Interview With Washington DC Startup: Distil, Content Protection Network

If you have a content based web site on the internet ( and who doesn’t) you may want to pay attention to Arlington based startup Distil focuses solely on protecting website owners’ content from data scraping, content theft, and competitive data mining.

Do you have countless sites just stealing your content with no linkback? Have you ever been totally plagiarized without your knowledge just to find in a Google search content that was obviously lifted from your site? Those are just some of the things that happen when your website content is scraped and your data is mined.

More importantly with the case of content scraping, you can actually lose page-rank and hinder your SEO. Most web crawlers discard duplicate content so sometimes when you’re writing articles to maximize your SEO return, you’ll actually lose that content when it’s scraped and thrown on another site without your permission.

In addition to identifying and blocking malicious content and data scraping Distil also accelerates content through 14 global nodes which improves site load time and reduces server load.

We found out all about this and more when we talked with Distil’s co-founder and CEO Rami Essaid in the interview below:

What is your startup, what does it do? 

Distil is the first Content Protection Network that helps companies identify and block malicious content scraping and data theft. Distil makes real-time decisions and seamlessly distinguishes human visitors from malicious bots, with no false positives. Additionally, Distil accelerates content through 14 global nodes, improving page load times and reducing server load.

Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds

Rami Essaid – Co-Founder & CEO

Rami attended North Carolina State University where he majored in computer engineering. Post college, Rami started and ran Chit Chat Communications. After a successful exit, he consulted in mobile development. Prior to Distil, Rami advised Enterprise clients on cloud infrastructure and security at Neustar’s IIS group. Rami helped enterprises embrace the cloud to improve their scalability and reliability while maintaining a high level of security.

Engin Akyol – Co-Founder & CTO

Engin is a computer-engineering graduate from North Carolina State University. He comes to Distil from Cisco systems where he had five years of experience providing networking and network testing consulting for core enterprise customers as part of Cisco’s ECATS group. Engin’s responsibilities included creating and executing test plan’s based on customers’ requirements, interacting with developers to provide quick resolution to issues, and providing recommendations for deploying new networking equipment and software. Prior to Cisco, Engin was a software engineer for Sony Ericsson device drivers and platforms group.

Sean Harmer – Co-Founder & VP Business Development

Sean brings over 12 years of experience in the technology, marketing, and communications industries, serving a wide range of Commercial Fortune 500 Businesses, National Nonprofit Organizations, and Local Startup Ventures.

Andrew Stein – Co-Founder & VP Development

Getting his start running a large online kids’ game, Andrew took his passion for web development to NC State where he became the Senior Web Developer for the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Working on everything from identity management programs to digital signage systems, Andrew has run into a little bit of everything and is always eager for new challenges. He’s also awkwardly passionate about MySQL query optimization.

Where are you based?

We are based in Arlginton VA, adjacent to Washington DC What is the startup culture like where you are based? Washington DC and the Metro area is full of smart, highly motivated young professionals. It was recently awarded 4th best city for startups by Venture Beat.

What problem does your startup solve?

When someone scrapes and duplicates content; they steal visitors, SEO rank, and revenue. Distil’s Content Protection Network helps companies stop this by detecting and preventing malicious web scraping and content theft in real-time.

What is one challenge that you’ve overcome in the startup process?

We have faced a lot of challenges in the startup process. One of the most interesting challenges was how to differentiate ourselves from the increasingly crowded CDN market. We provide a unique service to a focused niche and therefore we learned that our messaging, marketing, and even our pricing had to reflect our individuality.

Who are your mentors and role models?

Duke Skarda – Chief Technology Officer, SoftLayer; Jason Seats – Managing Director, TechStars; Nicole Glaros – Managing Director, TechStars-Boulder; Misha Govshteyn – Founder, Alert Logic; Walker Fenton – Co-founder & CEO, Sepia Labs; Ned Hill – Managing Director, DFJ Mercury; George Karutz – Partner, Karutz Flavin Wells

Whats one thing the world doesn’t know about you or your startup?

Some in the world know this, but many do not. Distil was originally part of the TechStars accelerator and we are extremely proud to be a TechStar company. The program was the most invaluable experience of our lives.

What’s next for your startup?

We are now raising our series A to grow the platform with more nodes, advance our caching and site acceleration, and improve our reporting.


Check out Distil here at

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