When you hear that your online activity is being tracked and sold by internet service providers for targeted advertising, what comes to mind? Columbus resident and Big Kitty Labs CEO Dan Rockwell thinks answers could vary.

When you hear that your online activity is being tracked and sold by internet service providers for targeted advertising, what comes to mind? Columbus resident and Big Kitty Labs CEO Dan Rockwell thinks answers could vary.

Looking to educate internet users, Rockwell and co-founder Ken Hewes are in the early stages of creating Personal Trace, a web plug-in that will track users' data and allow them to profit if they decide to sell it. The startup will also provide learning resources to bring transparency to online data collection.

“We can tell you that your current data is very valuable to the Limited, or your data is very valuable to GM,” says Rockwell. “Then, GM can actually solicit the user directly through surveys, or if you are thinking about a car, say, ‘here are a couple ones you might like better.' So, it's a … richer sort of targeted advertising …that a regular ISP couldn't provide.”

For Rockwell, this “richness” is all about the “why.”

“They don't really know what you're doing,” says Rockwell on internet service providers. “They just see the patterns … without any ‘why' data.”

But does Personal Trace's market see the “why” of this startup? To vet themselves, Rockwell and Hughes participated in Rev1's Concept Academy, a two-week intensive which validates the need of startup concepts.

Will Personal Trace achieve startup success?

“Too many marketing professionals in 2017 view consumers' thinking and behaviors as commodities that lack subtlety or depth; they care more about the ‘that' than the ‘why.' Personal Trace enables its end users to offer enriched data that goes far deeper than these misunderstood trivialities. It's a fantastic concept, and I'd buy it.”

Potential Investor: Soubhik Das, Angel Investor

“I think it's great! Dan has a lot of momentum in the startup community, and this plug-in is perfectly timed. People are just getting to the point where they're accepting that our data is being used and sold for profit. Now that selling user data is palatable because it's become absolutely unavoidable, it makes sense that people would wish to sell their own.”

Potential User:Krista Faist, Donations Coordinator, YWCA Columbus

“Online data collection is a serious and complex issue. It's also still a new one. Users want privacy, but don't understand how their data is being tracked. Marketers want insights into their customers, but need limitations … And privacy will be elevated to higher importance with the help of web plug-ins like Personal Trace. I imagine it will be the first of many companies to venture into this new frontier.”

Industry Expert: Sarah Felty, Project Manager, L Brands

Exchange Change: Kruma Makes App for Foreign Currency

Kruma co-founders Ali Farah and Theo Denanyoh have built an app that makes foreign currency exchange simpler and cheaper.

Through the app, users can use a virtual Kruma card or place an order for a physical Kruma card that will be delivered to them before their trip begins. The Kruma card is a debit card that when used abroad at ATMs, will incur costs only from the ATM—instead of incurring three costs: that from the ATM, that from your bank and that from a foreign transaction fee. And, in the future, Kruma is hoping to create a partnership with selected banks through which a rebate on the ATM fee could be a feature. Kruma is still in the pre-launch phase, so saving a dime while traveling will have to wait.