In today’s digital age, data has become increasingly important. It’s the invisible fuel powering innovation, shaping our online experiences, and driving economic growth in uncharted industries. Companies wield it as a competitive weapon, crafting targeted strategies and products for online users. The data economy is a complex world, and raises critical questions about privacy and ethics. Who controls our information? How is it used? How can we regain privacy?

Enter Elroi, this week’s Startup Spotlight, whose mission is to revolutionize the digital ecosystem by providing a transparent and fair marketplace for data exchange while prioritizing user privacy and data ethics. They are working to empower users to control and monetize their data ethically while enabling businesses to build data-driven models with user privacy in mind. Founder and CEO, Rachel Cash previously worked as a privacy attorney and built Elroi based on her experience in this space and in realizing the importance of transparency in data exchanges. Join us this week in learning more about Rachel’s story and startup journey. 

Q1: Could you tell us a little bit about your company?

Elroi is a data marketplace and privacy platform that empowers individuals to control and monetize their personal data ethically. We enable enterprises to build data-compliant models and leverage machine learning and AI with ethical, real-time data sources. Our mission is to revolutionize the digital ecosystem by providing a transparent and fair marketplace for data exchange while prioritizing user privacy and data ethics.

Q2: What inspired you to start your own company?

Our inspiration stems from a deep belief in the constitutional rights of individuals, particularly regarding data privacy. As a privacy attorney, I’ve witnessed firsthand the importance of safeguarding personal information. Our team, composed of experts from large organizations in privacy and cybersecurity, recognized the pressing need to enhance consumer experiences while upholding privacy rights. This collective expertise and commitment drive us to innovate and improve data privacy standards for all.

Q3: What are the biggest challenges you’ve encountered as a startup founder this far, and how did you overcome them?

As a non-technical founder, the learning curve was steep, but I’ve grown more confident with each lesson learned. Being a sole founder presents challenges in managing ups and downs and prioritizing tasks. I recommend joining programs or accelerators that offer funding or strategic support to fill knowledge gaps. Engaging with startup communities helps identify collaborators and accelerates growth through shared experiences and resources.

Q4: Do you have any mentors or role models who have inspired you while you have been building your business?

Having mentors at different stages of the entrepreneurial journey has been invaluable. Those who are a few steps ahead provide valuable guidance on scaling and navigating challenges, offering insights based on their experiences. Peers who are growing and have already surpassed the $1M milestone offer relatable insights and practical advice. Additionally, mentors who are on the verge of exiting can provide valuable perspectives on strategies for success and potential pitfalls to avoid.

In particular, I seek out minority, female, or black founders who share similar experiences, as they can provide unique insights and understanding of the challenges faced by underrepresented entrepreneurs. Their guidance and support have been instrumental in navigating the complexities of building and scaling a startup, and their networks have been invaluable for solving problems and making strategic connections. Overall, having a diverse group of mentors has been crucial for personal and professional growth as a founder.

Q5: What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs and future startup founders based on your own experiences and lessons learned?

Embrace learning; Build a strong support network; Persevere through challenges: this process will make you a better leader; be honest and open to your team as you all build this vision sometime they can help solve problems too.