Startup Stories: Everything Monitors Smart Devices and Protects Their Data

adventurer: Everything is a group, Inc. Advanced AI uses real-time crowdsourcing data to keep people and their electronic devices safe.

Founder: David Knudsen 91

When did you come up with the idea for this startup?

When my wife, Sarah, and I began renovating our home several years ago, we looked at incorporating smart devices like water use screens, smart thermostats, app-controlled lighting, and smart locks. But Sarah was concerned and raised several questions about the devices: How do we know what they’re actually doing? What if they are hacked? What if we are being spied on?

About a decade ago, I started working with machine learning algorithms, doing pattern recognition on time series data. It started using more crowdsourcing data and very large data sets, which made the algorithms more efficient. I thought why this does not apply to the problem of smart devices? Why not observe their behaviors and communication patterns at scale — all those bits and bytes moving into the cloud — to identify and fix individual device problems as they occur.

With this moment, I set out to build a business, raise money, and bring in people I’ve worked with before. Four years later, our team has built a technically complex product that is both simple and easy to use.

What is the problem you are trying to solve or the gap you are trying to fill?

Smart devices provide the comforts of a home but are often vulnerable to hacking and other security and privacy risks that people are unaware of. Users don’t have an easy way to protect themselves, and many times they don’t even know that they have been hacked, which means they can be spied on, their personal data and the hacked information. The risks to businesses are also concerning for those who have employees who work at home. In the beta, we found electric cars, entertainment devices, small computers infected with malware, and many more dangerous than expected behaviors, all invisible to users.

What is the most important resource Yale SOM has contributed to your startup?

Our 1991 class is an entrepreneurial group, and the most important resource has been the help and investments from your fellow alumni. They were part of our beta, gave feedback on our service, made introductions to us, and encouraged us. Two of his married colleagues at Yale University had a set-top box that was one of the first devices to be hacked in real time. If left alone, it could have infected other devices in their homes, passed their personal data and information to bad actors, or been controlled by a botnet attack. Just like we envisioned, we alerted them and then instructed them to fix before a problem occurred. So, Yale SOM and Everything Set have a two-way relationship – our fellow alumni have helped us, and we have helped them!

What has been your startup’s biggest achievement since graduation?

After more than two years of development, including a one-and-a-half year beta with over 150 homes across the United States, we are now offering our product to the public through our Early Access Program.

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