In this episode of StreetsTalksTo we are joined by Alan Jones and Sarah Norford-Jones, Co-Founders of YEO Messaging. We discuss the rise in cyber breaches and the significant impact this has on organisations, particularly when many staff are working from home due to COVID-19. We discuss how YEO has created a solution designed to allow teams to communicate quickly and efficiently in a truly secure way using facial recognition technology. We explore the benefits this offers organisations across many sectors, all keen to secure their information.
YEO Messaging is an ultra-secure private messaging platform that connects businesses with people, assuring trust, compliance, and providing total control. It’s an innovative alternative to the market-leading messenger options because it assures delivery and confirms the identity of the viewer. Doing this it uses its patented continuous facial recognition. YEO Messaging claims to be the only messaging application that guarantees delivery to the person rather than just the device.
Alan is a tech entrepreneur and business leader with four successful company exits under his belt. He’s the former Founder & CEO of Virgin Hot 100 Company Shuttle Technology Group and has been awarded the Fast Track 100 Innovation Award. His experience of launching and scaling innovative businesses acts as YEO’s North Star.
Sarah is an experienced creative business leader with 10 years of experience. After graduating from Parsons The New School For Design with a BA in Design Management, Sarah began a career in PR, marketing and advertising, going on to form the Jones & Bone Brand Agency. Her creative experience and on-the-pulse mindset guides YEO’s direction.
Julia: Hello, my name is Julia Streets, and welcome to the podcast series, StreetsTalksTo. In each episode I interview leaders from some of the most influential firms, bodies, and initiatives in the financial services industry. On each episode we explore what’s at the very forefront of innovation and change. We think about the challenges facing clients and the industry at large, and we uncover the opportunities that exist both today and as we look ahead, particularly as we all navigate these extraordinary times. We hope you enjoy the series, which you can find on all good podcast channels and all the episodes are listed on our website, streetsconsulting.com. You can find these episodes using #streetstalksto, and of course, we are all over social media. Thank you for listening, and welcome to StreetsTalksTo YEO Messaging.
YEO Messaging is an ultra-secure private messaging platform that connects businesses with people, assuring trust, compliance, and providing total control. It’s an innovative alternative to the market-leading messenger options because it assures delivery and confirms the identity of the viewer. Doing this it uses its patented continuous facial recognition. We’re going to get into much more detail about how that works, but ultimately it makes it impossible for someone else to read your messages. Think geofencing, think burn after reading, and just think about the application at a time where we’re all very concerned about our privacy.
Now, to get into the topic I’m delighted today to be joined by two guests, co-founders of YEO Messaging. Firstly, Alan Jones. Alan Jones is a tech entrepreneur and a business leader, and he’s had four successful company exits under his belt, former Founder and CEO of a Virgin hot 100 company called Shuttle Technology Group, and he was awarded the Fast Track 100 innovation award. His experience of launching and scaling innovative businesses is why he’s so passionate about YEO Messaging, but also why they have a bright future ahead. Alan, wonderful you could join us. Thanks for being here today.
Alan: Great to be here, Julia. Thank you.
Julia: With Alan today is the co-founder Sarah Norford-Jones. Now, she’s an experienced creative business leader. More than 10 years of experience because she graduated from the Parsons New School for Design, with a B.A. In Design Management, and then went on to a stellar career in PR, marketing and advertising. She formed her own ad agency, and as you can imagine, her creative experience and mindset is incredibly core to the direction of the user experience of YEO Messaging. Sarah, thank you so much for joining us today. Great to have you on the show.
Sarah: Thanks so much for having me.
Julia: Pleasure. I can’t wait to get into this, because I think this is really, really exciting, but we always start the discussion with our guests by not so much thinking about what you’re doing, I talked there about geofencing, I talked about burn after reading, I talked about facial recognition, we will get into that later on, but I really want to explore with you today is why this matters? What is it that keeps your clients awake at night? What is it about that’s going on in the industry right now that makes you really relevant? Alan, tell us about what are the big driving concerns that exist today?
Alan: Control of data, worries about cybercrimes, about if it hits, when it will hit, and what to do at that point. That trust in the world where we are disseminated working from home, how do they control their corporate data? How do they control the employees and the access to their data to eliminate any form of, as I said earlier, cybercrime is a massive worry. It isn’t about if, it’s when it will hit.
Julia: It is interesting at the moment, isn’t it? Because I’ve interviewed so many people, particularly throughout 2020, who talk about one of the impacts of COVID has been that the amount of cybersecurity investment has gone up because they’ve had to, they’ve had to react to the increase of security breaches. It’s really fascinating to hear you talk about a cyber angle on that, and then other things that came out were really about trust and privacy and control for sure. Sarah, can I bring you in here? Just as with anything, you add, or build on that when you’ve been thinking about the design of the product and also thinking about what the industry needs right now?
Sarah: I read an interesting stat the other day, which said actually 97% of firms are realising the benefit in allocating resources to data privacy. Just to add to your point that is a rife topic at the moment and it’s, as Alan said, it’s not if it happens, it’s when it happens. So, with what we’re doing with YEO is really trying to ensure that the control is in the hands of the sender, which is something that people are trying to do. There are a lot of other messaging platforms that are looking at what happens when it’s being transferred from person to person, the message. But no one’s really looking at it when it reaches the device. Having the control aspect at that level is something that we’re really looking to achieve.
Julia: Let’s get into what is YEO Messaging right now? Alan, I’m going to come to you, first of all, which is, when we talk about these big concerns around security, privacy, control, exactly as Sarah was also saying, is what are you doing to address that? What really does make you different?
Alan: The main point about YEO Messaging is we authenticate not only the sender but the recipient throughout the message. With common platforms, they focus on security and encryption etc. What they fail to recognise is that it’s all about trust, because you hit send and you hope for the best. You are totally reliant on trusting the recipient of the data. At YEO, what we have done is we authenticate every user which eliminates any room for imposters, or any phishing exercises, etc. But we also go another step and we authenticate the recipient at all stages of the communication, so, while you’re reading the message, we are using facial recognition at all times.
Julia: It is really interesting, you saying there about the importance of authenticating, not only the sender but the recipient as well. I know there’ve been some really quite deep-seated concerns about security of other platforms, I use one, WhatsApp, which of course we talk about.I know a lot of financial services organisations are quite deeply concerned about the security around that. Alan, any views on that?
Alan: I think that’s a very good point, if you look at financial services and use of platforms like WhatsApp, I think we had an incident at the end of last year when Morgan Stanley actually went to the extreme of firing personnel for using WhatsApp for company business. The fact is, many of these social messaging platforms are designed for consumer use and they’re designed to be able to harvest as much data from you as possible in order to pay and commercialise the application. Therefore from their very nature can never be secure for business. The data is being absorbed by this massive engine and regurgitated in the form of advertising and other commercial endeavours by people like WhatsApp, so, they will never be fit for purpose as far as the business application is concerned.
Julia: I have a feeling that Sarah is itching to come in here. So, Sarah let’s turn to you.
Sarah: The answer is just something that we as a company really pride ourselves on the way that we market ourselves. Is very different. We charge a small fee for our pro and business users, which is our business model, which is also very different to how others out there are doing it, as Alan was mentioning, our users’ data is not ours. It’s not how we monetise.
Julia: I think that’s a really important point worth clarifying because a lot of people exactly, as you say are in it for, it’s a bit like saying, “If it’s free, then you are the product.” Simply if the product is free, you are the product. There are some deep-seated concerns, particularly in many industries. I mean, we’ve talked there about financial services, but my mind immediately goes into other sectors. I know you’re working across other sectors, so thinking, for example, healthcare, we’re all now communicating with doctors over channels where we are on Zoom, recording this, the privacy element of that. Just talk to us about other sectors you’re working in as well.
Alan: It’s really great that you raised the healthcare market, for us doctors today are overwhelmed, not only with the COVID-19 scenario but day-to-day by the very nature of what they do, they are busy and dedicated, so much so that messaging is becoming a part of their everyday life. But their fear of any form of conflict with GDPR for instance is huge. The very fact that any messaging platform today enables them to display information for patients and sending messages to other doctors that will sit on the phone and be liable to be seen by anyone could be catastrophic to their surgery, or their careers actually.
Julia: The whole point you make there, Alan, this is deeply personal, this is about people’s own privacy, their own records, but also the liability. My mind automatically starts thinking maybe it’s because I’m a FinTech kind of girl, which is going to the world of InsureTech and then even out into other sectors as well. Sarah, I’d love to hear some more use cases.
Sarah: You mentioned healthcare and insurance, which is a huge area for us as well, when you start thinking about what happens during a cyber crisis or a breach of personal data. In the world of legal, communicating with your clients, or even lawyer to lawyer and even in design, or any kind of area, that’s high IP reliant on IP. So design, defence, we’re in discussions at the moment with defence and cybersecurity on a government level. And also with the metropolitan police. One of the really exciting use cases that we’ve got going on right now, which is a pilot we’re running with a global insurance company and we’re building a cybercrime communication platform for them. Alan, I don’t know if you want to step in and give a bit more detail on that one?
Alan: Thanks, Sarah, basically, what we’re looking at is crisis management. When it comes to crisis management, I believe IBM have published recently that it takes over 200 days to recover from a crisis at corporate level. Now, as I said earlier, it’s not a case of if, it’s when you will get hit with a cyber attack basically, and time really is money. Unfortunately for the insurance companies, it’s often their money, and so any form of improvement in communications, which saves days on assembling the breach coordination improves the overall efficiency of managing, reacting to, and resolving a cyber attack, is worth absolutely millions to the insurance companies. What YEO is able to do is to preload the communications channel, so it manages the information in the most efficient fashion and saving numerous days on every recovery cycle, which is quite interesting from that point of view.
Julia: What’s really fascinating for me hearing you talk about this. It’s on one application level, it’s about having secure comms, day-to-day secure comms, enterprise-wide, essentially. So that then, rather than using alternative social channels, like the WhatsApps, or indeed any of the others that exist out there, is actually you’re guaranteeing security right the way through that. But also what you’re saying is that this is about workflow processes, and you mentioned about pre-loading workflow processes, which is really interesting because that’s the time when people are anticipating the moment of pressure that they can be taking time, cost, and risk out of that process, which is fascinating.
Alan: Absolutely. What you’re really doing is, you are pre-loading a group chat, which assembles all of the key stakeholders at any point of time, and then by applying AI, you’re able to make sure you have the right people at the right place at the right time and everything is a cloud service. So, any impact on the corporate typology is irrelevant. You’re able to communicate fast, efficiently, and through an authenticated channel. Because of course leaks, as far as PR and relationships are absolutely critical as well at these times.
Julia: Really fascinating. Sarah, again, I have a feeling you’re dying to come in here. So, love to hear your thoughts.
Sarah: There’s always the idea that within the company you’ve got to manage it well. But it’s also, as Alan alluded to, if things leak, it’s also the customer, the lack of the trust from customers, or the people in the party that are involved, that maybe it’s, you’ve lost all of your users’ personal data. That leaks to the press. We’ve just had one recently, I can’t remember which aviation company it was, but they’ve had a huge data cyber breach. it’s allowing people to communicate quickly and efficiently, but also managing the trust level of their users as well at the same time.
Julia: It’s so important. Now, this is a question that I ask all our guests. It is a slightly weird one. So, bear with me as I ask it, but it is incredibly important. We’ve mentioned already GDPR, and I ask all our guests if there were a piece of regulation that you’re particularly paying attention to, think of it like your favourite piece of regulation, which is the compelling reason why people should work with you, what would that be? Alan, let me come to you, first of all, tell me about your favourite piece of regulation.
Alan: You’ve already said it Julia, it is GDPR. What GDPR does is it emphasises the fact that the data that you hold as a corporation is not yours. It belongs to the people, the originator. And you need to be very careful on how you handle it and respect it, and if you do not, then the European Commission through the GDPR process will punish you. At last, people are having to stand up to be counted. So, I’m 100% behind GDPR.
Julia: If I’m not mistaken. We talk about a balance sheet. You talk about the accountability, the balance sheet liability. We’re talking about, is it 5 to 8% of turnover is a potential fine that you could get for a breach? Which has just for some of these large organisations, Sarah, you were talking about the aviation industry and these are significant sums of money, which could be offset. Sarah, how about you? Same question to you, and talk to us about your favourite piece of regulation.
Sarah: Well, I guess mine’s not really a regulation as such. I’m very interested in keeping an eye on the going back to work, obviously, with COVID, we’re all working remotely, we’re working from home, and from June, we’re going to start seeing a lot more people going back to the office and back to work. My area that I’m really excited to watch is how do we maintain compliance? How are we going to maintain the privacy and communicating as a team in that new hybrid work model?
Julia: I think it couldn’t be more pressing right now. Well, listen, I hope to all our listeners who are tuned into StreetsTalksTo, you’re enjoying this conversation as much as I have. It’s great to have a company on this. Not only is it right at the very zeitgeist of change as Sarah was saying about COVID and also thinking about cybersecurity and GDPR. I hope you’re enjoying it. It’s StreetsTalksTo YEO Messaging. You can find all our episodes on streetsconsulting.com and of course all over social media. Just use #StreetsTalksTo.
So StreetsTalksTo YEO Messaging and I am joined by Alan Jones and Sarah Jones, co-founders of YEO Messaging. What I’d love to do is we really go into the final phases of our conversation today. If you , look ahead a little, let’s think about what the path ahead holds for YEO Messaging and also for your clients as well. Alan, can I come to you, first of all?
Alan: I’m very excited Julia. Next month, we will be launching YEO as a consumer product. From the moment that the product launches, we will not only be assuring everybody of who they’re talking to on a messaging platform, but we will be eliminating fraudsters on phishing exercises. And we will help to protect children by ensuring that they always know who they’re speaking to online. YEO enables you at all times to authenticate not only the sender but the recipient, so that will put control back into all of our hands and it will enforce trust, which is something that personally I’m looking forward to.
Julia: Wonderful. Sarah your thoughts as well, you were saying earlier that you’re thinking about the design journey. You’re thinking about the user experience, you think about the product or the business model. What does the road ahead hold for you?
Sarah: Well, for me, my challenges, I guess it’s not really a challenge, it’s what I would like to do with YEO, is really build a community of like-minded privacy-conscious individuals, which is one of the reasons why we’re actually crowdfunding. We’re crowdfunding on SEEDRS at the moment to raise our Seed investment round, but also to really start building that community. We are a messaging platform, we want users to be able to message and privately message with one another. So that’s kind of the reason why we’re doing that, to start building our community of YEO users.
Julia: Well that couldn’t be a more exciting time, not only to have you on, I know you’re right in the middle of your fundraiser at the moment. So, thank you for taking the time to talk to us today, but also to hear about the industry dynamics, customer dynamics, and also about what you’re doing to solve those. Alan, thank you so much for being with us and sharing your thoughts about YEO Messaging and the future.
Alan: Thank you. It’s been a pleasure.
Julia: And Sarah, thank you again for taking the time to be with us.
Sarah: Thank you so much for having me.
Julia: If you want to know where to find YEO Messaging, go to the website, yeomessaging.com, Twitter @yeomessaging. YEO, by the way, is Y-E-O, which of course is Your Eye Only. YEO Messaging, LinkedIn, and also on Instagram. We wish you every success with the fundraise, thank you again for being with us, and to all our listeners, this has been StreetsTalksTo, I’ve been Julia Streets. Tune in for further episodes soon. Thanks for listening.
Kieron: This episode of StreetsTalksTo was produced by me, Kieron Yates, on behalf of Streets Consulting Limited. Streets Consulting is a business development, marketing, communications consultancy that’s focused on helping Fintechs from the smallest startup companies to some of the world’s largest global organisations. Everybody’s trying to innovate and everybody’s trying to grow. You can find this episode on Streetsconsulting.com and using the hashtag #StreetsTalksTo. We can be found on LinkedIn and on Twitter at @StreetsConsult. Thanks for listening.