How one firm in Abu Dhabi is changing the data security game

With the advent of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union as well as the findings of firms such as Cambridge Analytics that even major companies are not protecting our data as they should, data security is at the forefront of many people’s minds.

And that’s where InCountry comes in: the San Francisco-based firm is changing the way we store data, hopefully, says founder Peter Yared, for good.

“I’m quite lucky in that I grew up in a lot of other countries,” he explains via Zoom. “Because when GDPR happened, a lot of people in Silicon Valley just didn’t take it seriously – they thought it would be temporary, that things would go back to the way they were.

“But my team and I, we’d travelled so much and we knew it wasn’t temporary and that we could help companies get the jump on this, especially because no one else stateside and in the Valley was taking it seriously.”

The natural assumption of many US companies, Yared shares, was that America and American companies were going to continue to manage the world’s data. But now, two years after GDPR began to be enforced, the world has realised that data security has changed wholesale. What Yared’s company does is allow each company in any country to store their data locally, complying with the ever-growing list of worldwide data residency regulations.

As proof that the company was on the right future track, a year after GDPR’s implementation, InCountry struck gold – three investors from three very different parts of the globe showed an interest in the company and what it could do for their country’s data handling.

“We’d had investment from US companies, but things really started rolling when international investors started to take notice and realise that what we were doing is important. We had Mubadala Investment Company in Abu Dhabi, UAE; Founders Capital from Berlin, Germany; and Arbor Ventures in Singapore,” Yared explains.

“The three of them said, ‘Hey, we have this problem in the Middle East, we have this problem in Asia, and we have this problem in Europe’ – and they came together and invested in the company.”

“And it became clear pretty quickly that the Middle East, particularly the Arabian Gulf, was where we were getting most of our business. So we decided, you know what? Let’s go. And we opened up our office officially in Abu Dhabi, partnering with a tech hub they have there called Hub71,” says Yared.

What he’s referring to is the Abu Dhabi government’s tech accelerator, a network comprising major players such as Microsoft, Techstars and Facebook, as well as young unicorns and rising stars such as InCountry.

“One of the great things about working in Abu Dhabi has not just been the way that being part of Hub71 helps with networking, licences and so on,” Yared shares, “but just the way the [UAE] government has responded to this health and financial crisis with Covid. You know, their response made me feel safer there than a lot of other countries, and it was so impressive to see. And honestly, when we tell people we’re part of Hub71, they’re like, ‘Oh, wow, great, let’s talk’, so it’s opened up a lot of doors for us.”

The data security wunderkind is now set up in both California and Abu Dhabi, and just this week, the young Californian firm secured another $18M in funding from Caffeinated Capital and Mubadala Investment Company.The next steps are for them to continue to scale up and help countries store data safely and compliantly, with minimal fuss and headache.

Something that, with fake news and data breaches popping up seemingly everywhere, the world will continue to need.

More information here about InCountry’s offerings.

The future is here: Register now for Barcelona’s New Economy Week

Barcelona New Economy Week (BNEW) starts this Tuesday with the goal of turning the Catalan city into the "global capital of the new economy".

BNEW runs from 6 to 9 October, with registration remaining open throughout the event, offering insight from 350 speakers on how businesses can bounce back from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. It will feature top speakers from the business sectors of real estate, logistics, digital industry, e-commerce and economic zones.

The hybrid, business-to-business event – which is taking place in physical and virtual forms – is organised by Consorci de la Zona Franca (CZFB) and will showcase the way in which Barcelona is preparing for the post-Covid world and the "new economy". It is the city’s first big business event of the year and aims to help revitalise and restart the local economy.

“BNEW will be the first great event for the economy’s global recovery that will allow the redesigning of the productive fabric,” says Pere Navarro, state special delegate at CZFB. “It is an honour to have the participation of renowned professionals and attendees from all around the world.

“As we are not in a position to do a proper ‘in person’ fair, we decided to adapt by creating a disruptive and useful event in this way to relaunch the economy.”

The conference will encompass five interconnected events incorporating real estate, logistics, digital industry, e-commerce and economic zones. More than 8,000 professionals from 91 countries from all over the globe will take part virtually. A further 1,000 delegates are expected to attend the five events in person. Over 200 speakers will take part physically, while the rest will give their talks via a digital platform especially created for the unique event. An advanced digital networking platform – using artificial intelligence – will cross-reference the data of all those registered to offer a large number of contacts and directly connect supply with demand.

The conference will also be simultaneously broadcast in high-quality streaming on six channels, one for each of the five interconnected events and an additional stream showcasing Barcelona’s culture and gastronomy.

BNEW will take place in three venues in the city: Estació de França, Casa Seat and Movistar Centre. All are open, digital spaces committed to the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda. Estació de França will host the BNEW Logistics, BNEW E-commerce and BNEW Real Estate events, while Casa Seat will be home to the BNEW Economic Zones event, and the Movistar Centre will host the BNEW Digital Industry.

Some 36 companies are sponsoring BNEW, and 52 start-up companies will take part and present their highly innovative products and services. A further 128 firms will participate in BVillage, a kind of virtual stand where they can show their products and schedule meetings with potential clients.

Highlight sessions will include: "the era of humankind toward the fifth industrial revolution," by Marc Vidal, a digital transformation expert; "rational optimism," by Luca Lazzarini, a commercial communications specialist; and "future smart cities’ challenges and opportunities," by Alicia Asín, a leading voice on artificial intelligence. Sandra Pina will also talk about how sustainability is transforming us, Jorge Alonso on the humane future of cities and Pilar Jericó on how to face changes in the post-Covid era.

BNEW is described as a new way of developing your know-how, expanding your networks and promoting innovation and talent.

“Networking is always one of the main attractions of the events, so to carry it out in this innovative way at BNEW – with the high international profile it boasts – is a great opportunity for companies,” says Blanca Sorigué, managing director of CZFB.

Readers can register for BNEW for free via this link using the discount code BNEWFREE.