Ottawa entrepreneur launches "C to B" marketing platform

Calling itself the world’s first privacy marketing platform, Dodoname launched Tuesday in open beta.

Founder Michael Gaffney says the service gives consumers the control in their online interaction with merchants. Dodoname is a spinoff of In-Touch Insight Systems, and Mr. Gaffney, the CEO of In-Touch, is, as he puts it, the “chief executive dodo” of the new company.

The idea for Dodoname (dodoname.com) came to him about three years ago. In-Touch collects data from consumers for large business-to-consumer companies such as General Motors, and Mr. Gaffney noticed consumers weren’t always happy to give out private information when filling out ballots or forms at trade shows and other events.

The goal, says Mr. Gaffney, is to “give merchants some kind of artifact which protected the consumers’ identity and private information but also then provided the merchant with the view of their persona.”

In other words, the merchant gets a snapshot of customers – things such as what they like to buy and how much they typically spend – without ever knowing their identity, address or other personal information.

Through the three-year process to launch, Mr. Gaffney says his Dodoname team has come up with two new terms: C to B, or consumer-to-business, and p-commerce, or persona commerce.

Using the Dodoname app, the consumer goes to a merchant’s website and signs up for a service using a Dodoname e-mail account. As soon as the merchant responds to that e-mail, the merchant and consumer become a matched pair. No one but the merchant can send to that address.

“If they sell that, give it away, have a security breach themselves and somebody else tries to send you something to that e-mail address, it just disappears. It goes into digital Disneyland,” says Mr. Gaffney.

Each time the consumer presses a button on the app, a new e-mail is generated to be used with a specific merchant. The addresses can be configured to last for a day, a month, a year or permanently. They go extinct whenever the consumer wants them to – hence the term Dodoname.

While the app gives control back to the consumer, Mr. Gaffney says merchants are taking notice too. A Dodoname merchant app, coming soon, will allow merchants to analyze the personas – whatever the customer wants to disclose, such as interests or spending habits – without ever knowing their personal information. Mr. Gaffney says it will help merchants save the millions it would cost to protect such information.

The merchant app will allow them to send deals, coupons or web offers to customers who are actually interested in receiving them.

That’s coming soon, as is a mobile app that will allow consumers to manage their Dodoname account from any connected device. The app will be free to start and eventually cost the consumer roughly $1.

In the meantime, the work continues for the Dodoname team of 12, which is split between Ottawa, where Mr. Gaffney lives, and Nova Scotia, where he has a summer home.

The company is currently funded internally, with some funding from parent company In-Touch and an IRAP (Industrial Research Assistance Program) grant. Mr. Gaffney says he has had some preliminary discussions with some venture capitalists and will be seeking more investors this fall.