September 9, 2012
If you’re in the business of content creation, you’ve probably fallen victim to others repurposing your work on their website – whether you’re aware of it or not. As a quick test, copy and paste a paragraph from one of your top blog posts or articles into Google. Are others claiming your work as their own? If so, you’ve fallen victim to content scraping.
This is where DC-based Distil comes in. The service will both detect and prevent content scraping bots from making off with your site’s information.
Tech Cocktail caught up with Rami Essaid, co-Founder and CEO at Distil to learn more.
Tech Cocktail: What was the inspiration behind Distil? What do you enjoy most about working on it?
Rami Essaid: We started after talking to online publishers about their security needs, and quickly realized that digital publishers had no control over their content once they put it on the web. We started working to create the first platform aimed to help them protect and control their information.
As the company picked up momentum, we slowly transitioned it from an after work project to a full time job leaving our careers to devote all of our time to Distil. The best part of it all is seeing the culmination of your hard work in a product that people use and love.
Who is your greatest competitor, and how do you differentiate yourself?
Essaid: There are currently two existing companies that claim to address content scraping. They both utilize a plug in or hardware approach to tackle the problem. They are very difficult to integrate, do not block bots in real-time, slow down a company’s infrastructure, are not as effective at stopping bots, and are 3x-10x Distil’s cost.
What is the biggest advantage and disadvantage of starting up in DC?
Essaid: The biggest advantage Washington DC has is that it is full of educated, talented, young professionals (46% of residents over 25 have a four-year degree; 25% have a graduate or professional degree). This makes DC a perfect petri dish for hiring.
The downside to starting up in the District is that government and politics will always rein king, making everything else second rate. Startups in the district will never get the spotlight making it hard to drive a strong startup culture in the area. This is slowly starting to change but it will take time.
Describe a challenging moment or a crucial decision for Distil. How did you deal with it, and what did you learn from it?
Essaid: A crucial point for Distil was when we were deciding whether or not to accept the invitation to participate in the Techstars Accelerator in Texas. This meant we would be leaving our homes and family for 3 months to drink, eat and breath the company. We ultimately decided the opportunity could not be passed up and it turned out to be the best decision we have ever made.
Essaid: One of the founding members of our team, Sean, somehow ends up missing out on every group photo the other three of us take together. It is mainly because Engin, Andrew and I have been friends for over a decade and spend a lot more time together. This now has become a running joke and we often either have a fill in for Sean for group photo’s or just photoshop him in awkwardly after the fact.
Distil Inc. was one of the showcased startups at the recent Tech Cocktail DC Mixer.
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