Conversations: Joanne Cooper, Cloud Insurance

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Businesses and individuals stand more vulnerable than ever to the misuse of their digital footprint, putting data privacy at stake. Joanne Cooper aims to shift control into the hands of consumers to empower them and the businesses that support them, working to consciously protect data and create a digitally secure world.

Tell us about Cloud Insurance and its audience.

We are about Privacy Enhancing Technology.  In our connected society, Cloud Insurance products will be catering to any person or business that has privacy concerns around the handling of personally identifiable data information. We are witnessing a consistent rise in trust issues when it comes to personal data, and the market is telling us something is wrong and needs to be addressed.

As the world becomes increasingly governed by big data, information is proliferating and personal data is being shared in both offline and online channels at alarming rates. It is no wonder that individuals are feeling dismayed regarding a loss of control. This is compounded when we are led to believe this issue is beyond reapproach with claims that privacy is dead.

What were you doing when the idea about Cloud Insurance came to you?
In August of 2015, I was watching an episode of 60 Minutes called “Bugged, Tracked, Hacked” featuring journalist Ross Coulthart and Independent Senator Nick Xenophon exposing vulnerabilities in the SS7 Mobile telecommunications network, that demonstrated how a hacker could remotely access a mobile telephone device and could record or film you.

As an IT professional, the episode alarmed me and fuelled my deep concerns that our connected society faces.  Also being a parent, I felt further exasperated, as children will inherit the net effects of transformation that brings both the bad with the good. It then dawned on me, why is it so hard for us as individuals to control who has electronic access to us, why aren’t we effectively using our privacy rights and do we realise the systemic cyber threats our collective complacency is driving.

By automating consent controls around your digital identity credentials, often referred to as the “golden record”, we can construct an intelligent and centralised “Opt Out or Opt In” instrument to regain our rights and start to empower ourselves.

That idea correlated with an article I had read about the NSW-based innovation hub called Stone & Chalk, which spurred me into action. Within 48 hours, I contacted Stone & Chalk, arranged a time to pitch and literally 16 days after that 60 Minutes episode was aired; Cloud Insurance was proudly on stage alongside 42 other start-ups selected as foundation residents at Stone & Chalk’s official launch.

What is the story behind the name ‘Cloud Insurance’?
The Cloud Insurance name seeks to represent a range of products or services that will assist or protect data flows transmitted through cloud technology environments.

While Cloud Insurance is your first start-up, you’ve pursued similarly styled projects during your professional career. What sparked your entrepreneurial spirit?
I grew up in the PC revolution. My first start-up was at the age of 18, back in 1983 when I was distributing Taiwanese manufactured computers. I was encouraged by my father, Tom Cooper – a pioneer in the Australian PC landscape – to import products in order to test the appetite for lower cost products.

As my mentor, my father quickly distilled a high degree of self-accountability and tenacity into my thinking. I recall him constantly reminding me to think two steps ahead and with the right attitude when you start doing instead of doubting, progress will be made.

Three decades later, with entrepreneurial DNA, Cloud Insurance was not a whimsical decision.  With my career spanning leading systems integrators, Telco, data centre, start-ups, and a global financial services player, I knew firsthand the complexities of this undertaking.  It was only with Innovation awards under my belt that I felt confident of the comprehensive skills and vision required to commence this compelling journey.

What do you do to wind down?
My drive and energy are accelerated by an innate passion for technology.  After 30 years, I guess that helps form unconscious awareness, so even in my down time, you will find me researching global tech trends.

From your professional journey, what advice would you give our readers?
Seek interplays with like-minded people where synergistic knowledge can combine; it is electrifying and in those moments, passion ignites and such collective creativity can underpin tangible results.

How would you describe your dream lifestyle?
I look forward to a time where I can rest my mind knowing that I contributed to commercialising social innovation, and perhaps enjoying a yearly ski holiday in Aspen with my daughter.

Do you have a quote or life mantra that motivates you?
The day I walked into the Stone & Chalk incubator, I noticed a sign that read, “You are you, and you are enough”, that spoke right to my core and hopefully will yours too.


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