Bastian Purrer (MBA 2020), a native German, spent most of his career before HBS launching international offices for Groupon and Rocket Internet. After a few years in Europe and Asia, Bastian enrolled at HBS hoping to continue his entrepreneurial journey. Rather than completing two years straight, Bastian took a gap between RC and EC to launch an e-commerce startup in Indonesia. Upon selling the startup, he plunged himself in the world of fighting against disinformation and started humanID. Shuyao Kong (MBA 2020), a native Chinese, spent most of her career in the tech world across Middle East and Africa. She’s particularly passionate about blockchain, cryptoeconomics, and privacy. humanID is an anonymous Single-Sign-On replacing “Login with Facebook” while also blocking bot-armies and trolls, with the goal to stop fake news and cyber-bullying.

It was a usual busy Saturday afternoon in Spangler in late October 2019 when Bastian and I met for one of those “coffee chats” where students learn about each other’s background. Bastian and I ended up geeking out on the current security problems facing the modern internet: privacy invasion, misinformation, and disinformation. Bastian had just returned to the U.S. after a gap between his two years at HBS, during which he launched an e-commerce startup in Indonesia. He made the decision to sell his startup, switching his focus to working on impact-only projects like humanID, an anonymous Single Sign On designed to replace the “login with Facebook” option that many websites offer.

That coffee chat was the beginning of many deep conversations Bastian and I shared over the semester. By the end of 2019, I was so convinced that humanID is the answer to the Internet’s most pressing issues that I decided to join the company as a co-founder.

Once the team was formed, we shifted our focus to grant-raising which was when we discovered the many resources that HBS provides for this. To start, we applied and received grants from Harvard Social Impact Fund, a fund dedicated to nonprofits started by Harvard students. Grants such as this one allow us to build a stronger tech backend and developer-console, giving us an edge to compete with Facebook login. We were also regular hustlers at all of the Harvard innovation lab (ilab) activities. For example, we participated in the i-lab startup career fair where we recruited like-minded volunteers to join the organization. We also scheduled frequent mentoring sessions with Entrepreneurs-in-Residence at the i-lab where industry leaders come on campus and mentor founders. The i-lab has been the nest for the humanID team because it’s the center place of all things tech.

While Bastian and I enjoy working alone, the best part of this journey has been the support we have received from volunteers at HBS and the rest of the Harvard community. Adar Anon (MBA 2020) strengthened our tech stack with his 9 years of experience working at the Israeli army. Umang Sota (MBA 2021) helped humanID source clients both in the US and internationally. Mandy Zhang (MBA 2020) leverages her years of nonprofit experience and connected us with foundations that we couldn’t access without her help. Charlotte Chang (MBA 2020) streamlined our operational process. HBS professors also guided us through the process, such as Professor Brian Trelstad, who introduced us to many of his contacts in the impact space and continues to encourage us when we hit roadblocks.

humanID is now integrating with our first client, Green Zone, a Yelp-like review app focusing on social attributes. For example, rather than reviewing a restaurant’s food quality, visitors can review whether the restaurant is friendly to ethnic minorities or has a gender-neutral bathroom. humanID powers GreenZone’s identity layer so that all GreenZone users remain completely anonymous when they submit a review. Even better, because humanID requires users to have a valid phone number, it blocks large amounts of bot army from polluting the GreenZone app with fake reviews, which is rampant on many other review sites. humanID is a B2B2C company and our client base ranges from polling site to social media apps. We put privacy and fraud at the heart of our mission.

In addition, our marketing team has produced digestible educational content on the topics of privacy, security, and disinformation, making these complicated topics more accessible to the general public. We are part of Mozilla’s Fix-The-Internet Incubator program and will continue to grow the company with the goal of bringing privacy and accountability back to the modern internet.

humanID would not have accelerated had it not been for HBS’s support, both financially and spiritually. The campus is full of eager students who are always challenging our assumptions, and nurturing faculty members who utilize all their resources to see us succeed. Moving forward, humanID is tackling the identity issue from a grassroot perspective, continuously onboarding more clients and educating the public on the fight to fix the modern internet.