Is new private messaging app YEO a more secure alternative to WhatsApp? Meet the founders.

Privacy online is a hot topic, and one that father-daughter team Alan Jones and Sarah Norford-Jones are tackling head on. They have built a new ultra-secure private messaging app that uses facial recognition, and is being billed as the new ‘WhatsApp’.

Yeo, pronounced Yo, and standing for Your Eye Only, is a private messaging app that provides total control, uses facial recognition scanning, end-to-end encryption and has no adverts or data-sharing to third parties. A geo-fencing function allows users to restrict where their contacts can see images, videos and documents, limiting visibility to a specific location. Should someone screenshot a conversation, the owner of these messages is notified immediately and the captured trail is wiped, including any images, videos, or documents.

Sarah studied in UK, California, Paris and Switzerland. She interned at leading Digital Marketing Agencies before spending three years at Iris Worldwide where she managed the digital roll out of the Retail Digital Strategy and Shell Motorsport’s partnership with Ferrari. She was then head-hunted by leading agency Sunshine as New Business Manager and eventually set up her own digital agency start up business - Jones & Bone with Keith Bone. Sarah founded Alternative Ideas Ltd with Alan and has developed the YEO idea since its inception. Today, she looks back at their business journey and the best advice she has ever received.

We came up with the idea when… we realised that there wasn’t a messaging platform that really gave full control to the sender and kept your private data private. My dad went to a conference in February 2017 and was shown a facial recognition platform for door entry, and had the idea to incorporate similar technology into a messaging platform to create an ultra-secure messaging app.

The biggest challenge is… time! We have so many ideas and features that we want to include into the app, but it all takes time to build and to get right. However, we have a lot of updates and exciting features in the pipeline. Stay tuned!

The average day is spent… That's a hard one, as there really is not an average day for either of us. One day we are working closely with our development team and then the next we are brainstorming new ideas, and then the next travelling abroad to meet with potential partners.

The team consists of... a small team - the two of us, Luca who is our CTO; Keith, our Creative Director; and a great team of developers. We all share a common goal and enthusiasm for YEO.

Our/my favourite quote… Go as far as you can see; when you get there, you’ll be able to see a little further.” I love this quote because it can be applied to anything in life.

I am where I am today because of… my parents. Since I can remember, my dad (and business partner) and I have shared a passion for technology. He has always taught me to go after what I want, to not hesitate, to be direct, look people in the eye and to always say thank you. All invaluable in business. My mum has taught me how to be a people’s person, to have compassion and to find solutions rather than the problems.

I am who I am because of... my upbringing. Growing up in Silicon Valley has always sparked my interest in cool tech products.

The best advice I've been given... Only worry about the things you can influence.

In five years I’d like to be… Proudly presenting how YEO repatriated people’s privacy! We want YEO to be synonymous with data privacy and private messaging.

The thing no one ever tells you about running your own business online... There is no off button!

The websites I most frequently use are... Medium for interesting content on relevant topics. Amazon too - we both order something from Amazon on a weekly basis!

Our biggest mistake and what it taught us… being over enthusiastic to launch. We had to delay the launch of YEO several times. It's better to delay and get it right, than to push to launch something that’s not perfect.

What apps do you use to be more productive... Barclays for banking on the go, and city mapper to know the best way to get around town.

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February 2019