When (newly-public) Snapchat first arrived on the scene, its self-destructing messages felt like a game-changer. Finally, a way to send anything you want with the liberating knowledge that it’ll be deleted just a few seconds later. But, as any high school student will tell you, it’s not that simple.
The recipient could always screenshot your message. Sure, Snapchat notifies you when someone saves your ephemera but, by then, it’s too late. Enter: Cloaked.
The Issaquah, Wash. startup developed and patented technology that makes it impossible to screenshot a photo or message. The app enables text messaging, a Snapchat-like photo tool, photo blurring capabilities, and an option to revoke a message after it’s been sent.
“We saw a weakness in electronic communications and real-time presentations in that sensitive information was not protected from the intended recipients,” said Cloaked CEO Charles Hill. “Our goal was to create a technology in which sensitive information could be shared with recipients but eliminate the recipients ability to screen capture the information and share it without authorization.”
Those in need of a super-surreptitious messaging platform can get the app for free on iOS.
We caught up with Hill for this Startup Spotlight, a regular GeekWire feature. Continue reading for his answers to our questionnaire.
Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: “We have developed and patented a unique technology that does not allow clean screenshots to be taken. With this technology, confidential information and images can be sent to recipients without the risk of the recipients screen capturing the information and sharing it without authorization. Finally, you can send messages, photos, and videos safely that won’t haunt you later.”
Inspiration hit us when: “Everyday confidential information is distributed without authorization. Often, this information is not hacked, but rather, is shared by the intended recipient without authorization from the initial sender of the information. We saw an opportunity to fix this glaring problem by developing and patenting Active Screenshot Protection™ technology.”
VC, Angel or Bootstrap: “We have developed our technology in-house without VC or angel investments. The founders possessed the needed technical skills, business acumen, and financial resources to progress without outside investment. Now that our technology is patented and proven our goal is to license our technology to existing platforms.”
Our ‘secret sauce’ is: “The secret ingredient to our technology and related patent is that all of the information shared is never all on a display or projected at one time. Rather, various elements of text, images or videos are on the display for a moment while the missing elements would be displayed a brief moment later. This process continues at a high rate of speed resulting in clear text, images, and videos to the eye but, if screen captured, would only capture a small portion of the overall information resulting in an incomprehensible screenshot. This allows for confidential information to be shared with recipients without the worry of the recipient screen capturing the text, image or video and sharing it without authorization.”
The smartest move we’ve made so far: “We have developed a polished demonstration application to showcase our technology. We foresee integration of our core technology in numerous communication platforms and we developed our application to demonstrate how powerful the technology is and how easy it is to utilize. Everyone has always wished they could send a confidential text to someone without the worry of it being further shared. Our technology directly addresses this issue and can be tested in real-time, via our demonstration application, Cloaked – Txt & Pics w/o Screenshots, that is available at the App Store.”
The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “Our biggest mistake is not having developed our Active Screenshot Protection™ technology sooner. It is a technology that we utilize on a daily basis.”
Would you rather have Gates, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: ‘We would prefer to have Gates, Zuckerberg, and Bezos in our corner. Our technology is relevant to all electronic communication platforms and would greatly enhance the user experience and retention if integrated. We want to improve the safety of confidential information and the confidence of senders of confidential information. We feel that all technology icons would see consumer benefit in our technology and we are hopeful that we can work together with them in the future.”
Our favorite team-building activity is: “Our favorite team-building activity is to continually improve our technology and to develop additional tools to enhance user experiences with electronic communications. We have several up our sleeves!”
The biggest thing we look for when hiring is: “A potential hire must be well connected and understand the need for and complexities of modern electronic communications.”
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: “Clearly define a need and directly address it. Make sure there is an adequate market for your technology and understand the competitive environment and barriers to entry. If possible, try and protect your intellectual property with patent protection.”