Tech Pitch: SafeToNet

The internet can be a dangerous place for children. Startups' meets the award-winning business using artificial intelligence to block bad content...

Company name: SafeToNet
Founders: Richard Pursey (55), Sharon Pursey (49), Georgina Pursey (27), Jack Pursey (25)
Background: Pursey started and sold four technology companies prior to SafeToNet, and is also an investor in other start-ups.
Based in: London
Launched: The business started in October 2013 and the product launched in July 2017.

Very simply, what does your tech start-up do?

  • SafeToNet safeguards children from cyberbullying, abuse, aggression, sextortion and other predatory risks on social networks by blocking harmful content in real time – before it is seen and the damage is done.
  • The internet is a fantastic resource, revolutionising how children interact and have fun. But they also face very real dangers online – too often coming into contact with negative, explicit or extremist content and experiencing online abuse, which can have a devastating impact on their lives.
  • SafeToNet is an award-winning British technology company leading the way in safeguarding children online and protecting families. Through its app and innovative software SafeToNet instantly blocks negative content from children’s phones and alerts parents to potential threats – whilst protecting children’s privacy.
  • SafeToNet’s software is currently in Beta and is being tested by families from around the world.

Tell us why there’s a need – what do you disrupt?

Barely a day goes by when you don’t read something in the press about online bullying, hate crime, grooming and worse. With over 500 million children around the world using mobile phones and tablets to access social networks, SafeToNet is solving a global social problem.

It is well known that the leading social networks are struggling to combat online abuse. Existing parental control systems are also simply not good enough – they only block harmful websites and do not work across social networks.

SafeToNet’s pioneering software uses artificial intelligence solutions to identify in real time harmful content sent, shared and received by children online. This includes text, image and videos. The software blocks incoming and outgoing messages, suspicious users and gives parents the ability to remotely manage their child’s device (phones and tablets).

SafeToNet doesn’t just block harmful content. It also guides and advises parents and children in real time about e-safety and cyber risks. The company has built a video library called SafeToTalk, which allows parents to access information, guidance and support on key topics around cyber-safety. SafeToNet is also a proud sponsor of Anti-Bullying Week 2017.

The company has been recognised with a number of awards, including being named Best British Mobile Start-Up at the 2017 Mobile World Congress. SafeToNet intends to become the global leader in e-safety, setting the standard for e-safety and leading the way in safeguarding children online and protecting families through innovation.

Is SafeToNet funded?

Yes, the business was initially funded by its founders. Its work was then noticed by BT and EE, who awarded SafeToNet winner of their Future Mobile competition.

The founders immediately knew they had something special and decided to push ahead to produce a solution that was scalable on a global level. They have since raised over £3m from private investors.

What were you doing before you started SafeToNet?

Richard Pursey, the CEO, has previously started and sold four technology companies, eventually becoming an investor in other start-ups. In 2013, he was asked to invest in a social network, however after four months of market research he found so much abuse and aggression online that he decided to do something about it instead.

With children of his own, Richard was all the more aware of the need to address this growing problem, as he could see the very real risks they faced.

What’s the best thing about being based in London?

SafeToNet is part of the Telefonica Wayra accelerator programme based in London. The office environment is full of energy, drive and passion with over 15 companies sharing office space and all working hard to establish and drive their businesses forward. There is a strong team spirit with everyone supporting each other to succeed and it is an exciting place to be.

Would you like to start a company in the capital? Learn more about launching in London here.

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