Youth Entrepreneur of the Year 2023: Aanikh Kler gets clear about Surf’s data collection

Surf is a privacy-first browser extension that helps protect data

The world of online data collection feels shrouded in mystery—and, often, that’s by design. “You’d be shocked how many browser extensions exist to change the theme on your Google Chrome, or make your mouse clicker pink, and are actually tracking what people do on the internet without telling them,” says Aanikh Kler. “It’s quite a widespread problem.”

But Surf, a privacy-first browser extension created by Kler’s co-founder, Swish Goswami, is all about transparency. According to Kler, the business serves both enterprises (via protecting them from the legal ramifications of collecting data illegally) and consumers (via making sure that their data is not being tracked without consent). For example, Surf is working with Riot Games—the American developer of League of Legends—for the LoL World Championship, the world’s largest esports event. Surf will ask for participant and audience feedback and data in exchange for prizes (for example, an all-expenses paid trip to next year’s event).

Surf’s enterprise clients use the data collected to improve their formatting, re-target audiences for relevant promotions and create more revenue-generation opportunities. “The audience that we’re able to drive to these initiatives is much more engaged and interested than a general audience,” explains Kler.

Riot isn’t the only big fish in Surf’s proverbial pond: since it was founded in 2019, the Vancouver-based company has worked with Amazon, EA, Netflix, the NBA and the NFL. “We’re really trying to push this idea of responsible data collection into more and more enterprises,” says Kler, adding that new features that allow businesses to run their own independent data programs are on the horizon. “Our hope is to continue building products that allow these large companies to get the data they need, but to do so in a way that is not only compliant with privacy standards, but also equitable for the consumer.”