UPDATED 15:00 EDT / MARCH 24 2021


WireWheel turns data privacy and compliance into packaged solution with impact beyond business

Startup founders come from a wide range of different backgrounds, but it is a fairly safe bet that not many served as Acting Under Secretary for the U.S. Department of Commerce and led the nation’s negotiating team in reaching a major data privacy agreement with Europe.

This is the resume for Justin Antonipillai (pictured), who is now the founder and chief executive of WireWheel Inc., following his years of service in the administration of former President Barack Obama. His government experience led to a realization that the field of data privacy needed solutions in the private sector more comprehensive than what was currently on the market.

Antonipillai genuinely believed that most businesses wanted to do the right thing when it came to protecting customer data. What firms lacked was a better way to accomplish that.

“When I was leading the agency, a lot of what we were trying to do was help U.S. citizens, our folks around the country, solve big public problems by ethically and responsibly using government data to do it,” Antonipillai said. “The inspiration behind WireWheel was we need better, more technically driven ways to help companies get compliant, to show their customers they are protecting privacy. That’s what we try to tackle at WireWheel.”

Antonipillai spoke with Dave Vellante, host of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s livestreaming studio, during the AWS Startup Showcase Event: Innovators in Cloud Data. They discussed a growing number of new privacy laws that will affect U.S. business, employing a compliance strategy that builds customer trust, and how the cloud has enabled the company’s core software platform. (* Disclosure below.)

More laws on the way

Privacy laws in the U.S. are not nearly at the level of Europe today, with the General Data Protection Regulation being enforced in the EU since 2018. However, three states have already enacted data privacy protections and there are at least 20 additional states with new laws under consideration, according to current data tracked by the International Association of Privacy Professionals.

“These are not just breach laws,” Antonipillai noted. “These laws are very comprehensive, and they have a lot to them. What we have been helping companies with is enabling them to get compliant with a lot of these very quickly. It could be overwhelming.”

The goal behind WireWheel’s approach is to move “beyond compliance” to turn privacy requirements into a narrative where they become more than just a box to be checked and instead positioning compliance as a business advantage.

“Do you tell the story about all the trust and protection you put around your data in a way that your customers want to do business with you?” Antonipillai asked. “You can actually build a winning strategy by solving a customer’s problem and also showing them that you care and that you’re trustworthy, because there are too many products out there that aren’t.”

Building consumer confidence

From his government experience, WireWheel’s founder can also see how a concerted effort to instill confidence among consumers could have far-reaching impact beyond the business ecosystem.

“Imagine a world right now where you trust that the data you gave to companies or to the government was protected and that if you changed your mind and you wanted it back, they would delete it or give it back to you,” Antonipillai said. “Can you imagine how much more quickly we would have solved getting a COVID vaccine, how much data would have been available to pharmaceutical companies? Can you imagine how much more quickly we would have opened the economy?”

WireWheel is hosted on the Amazon Web Services Inc. cloud platform and provided to customers through software as a service. Its two core offerings are a Trust Access and Consent Center, which provides an end-to-end solution for businesses of any size to use with customers, and Privacy Operations Manager, which is designed to inventory systems, create data flow maps and generate compliance records necessary for meeting legal requirements.

“We can stand up an entire customer experience that matches the scale of the company, that enables it to be compliant,” Antonipillai said. “We’ve built a core software platform, a privacy infrastructure that is currently being used by some of the largest companies in the world. Our goal is to get that infrastructure at the right price point into every company in the world.”

In November, the company announced the availability of a new, localized Privacy Management Platform solution for the EU. And WireWheel successfully closed a $20 million Series B round of financing led by ForgePoint Capital. The company has partnered with AWS to power a privacy program designed for Under Armor Inc., in addition to building its fledgling business on the cloud platform.

“To build on a cloud infrastructure that allowed me to scale was incredible,” Antonipillai said. “It allows us to do a lot with our customers that a company like ours would have been really challenged to do without that cloud backbone. We’ve grown the company a lot in the last year.”

Watch the complete video interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s coverage of the AWS Startup Showcase Event: Innovators in Cloud Data. (* Disclosure: WireWheel Inc. sponsored this segment of theCUBE. Neither WireWheel nor other sponsors have editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)

Photo: SiliconANGLE

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