherwise, I think it looked really polished.

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    1. Neal Donegani

      No, I appreciate the suggestion, Sundeep. I also feel like I could add more images; the problem is that PrivaSearch is just a conception. However, you should notice that there are images of Privacy Check, PrivaSearch’s inspiration. Ideally, PrivaSearch would have the same user interface, so I could have appropriated more of Privacy Check’s outputs.
      Regardless, thanks for reading and your support.

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  6. tara davis

    Hi Neal,
    This is a well researched idea and appears to address educator’s privacy concerns for student data.My main critique has to do with the demand surrounding this kind of a service as well as the target audience.

    Can you include more information in your venture pitch about the demand of this kind of service (what problem is it solving)? Is there political pressure for admin.to buy into this kind of a service or are they not yet held accountable for any privacy breaches? This will probably vary from state to state in the U.S., so I don’t know how “scalable” it is. Including more information around this issue may strengthen an argument made in support of the demand of this product.

    Are you targeting administrators to take on this service or teachers? I couldn’t tell from your elevator pitch. You bring up how it is a concern for educators, but do you really anticipate teachers taking on this service without pressure from the administration? I suggest you target administrators and not teachers to streamline the implementation process. I hope that helps and please let me know if you have any questions. It is great how you identified an existing program through the University of Texas at Austin as it brings credibility to your venture.

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    1. Neal Donegani

      Hi Tara,
      Thank you for your questions. Really, teachers are the target audience, yes. I anticipate that PrivaSearch will reach teachers through its freemium software. My hope is that school boards recognize the observable importance of the product, and buy into the premium product that offers a centralized, unique list of EdTech privacy policies used by teachers in their district, plus keeps the district in the know of what is being used by their employees. As for the political, government level pressure there is FOIPPA in Canada, and FERPA in the US which are both similar governmental acts in scope in that they are in place to protect privacy information; Canada’s is more general and covers all citizens, but has sections specific for students, whereas the US’s is focused on students.
      In the end, I’m bootstrapping this idea, meaning I’m going in with my own resources, but pitching to University of Texas Center for Identity who have already come up with the product as a universal privacy enhancing technology, and one that does not have the EdTech focus that PrivaSearch does. Ideally, I’m looking to extend their Privacy Check; a lot less work this way. This is where I feel this product gets hung up. Although I have been in contact with one of its creators who has been very helpful in the creation of this pitch, who is to say that I pitch them the idea and they don’t allow for the extension of Privacy Check; or worse yet, take my idea (which is really theirs, except not education in scope) and run with it without me. Developing something like this is out of my wheelhouse. In this case I am looking for investment to start this from the ground up. However, re-inventing the wheel is such a waste of resources in my mind.
      Thanks for your interest in my product, and thank you very much for your useful critiques; makes me re-think my approach.

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