in Montreal, Quebec, Startups

Defensio – Anti-Spam Startup

picture-1-9.pngOk, this takes guts: entering a market with a niche product where the incumbent is not only a darling of the industry, but owns the primary platform on which you are going to have to compete for users. Akismet really changed everything for bloggers. We used to spend hours a week deleting comment spam, but Akismet made that all go away.

Enter Defensio.

Defensio is coming after the same market as Akismet (going as far as to provide only a WordPress plugin so far). We are late to the game in profiling them, and while the reviews have all been really positive so far, most end with the idea that the author will probably just stick with Akismet.

It would be really easy to write off Defensio at this point. This is the part where the VC tells Carl, Mathieu and the other guys at Defensio that they aren’t differentiated, that the market is too small and that the incumbent has way too much penetration, especially with early adopters. (don’t let the door hit you on the way out)

I see it differently. The second mover has a serious chance to make it big here. Defensio’s current strategy is to charge high-volume bloggers and commercial bloggers a small fee for using Defensio’s anti-spam technology. This is potentially lucrative on its own. If Defensio can provide a higher level of integration support and a better protection product, then they will be able to win some customers over from Akismet, but it is absolutely going to be a hard-fought battle, with everyone trying to row the boat a little harder in order to win.

The real opportunity for Defensio however is to raid the markets that Akismet has left untouched. Where Akismet has proven the technology, and opened an initial market which Defensio can sell to, they are also leaving peripheral markets completely alone.

dartboard.pngIf you believe, like I do, that user generated content is, and will be even more of, a big deal, then you have to accept that SPAM is going to be an even bigger problem down the road. Where Norton and McAfee made millions selling anti-spam products for your Outlook client, Defensio has an opportunity to become the enterprise-strength anti-spam solution for user-generated content.

Review websites, corporate homepages, public wikis, all deal with serious spam problems. Considering the anti-spam market, which is speculated to be in the $2billion or higher range, still hasn’t started providing the sort of lightweight but bulletproof solutions that bloggers have grown accustomed to means that there is probably an entirely new market sitting there waiting for someone to come to the rescue.

To do this, Defensio will have to work hard on building some early partnerships, which is admittently a tough job. I am looking forward to checking in with Defensio in 6 months to see how things are going.

Contact Carl Mercier