• Paired is a relationship app designed to improve communication between couples
  • The business holds sensitive data that users don’t want shared with anyone except their partners
  • Its cross-departmental working group of Privacy Champions is using the Hub to create a sense of continuous improvement throughout the company

What does Paired do?

Paired is a relationship app that helps couples communicate better with their partner through daily conversations, fun questions and quizzes. Since its launch in 2020, Paired has grown from around 1,000 monthly active users to more than 500,000 across the UK, US, Canada and Australia. The 40-strong team has secured more than £3m in funding from investors including Taavet Hinrikus (a former co-founder of TransferWise) and the founders of Runtastic, which was sold to Adidas. Paired was named Apple App of the Day in November 2021. 

“It felt like the right time to establish something a bit more robust, less adhoc, and reactionary”

Tom Priestley
VP of Operations at Paired

The privacy challenge for Paired

Because of the model the app uses, Paired holds very sensitive data, Tom Priestley, VP of Operations, says. It’s important that privacy stays front of mind. “Everyone’s sharing answers to personal questions that they only want their partner to see. It’s really important that we’re as secure as we can possibly be with that data. Users have to extend an element of trust to sign up to the app. If something were to go wrong, I think the consequences for our app would be far greater than for another in a less sensitive area.”

Other cautionary tales from the sector provided a sense of urgency, he adds. “You see it all the time – other apps having data leaks or using data in a way they shouldn’t, then getting fined or falling out of favour with their users. That also puts pressure on getting this sorted.” 

As the team grew and the number of territories the company operated in expanded, there was also a growing urgency to streamline and standardise the company’s approach to privacy compliance. The founding team was also aware this would eventually come up in due diligence with investors at a later stage. “We don’t have a legal counsel in-house and we don’t have a privacy person,” Priestley says. “As you get bigger, there are more interdependencies and more blindspots between teams. Data and privacy becomes harder to manage. It felt like the right time to establish something a bit more robust, less adhoc, and reactionary. We’re still pre-Series A so I like to think we’re on the front foot with this because we think it’s important.”

How the Privacy Compliance Hub has helped Paired succeed

Priestley says the cultural mindset of the Privacy Compliance Hub appealed greatly, although it was a mindset shift for some of the executive team. “At the very start of the process, especially in a new business, you’re thinking of compliance like a tick box exercise – what do I need to do and how quickly can I do that? But that doesn’t get you very far with privacy. It affects the whole business and you need everyone to be on board, not just an abstract group of people thinking about it in some obscure corner of the company.”  

It seemed more effective, he adds, to have “everyone at Paired thinking in the same way about privacy. That means people can make smart decisions when questions come up because they’re aware of how important it is. Rather than having to constantly ask or constantly question what the right thing to do is. The Hub seemed perfect for that.” 

The successful privacy outcome

So far, Paired has appointed a working group of champions who are working through the Route Map. There’s a palpable sense of continuous improvement within the whole business, Priestley says. “The most useful thing has been the establishment of this Champions group, which is something that the Hub promotes early on. That’s having the biggest impact. We’re not perfect but it’s a lot better than we were before and there’s definitely a comfort level of working through the different steps and making progress.” 

Privacy is led from the top and front of mind, he adds, and the training has become a core part of the onboarding process. “A lot of it is awareness to ask a question or flag something, when something could be good from a business perspective but bad from a privacy and data management perspective. There are a lot of tricky calls that need to be made. This helps us stay on top of it.”

“It’s been a really good tool and I’ve felt very supported. I’m a big fan.”

Tom Priestley
VP of Operations at Paired

The Hub has also been a good resource for templates and policies, as well as a place to search for answers to questions or definitions the team isn’t sure about. “It’s been a jumpstart in those areas, and helps you get on with the job yourself,” Priestley says. “It’s been a really good tool and I’ve felt very supported. I’m a big fan.”