We talked to Wim Kees Janssen, CEO of Syntho, an AI software for generating synthetic data and here is what he said about it.
Wim Kees, welcome! Tell us about your career and how you founded Syntho.
Wim Kees Janssen: Thanks for having me! I am more than happy to share my experiences and hope to inspire other (future) entrepreneurs! I have a background in economics and finance and started as a product manager in the financial sector, driving the digital transformation. In that role, I was at the forefront of realizing both digital and data-driven innovations. Here, I faced data privacy challenges on a daily basis. Where these matters typically resulted in discussions, my vision was to have solutions and actually solve data privacy challenges with top-notch technology. This is why we founded Syntho.
Sounds interesting! Can you tell us something more about Syntho and how it all started?
Wim Kees Janssen: Sure, we founded Syntho with 3 friends from university. All being active in the realization of data-driven innovation, privacy was always a significant challenge to us. Here, we shared the ambition of having solutions for data privacy challenges and actually solve them with state-of-the-art technologies. That is why we founded the Amsterdam-based startup Syntho in January 2020, 2 months before COVID hit us. So a nomination for the ‘bad-timing-award” would definitely be in place.
Wow, can you share some of your experiences in these early and disruptive COVID days?
Wim Kees Janssen: Definitely. In the beginning, it was quite challenging because innovation budgets went on a freeze at the beginning of COVID. After having had an introduction session with us, a typical conclusion and response was like: ‘Novel and smart solution but let’s get in touch later.’ These were the kind of reactions that we received, and of course, this was not really motivating us. On top of that, when things went a bit back to normal, the summer period started, also a period where starting with new innovations is not priority number one. I think we all recognize these or similar challenges. But, instead of highlighting these disadvantages, I would like to focus on the advantages. First of all, we experienced a huge efficiency gain from not having all the physical meetings anymore. Zoom, teams, and all digital tools really make our days more efficient nowadays. Then, also working from home improved the balance between our working life and our private life. Finally, and I think this is interesting for entrepreneurs in general, your target audience is not geographically limited anymore. Working remotely removed all barriers to collaborating with your target audience all over the world. This is a great new opportunity that entrepreneurs should embrace, in my opinion.
And do you solve COVID-related challenges with Syntho?
Wim Kees Janssen: The COVID crisis highlighted the relevance of having a strong infrastructure to solve data privacy challenges. Frequently, COVID discussions ended up in choosing between either protecting privacy or realizing data-driven innovation, where time and speed were of the essence. And coming back to our initial conversation, this is actually why we founded Syntho. Here, we do not only want to think in terms of solutions, but we also want to offer them in an easy, fast and convenient way.
Why? Because companies and governments collect vast amounts of sensitive data about patients, customers, and citizens but are bound by legislation (like the GDPR) as to how they can utilize this data. They are also responsible for securing and protecting this information so that personal data does not get compromised. This raises the question: “Why collect all that data and use real data when the same can be achieved with synthetic data? Customers use our AI-driven software to generate best-in-class synthetic data for a variety of use-cases, of which COVID and health-related is one important pillar. Our synthetic data solution gives organizations a secure and widely applicable platform to realize innovations with more data, faster data access, and zero data privacy risks.
Synthetic data sounds interesting! Could you tell us more?
Wim Kees Janssen: Syntho enables organizations to boost innovations in a privacy-preserving manner by providing AI software for synthetic data. Our synthetic data engine uses state-of-the-art AI models to generate completely new synthetic data. As opposed to using sensitive original data, customers use our AI software to create top-notch synthetic data. We generate entirely new data, but we are able to model those new data points to preserve the characteristics, relationships, and statistical patterns of the original data. This opens up a wide range of use cases (e.g., in data analytics or testing and development), where synthetic data is preferred over the (sensitive) original data. The Syntho software gives organizations a strong and widely applicable platform to realize innovations with more data, faster data access, and zero data privacy risks.
And how is it going now with Syntho?
Wim Kees Janssen: Actually, quite well. After the summer of 2020, things went a bit back to normal. First, we won the Philips Innovation Award, the biggest startup contest in the Netherlands. After that, our first customers signed for a value-adding collaboration with us. Then, in May 2021, we closed our funding round with the Dutch Security TechFund of TIIN Capital. Recently, we won another pitch contest at VivaTech in Paris, and now we have 10 FTE. I am really enthusiastic about the investment by the Dutch Security TechFund of TIIN Capital, especially since we closed this round during COVID. This round will enable us to continue to hire the best developers in our field, invest in our cutting-edge technology, and expand our commercial team. We have chosen TIIN Capital because they are specialized in (cyber) security and, besides the funding, provide us with a strong partner to realize Syntho’s rapid growth and international ambitions in the data privacy and data-security domain.
Final thoughts to those interested in Syntho and synthetic data?
Wim Kees Janssen: Syntho is a fast-growing company in the emerging market of Privacy Enhancing Technologies (PETs). Syntho’s scalable software solution enables large and mid-sized companies, startups, scaleups, and public entities to optimize their use of data in a fully GDPR-compliant manner. Interested? Contact Wim Kees via [email protected]
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