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David Knudsen

Startup Stories: Everything Set Monitors Smart Devices—and Protects Their Data

In this series, we talk to student and alumni entrepreneurs about how they are making an impact with their startups.

Venture: Everything Set, Inc. uses advanced AI on crowdsourced, real-time data to keep people and their electronic devices secure.

Founder: David Knudsen ’91

What was the moment when you had the idea for this startup?

As my wife, Sarah, and I began renovating our home several years ago, we looked at incorporating smart devices like water-use monitors, intelligent thermostats, app-controlled lighting, and smart locks. But Sarah was concerned and raised several questions about the devices: How would we know what they were actually doing? What if they were hacked? What if we were spied on?

About a decade ago, I began working with machine learning algorithms, doing pattern recognition on time series data. I started using more crowdsourced data and very large data sets, which made the algorithms much more effective. I thought, why not apply this to the problem of smart devices? Why not observe their behaviors and communication patterns at scale—all those bits and bytes moving up to the Cloud—to recognize and fix individual device problems as they occur.

With that “A ha” moment, I went about building a business, raising money, and bringing on people I had worked with before. Four years later, our team has built a technically sophisticated product that is both simple and easy to use.

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What’s the problem you’re trying to solve or the gap that you’re trying to fill?

Smart devices provide conveniences in the home but are often susceptible to hacking and other security and privacy risks that people are oblivious to. Users don’t have an easy way to protect themselves and oftentimes don’t even know they’ve been hacked, which means they could be spied on, and their personal data and information compromised. The risks to businesses are also concerning for those who have staff working at home. In our beta, we’ve found electric cars, entertainment devices, and mini-computers infected with malware, and many more dangerous behaviors than expected, all invisible to users.

What was the most important resource Yale SOM contributed to your startup?

Our class of 1991 is an entrepreneurial group, and the most important resource has been the help and investments from fellow alumni. They’ve been part of our beta, provided feedback on our service, made intros for us, and cheered us on. Two married Yale classmates had a set-top box that was one of the first hacked devices we discovered in real time. Left alone it could’ve infected other devices in their home, passed their personal data and information to bad actors, or been controlled for a botnet attack. Just as we envisioned, we alerted and then guided them to a fix before there was a problem. So, Yale SOM and Everything Set have a two-way relationship—fellow alumni have helped us, and we’ve helped them!

What’s the biggest milestone your startup has hit since graduation?

After more than two years in development, including a year-and-a-half beta with more than150 homes across the U.S., we’re now offering our product to the public through our Early Access program