Michael J. Gaffney wants to protect the privacy of consumers around the world when they register on a website, and he wants to do it — at least in part — from Nova Scotia.
An Ottawa resident, Gaffney is a serial entrepreneur who has been involved in six startups, for which he’s raised about $15 million. His latest venture is Dodoname, a company that helps consumers preserve their privacy and helps e-retailers to target consumers who might be interested in their wares.
Dodoname is dual-headquartered in Ottawa and New Glasgow, the hometown of Gaffney’s wife. The couple has a house in Merigomish Harbour, and wanted to spend more time there. So when Gaffney began to develop his latest venture he decided to hire talent in northern Nova Scotia. What’s more, he found programmers to build the software in Lunenburg.
“I scoured the world to try to find some people who would build this the way I wanted it done, and by luck I linked up with these guys in Lunenburg,” he said in a phone interview from the nation’s capital.
Dodoname is a software-as-a-service product that helps consumers by addressing one of their greatest worries about e-commerce — that by providing an email address and other details, someone will hack their account, access their bank account or sell their data to spammers.
On the other side of the e-commerce relationship, businesses don’t want customers’ names, email addresses or phone numbers because there is a cost to protecting it. But they do want to know their customers’ demographics (age, gender, city of residence, etc.) and their likes and dislikes. Such things, which Dodoname refers to as the customer’s persona, are essential in targeted marketing.
What Dodoname does is give the corporations the details they want about customers and allows them to target their marketing, but it does not surrender customers’ personal details.
When consumers sign up with Dodoname, they leave an assumed name and information on their persona. When they use Dodoname to sign up for other websites, such as e-commerce sites, the system assigns the consumer a random email address for each site they enlist on. The corporation that owns the site is the only one who can use that email address to contact the consumer, so the information cannot be sold to spammers.
“What Dodoname does is give people an infinite number of email addresses and there is a matched pair so only that person can use that email address,” said Gaffney.
However, if a business wanted to market to all consumers that fit a certain profile (say, hockey fans, or wine enthusiasts, or people who clip coupons), the system helps them design campaigns that can reach such an audience. They can search the database for certain persona and reach out to them with discounts or coupons.
Gaffney calls it “p-commerce,” with the “p” standing for persona.
Dodoname will launch later this month, and Gaffney hopes to attract 25,000 consumers each quarter.
By the end of the year, Gaffney will have invested about $450,000 in the project. He’s hoping to raise venture capital by the end of the first quarter of 2015.
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