Why Brainsights needs a philosophy, and why that philosophy is fundamentally “openness” and “data respect”

Brainsights is a business that uses brain data to improve content. Regardless of whether that content is an advertisement, a show, or a public service announcement, packaging or even space design, we rely on our community of users – and their brains - to power this model. In exchange, we provide our community with economic, social and – when we host BrainFood parties - nutritional value.

Mutual value creation and exchange is a founding principle of Brainsights.

When we began thinking about starting a business in the data economy, it became clear to us that incredible value could be generated through the transparent exchange of data between end users and service providers. To put some dollar value behind it, McKinsey believes that unlocking the potential of location data could generate $600B worth of value. IBM – a company we admire – has a corporate initiative called ‘Smart Cities’, the results of which both articulate the value of data and promise better-run cities, a benefit more and more of us can enjoy.

“Let’s use data to make things better for everyone”

What we also realized, however, was that too many data companies were pulling the wool over consumers’ eyes, through either opaque privacy policies or sneaky data collection and usage disclosure practices. To get a sense of what we mean, just have a look at the wonderful Wall Street Journal series “What They Know”.

Over the long term, we felt, these practices would hurt the entire data economy, as users would grow increasingly wary and distrustful of companies and their data supply chain practices.

It was clear that we had to chart a different path.

The task becomes even more critical due to the nature of the business. Using brain data for advertising can conjure up images of Minority Report (though it was actually iris scanning), and claims of ‘brainwashing’. Popular culture can have that effect.

But the matter is even bigger than that: Unemployment remains stubbornly high, particularly among youth the world over. Meanwhile, more than $1 trillion dollars in cash sits on the books of the biggest companies in the world.

Creating a model that returns more value to the individual – in effect, a sort of micro-job model – we felt would make a difference in peoples’ lives in our small corner of the world.

We call this model - our philosophy - ‘data respect’. It’s about mutual value creation, openness, and transparency with our community of users and clients in the data economy. It builds trust, rewards engagement and seeks to create meaningful experiences and outcomes for communities. It derives from a deep understanding of the value of data, and that value’s correlation to trust between parties, and the ability to share in the value creation of the relationship. Our open approach ensures that all parties are aptly rewarded and informed.

Such a philosophy, we feel, is a ‘no-brainer’. ☺