We are often on the lookout for customers who have a compelling idea that they want to bring to the world. Bandwagon is a savvy start-up from South Carolina with an appreciation for data security. CEO and founder Harold Hughes shares with us more about their solution and what the collaboration with Cybernetica means for them.
What is Bandwagon? Tell us about the history.
"Starting Bandwagon was important to me, because I really love live events. Whether it’s a concert or a football game, there’s really nothing quite like being there…in the moment with thousands of strangers, all experiencing something unique. We initially started Bandwagon as a ticket company in 2014, but as we learned more about our customers (and competitors), we realized that there were market pain points that we believed we had the expertise and the passion to solve. We pivoted from a B2C Secondary Ticket Marketplace to a B2B SaaS offering in 2017 and have been off to the races since then. Today, Bandwagon is an identity infrastructure company. In 2019, we launched our flagship product, Aura, focused on the live event industry to drive fan engagement, day-of-event revenue, and sponsorship value optimization."
You have now partnered with Cybernetica and are using Sharemind technology. What does this collaboration mean for Bandwagon?
"Working with Cybernetica is a huge opportunity for us. This relationship allows us to marry our product and market expertise with technology that has been proven in international markets. While we’re headquartered here in South Carolina and currently focusing on the domestic ticket market, there are significant opportunities to deploy our solutions in international markets, as we have learned from an early customer in South Africa. Cybernetica has built a world-class technical product and through our collaboration, we will build a product that offers transparency with zero compromises on trust."
Do you think that the US businesses are taking data security seriously?
"I do believe that the US businesses take data security seriously, but only after an event happens. We are used to companies telling us that they misused our data or due to their practices, have somehow lost our data. In the worst situations, they say our data has been hacked, leaving consumers questioning the very organizations that have touted trust, security, and peace of mind. The more often that this happens, our confidence as consumers will be tested, so I believe that organizations that are able to be more transparent about their data practices will prevail."
Do you think using privacy-preserving technology will give you an edge in your solution?
"Absolutely! We’re ushering in a new era of data privacy as we move from Black box security to Glass box security. We want to create and live in a world where trust isn’t restricted by transparency and security, isn’t defined by seclusion. As we continue to provide infrastructure solutions for technology partners, we know that the edge that we create is only as valuable as it is seamless for the consumers and stakeholders. Our goal is to allow consumers to share their data to help curate experiences when THEY want to, while having the ability to change their mind and revoke access."
Were you familiar with Estonian innovation before you were connected with Cybernetica?
"I’m kind of embarrassed to say it, but I wasn’t. I always understood that this region of the world was more tech-savvy, but having experienced it first-hand last October was a really eye-opening experience. Even as we prepared for our partnership in late 2018 and early 2019, there was so much more that we just didn’t know. We found that Cybernetica’s solutions were key to much of the innovation that the country had experienced as it related to siloed government and private sector divisions. Now that we know, we’ve become evangelists here in the States."
Picture 1: A workshop at Cybernetica’s office - Hampton Smith and Marko Jõemets discussing privacy-preserving application’s architecture using Sharemind.
You visited Estonia last year, what did you think?
"It was incredible to visit Estonia and witness Tallinn first-hand. Our CTO, Dr. Hampton Smith, and I spent a week in Estonia primarily trying different coffee shops in between our meetings with Marko Jõemets, Riivo Talviste, and Crystal LaGrone from the Cybernetica team. Aside from the fantastic restaurants that we visited, the highlight of our trip was definitely the E-Estonia Briefing Centre. We learned about X-Road, identity cards, and e-Residency, which I’m proud to say I have officially applied for! Our next trip to Estonia is planned for summer 2020, and we’re looking forward to learning more about innovation, culture, and methods in Estonia while bringing some of our expertise and knowledge from South Carolina and the US."
Picture 2: Bandwagon’s CEO and Founder Harold Hughes and CTO Hampton Smith discovering Tallinn.