Tarik Kurspahic: Control and Protect Your Data with Personal

Tarik Kurspahic will be a panelist at DCWEEK for “HTML5 and the Future of the Web.” He is the CTO of Personal, a DC startup that helps you manage and share your data. DCWEEK is a week-long festival co-produced by Tech Cocktail and iStrategyLabs. Get your tickets here.

Tech Cocktail: How does Personal fit in with the future of the web? 

Tarik Kurspahic: The future of the web will be driven by data, so we are building the tools and rules for individuals to connect with any device, app, or site and leverage their own data — what we call Bring Your Own Data (BYOD). Specifically, we are building Personal to be a trusted platform that individuals use to create secure, personal data vaults to easily store, securely share, and reuse the information in their lives for home and work – from passwords and education information to credit cards and bank information to real-time streaming of all kinds of data from connected devices.

Tech Cocktail: What product-related challenges has Personal faced along the way, and how did you get past them? 

Kurspahic: There was no map for making a person’s data easy to manage and reuse when we founded Personal. We had to build it from scratch, and we did it with privacy and security embedded into the architecture – so literally all open-source software or third-party services had to be taken apart or scrutinized. This takes longer and requires a greater upfront investment, but we think it is worth it to protect the individual. While we are passionate about structured, machine-readable data, we had to simultaneously make it “human readable,” which led to the creation of Gems.

Tech Cocktail: How has Personal evolved over time, and what is the big vision?

Kurspahic: Personal has continued to add features over time to create the most comprehensive platform for individuals to manage and share their digital information. This now includes structured data, unstructured notes, as well as files and photo storage. We also realized that auto-completing forms of all kinds was the killer app, and have been working to make that possible without necessarily having a partnership with companies, sites, or apps that had forms.

Personal’s vision for the future is one where the individual is in control of the data in their lives. On Personal, individuals own and control the information they put in their vaults. Putting people in control of their own data allows them to share in granular ways – with total control and the ability to revoke access. This enables rich data sharing, the building of high-value apps, and even more value for individuals and organizations.

Tech Cocktail: What do you enjoy most about working on Personal? 

Kurspahic: At Personal, not only do I get to work with great people who share my passion for using technology to improve people’s lives, but I also feel empowered to go out and make it happen. We come to work every day to have fun and work to build a better ecosystem for individuals. At the end of the day, I always feel that I’ve achieved both. I don’t think it gets any better than that.

Tech Cocktail: What makes the DC startup scene unique? 

Kurspahic: Washington, DC, is a center of ideas and people who want to change the world. This makes the startup scene here very mission-driven. I also think it’s a great community that cares deeply about fostering the startup environment and supporting one another.

Tech Cocktail: What are you most looking forward to at DCWEEK? 

Kurspahic: I’m looking forward to hearing from great startups that will present and to celebrating the DC tech scene.

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Written by:
Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact kira@tech.co.
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