Lerna.ai guesses what will interest you in a mobile app without collecting your personal data.

Lerna.ai guesses what will interest you in a mobile app without collecting your personal data.

by Startup Montréal
18 September 2022

This article was originally published on infobref.com

Mobile app publishers need to understand how their users use their apps, and what actions to take to get them to use it longer, more often, and in a way that is more profitable for the publisher. However, due to increasing regulations on personal data and Apple and Google’s guidelines, publishers have less and less access to certain data. A Montreal-based startup, Lerna.ai, is now offering them the opportunity to obtain information and insights about their users without collecting personal data.

The problem Lerna.ai is tackling is the growing pressure on mobile app publishers to use less personal data, and especially to stop using data from third parties.

“Until recently, publishers collected a lot of sensitive personal data, and they received a lot of it from third-party apps,” says Georgios Depastas, co-founder and CEO of Lerna.ai. “But several high-profile cases, such as the Cambridge Analytica scandal, have alerted people to the privacy dangers of letting personal data be shared between publishers.”

In recent years, the regulatory and technical environment has changed dramatically. States have passed or are in the process of passing laws and regulations that limit and frame the collection and use of personal data. Apple and Google, who have a duopoly on the mobile application ecosystem and together dominate the web browser category, also drastically limit the exchange of data between web and mobile publishers.

Lerna.ai’s solution is to offer publishers the information they need for their business without collecting and using personal data from their users.

“It’s not the data itself that is valuable, but rather the insights that can be gained from it,” explains Georgios Depastas. Lerna.ai has developed an Android library, a collection of mini-computer programs that a publisher can integrate into its Android application.

Once the application is downloaded, these programs analyze how the user uses the application. This analysis is done directly inside the phone. It allows to guess future behaviors of the user.

“One of the first tests we did was to guess which application a user would open next after finishing his session with a first application,” says Georgios Depastas. These lessons are transmitted to the editor without any personal data being necessarily attached to them. The application itself can use these lessons in real time to propose actions to the user. “For the publisher of a paid entertainment application, one use case is to determine the best time to offer the user a discount to subscribe,” says Georgios Depastas.

Another use case is to determine the user’s interests in order to offer them the content that is most likely to interest them, so that they use the application longer and remain a regular user.

A third use case, for an application that features advertising, is to determine what advertising to show and when to make the user most receptive to it.

Lerna.ai’s business model charges application publishers a monthly fee based on the number of users of their application.

Currently, the company is completing tests of a first version of its product.

Lerna.ai employs three people and a full-time intern. It has obtained initial equity financing from 2 venture capital funds based in Greece, where the two co-founders of the company are from, and from angel investors.

Lerna.ai is one of the 20 young SMEs selected this year in the Bourse+ program of Startup Montréal

Next steps for the company:

  • Solicit early adopters to help finalize the product;
  • then begin commercialization, starting with the entertainment, gaming and exercise sectors.