Meet John Ozbay, CEO of Cryptee

April 12, 2022
7 mins read
John Ozbay CEO of Cryptee
John Ozbay CEO of Cryptee

John Ozbay is the founder & CEO of Cryptee, a service that brings encryption to your photos and personal notes.

He is a master at creating unique experiences and artifacts using code, music, and robotics.

He is an engineer/creative who has won numerous awards. In 2016, he attended the Oscars with his works.

What is the story of Cryptee?

My background includes Computer Science, Electronics, and Music.

As a child, I began making music and tinkering around with electronics.

Since then, I haven’t stopped writing code. Before Cryptee, there were many other projects I worked on.

Interactive installations, experiential brand presences in NYC Pride Parade, and interactive parks in Las Vegas were just some of the many projects I’ve worked on.

In 2016, I was able to walk the red carpet at the Oscars with an automatic installation.

I continued to compose classical piano music, made a lot of albums, gained an audience, and met some of my musical idols.

I have been extremely fortunate to meet many amazing people, and I noticed a pattern in my interactions in 2017.

Each month, another data privacy scandal broke, and almost everyone I spoke to asked me what they could do to keep safe online.

The fear stemmed from the common theme that companies had too much information about us.

There was no easy way to keep any data private, whether personal documents or photos. So, I decided to do something.

I was in NY at the time and knew I had to leave NY to be able to protect my privacy.

In 30 days, I packed up my life and moved to Estonia. Crypto was my savings.

After one year of programming, I posted about Cryptee on Reddit in June 2018.

It received 20,000 hits within a matter of hours.

It was quite a humbling experience, to put it mildly.

How do you stay productive?

My typical days are research, design, coding, customer support, and finally, time in front of the piano.

It’s easy to break it down: I spend some time each day researching, reading, and searching for inspiration or design ideas I can use in Cryptee.

It can be anything from digging up old magazines with great typography to listening to our customers’ opinions on the internet about how Cryptee should work or what features they would like to see.

These ideas are then put into practice by me in the form of Cryptee.

To see if I can break the mold a bit, I am trying to challenge myself to create a new UI / UX layout every other day.

Once I’m done with moving pixels, I take a break to code.

It is usually divided equally between bug fixes and building automated tests to catch future bugs.

Sometimes, I crave a creative project after a coding session.

I then sit down at my piano to try and scratch that itch.

This technical/artistic/technical/creative cadence keeps me productive, and I rarely feel tired.

It is what motivates me to get out of bed each morning excitedly.

​How do you bring ideas to life?​

One of the strange side effects of working in security and privacy is constantly thinking about what could happen.

It’s a pessimistic field. I would venture to say.

Many of our work ideas revolve around privacy enhancements or features to improve our security.

I try to balance new features and ways to improve our services.

My method consists of reading papers on security, privacy, and legal policies, followed by some time spent thinking about ways we could add these features to our services.

Then I look at whether this new addition requires a unique design solution (i.e., I then look into whether this new addition would require a new design solution (i.e., a setting panel or a checkbox somewhere) or whether we could add it to our users’ privacy and security automatically, without their input.

Next, I chat with users via social media for a few weeks about their ideas.

I send them design sketches or invite them to beta-test our software and see what they think.

Once all that is done, I get to work on it.

What’s your favorite trend?

It’s fantastic to see more privacy-respecting tools, services, and preferences everywhere.

I am happy to see people realizing how much data they are sharing and how little information is necessary to be able to use the services that we use every day.

Whether it’s a privacy-conscious email service or a new privacy setting on our phones.

I am optimistic about the future of data privacy, unlike some of my peers.

Many notable people are working around the globe to solve some of today’s most challenging privacy issues.

​What habits make you productive?

It’s essential to change my creative and technical hats daily.

I find that coding for a while, switching to music, and working on new features and design helps me stay productive.

This daily routine and work rhythm help me calm down and gives me some breathing space between large tasks.

A 30-minute daily coffee ritual is a part of my daily routine.

I switch off all notifications and screens, then take a break from the digital world by enjoying a cup of coffee, chocolate, or pastry.

Every company should have a mandatory midday coffee/tea break.

What’s your advice for the Noob?

I fall prey to perfectionism quite often. I judge my music and tech work and don’t share it until it is perfect.

I would tell my younger self to make more of the angsty music I wrote if I could travel back in time.

It’s OK to create cheesy music. Don’t be afraid to share it with others.

Share it and let others decide if it’s good.

What is one thing we can all agree on?

It can be time-consuming to read books.

I was a massive fan of books, but I realized how many authors used longer sentences and more complex paragraphs to convey their ideas.

This is also true for academic papers. It is a bizarre and widespread phenomenon.

It is almost as if the quality of scholarly articles or books can be measured in terms of their weight.

​What do you recommend as an entrepreneur?

Enjoy a cup of tea or coffee, and then take a break to listen to classical music.

While I don’t think other music genres are bad, classical music is unique.

A daily cup of coffee and a classical music routine will help you relax far more than any other music with lyrics.

What’s your rich strategy?

Our excellent customer service/helpdesk has been one of our most successful growth strategies.

Our customer support communications are educational, open, and transparent.

We don’t want to be an entity that responds to all questions with robots.

I think it’s essential for privacy-first companies like us to provide simple, informative, easy-to-understand responses to everyone, even to not-so-technically-savvy folks like my parents.

This takes a lot of time. It took me longer to realize that it required more time and resources.

This has been one of the most significant resource bottlenecks we have encountered. It’s so worth it.

How do you overcome Failure?

My biggest mistake and failure, and many other entrepreneurs, was believing that people would find me if I created something.

Unfortunately, that is not the case. It doesn’t matter how grand a stadium is; people won’t come if it’s not visible.

It doesn’t matter what the stadium meant to you or how much money or time you spent on it.

The second biggest mistake was to place too much emphasis on the tech and not enough on customer service and marketing.

This is similar to the first, but it is crucial to understand that even if your tech is excellent, it won’t be enough if it can’t be marketed.

Even if you manage to sell your product and gain tons of customers, great tech won’t be much if you don’t provide support for them.

It took me some time to accept this fact, and then I took corrective actions by investing more in outreach, marketing, education, and making the platform more accessible.

​Can you share a business idea?​

You can make almost any app, web service, or product that respects privacy more privacy-friendly.

You can create tools that protect and respect your users’ privacy.

You can make a privacy-respecting mood tracking app that uses encryption, so you don’t have access to your users’ emotions.

You can also make a privacy-respecting app for bus tickets that don’t track your travels with a GPS.

You can also create a private fitness tracker without connecting with intelligent refrigerators.

You can be sure there is a lot of money in this industry, and your users will appreciate it every week.

What’s your recent best buy? ​

I purchased many coffees to try, and it was a joy every day during the quarantine lockdown.

We tend to buy the same coffee every day, and then we don’t enjoy it.

Every day, I wanted a new blend, strength, aroma, flavor, temperature, taste, and smell in my coffee breaks.

It made them so much more fun and gave me something to look forward to!

What are your favorite Softwares or Apps?

Although it sounds a bit meta, we use Cryptee every day to work on Cryptee.

One of the perks of using a productivity tool is that we are its most significant users.

Sentry (https://sentry.io) is another essential tool we rely upon.

Crypto, like all apps, has bugs. Sentry allows us to track, identify and hunt down bugs.

Sentry, just like Cryptee, is entirely open source.

They are also incredibly kind people who sponsor Cryptee.

Which book would you recommend?

All entrepreneurs should read The Art and Science of Thinking.

This book explains in brief chapters 99 common thinking mistakes – errors that all of us make every day, from cognitive biases to envy or social distortions.

It will help you to become a rational thinker.

The chapters are concise, easy to understand, and simple to put into action.

You will learn great information that you can immediately apply.

A branch can be read in 15 minutes on the subway.

​What’s your favorite quote?​

My favorite quote is, “Everything owes its existence, solely or completely, to sound.”

Dr. Hans Jenny says that sound is what holds it all together.

He is believed to have first invented the term Cymatics in the 1960s.

‘karma, meaning wave’ in Greek, and ‘-magic, meaning ‘willing,’ refers to objects’ willingness to produce waves (or vibrate).

It simply recognizes everything having a resonance frequency, and thus, everything is intrinsically linked to sound.

Sound is essentially a vibration that propagates through a transmission medium, such as a gas or liquid, as an acoustic wave.

This quote reminds me of the power of music to influence matter at a molecular level.

TL;DR by John Ozbay

Respect others’ privacy, and they will respect you and your company.

It doesn’t necessarily mean that people will use what you have created.

Good tech doesn’t necessarily mean anything if you can’t market your tech.

Stick to a routine that works for you. Do not forget to take a break for a cup of coffee.

Listen to classical music.


Enterprenuer is a social interview and story publishing platform for entrepreneurs, founders, businessmen, businesswomen, startups, and anyone who inspires people globally.

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