Ultimately, the startup plans to allow users to opt in to receive crypto tokens in exchange for sharing purchase information with advertisers – but on their own terms.
By Nancy Dahlberg
Juha Mikkola believes there should be a better way for consumers to be able to understand how they’re spending their money without compromising their data privacy. His new startup, Usko Privacy, aims to do just that.
Today, the Miami entrepreneur is announcing that Usko Privacy has raised $1.8 million from a very Miami group of angel investors and venture capital firms, including Pareto Holdings, Ocean Azul Partners and Miami Angels.
Usko’s app, now in private beta, provides a suite of analytics tools enabling consumers to monitor their spending and stay on budget. At launch, Usko will support Amazon purchases with plans to add support from more online retailers and banks.
“We’re at the very early stages, but it’s cool to actually be working on it and making some nice progress. This first version of the app is to give you clarity on where you are spending your money,” said Mikkola, in an interview with Refresh Miami. They started with Amazon not only because of its dominance but because it’s difficult to see and assess how much you are really spending, super important for families with inflation rearing its ugly head.
“But the ultimate goal is to give people better control of their data,” Mikkola added.
Unlike other tools, Usko does not store any personal data. Consumer data is stored locally on the consumer’s device. Usko’s goal is to allow users to get control of their personal data and in the future monetize their data, if they wish, by choosing what purchase information they want to share with brands they love.
Mikkola said that he was always bothered that consumers share all their data with platforms but they get no financial benefit.
“Our thinking was, maybe there’s a way we can combine that – so that you get some really cool analytics in a very secure way, but in addition to getting those analytics you could actually get paid,” Mikkola said.
Mikkola has done this startup thing before. He and his wife Johanna, natives of Finland who migrated from Canada to the Magic City, founded Wyncode Academy in Wynwood in 2014, and graduated more than 1,000 students. The coding bootcamp and tech training school was acquired by BrainStation in early 2021, and their work continues in Miami through BrainStation. Johanna is a BrainStation executive overseeing Florida operations.
The name of his new company, Usko, is a Finnish word that means trust, belief or confidence. “I named the company that because we are dealing with people’s personal data and it’s so important to our core mission to always keep it private and secure so users can trust us,” he said.
Usko has launched a private beta and interested consumers can apply to join it here. Priority will be given to South Florida ecosystem members. Today, the app provides a detailed view of spending habits. The app also sorts the spending statistics according to categories. Another cool feature: Usko’s inflation dashboard shows how much the items users purchased regularly on Amazon have gone up in in price.
Usko hopes to release the app fully by year’s end. The Web3 app is planned to allow users to profit from their data directly. Users would be able to opt in to receive crypto tokens in exchange for sharing purchase information with advertisers on their own terms.
Mikkola has a small team, including one of his Wyncode grads, and is continuing to build it up. He welcomes feedback from beta users, which will be incorporated in later versions.
“Initially, I would just love to have many people try it and give us feedback. Basically, that’s the point of releasing bit by bit and seeing if we are on the right track.”
Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter and email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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