How we aim to earn User trust in Trove.

I have previously written how the world needs a framework that startups like ours can adopt to help users decide who is trustworthy.

Startups need to make a case on why users should trust them. This is not a transactional event. As a founder, I can’t just stand in front of a room of people I’ve never met before and say “I’m a good guy, you should trust me.” Trust is not given blindly. It is earned by those who are trustworthy.

People need to be provided with a basis for giving you their trust. As cited in a Ted Talk by Onora O’Neill, my favorite thought-leader on matters of trust, the three most important components of being trustworthy are competence, honesty and reliability.

In the absence of a strong industry framework to follow, here is the strategy we adopted at Trove to earn (and deserve) trust from our users.

We adhere to Core Tenets we established early.

Our company’s top guiding principles were set before our product prototype was in private beta. The very first one is trustworthiness — being that we are fully committed to earning and deserving trust in each other and from our users in everything we do. By making it a priority to build trust in each other, our team is better prepared to earn trust from our users. Building an organization where trust is baked into the very foundation of what we do demands a conscious effort.

By taking this trust-first stance up front, it has provided a clear yardstick for everyone on our team to apply against every decision we make.

Loic Le Meur’s perspective on trust is precisely the outlook we endeavor to emulate. No matter is too small to skip the trust-test we apply to ourselves. Just as it is between people, trust is “the most important and easy to lose connection” startups have with our users and on our team.

We lean on our Experience.

Our founder-led engineering team has over a decade of prior experience securely and durably managing petabytes of highly confidential data for some of the world’s biggest enterprise companies. On the consumer side, we created and managed a file storage and sharing cloud service used by millions of people.

These experiences help demonstrate our team’s unique technical and procedural competencies for protecting data and users. At Trove, we rely on the expertise from our background to build the safest network and security practices we can for our users.

We are intentionally Thorough and Transparent.

We created a special Your Data page on our website to make our security practices and policies accessible and approachable for our users. Our privacy and terms of service policies are designed to favor and protect our users. We also publish an overview of our general technical, operational and financial security practices.

Everyone on the Trove team must sign and adhere to a comprehensive internal Security Trust policy designed to protect our users. We decided to go well beyond what startups at our stage typically do because we believe protecting your data is the most important responsibility we have.

We invite Scrutiny and Feedback.

We sincerely want to put the best-possible security and privacy practices in place for our users. We think one of the best ways to be sure we do that is to invite feedback and actively listen to any concerns our users may have.

“If you make yourself vulnerable to the other party, then that is very good evidence that you are trustworthy and you have confidence in what you are saying.” — O’Neill

We are willing to take a stand.

Taking specific principled stands in our policies is the best way we know to share our sensibilities so they can be considered by people we are asking to trust us. Here are three examples from our policies.

  • We will only disclose information about you if we determine it is necessary or appropriately required by law related to a clear purpose of national security, law enforcement, or other issues of public importance.
  • Unless legally restricted from doing so, we will attempt to notify you of any disclosure of your Personal Information we are legally-compelled to make.
  • We practice what we call Carefully Considered Storage. Trove only stores the minimum amount of content necessary to directly enhance your product experience.

We advocate the importance of evaluating trustworthiness.

Because of our passion around the need to evaluate the trustworthiness of startups, it is a core topic area we are engaging in publicly. This post and my other one on creating a framework are examples of our perspective. Over time, we hope to add an influential and productive voice to this conversation more broadly.

How does your startup talk about the importance of trustworthiness and garner trust from your users?