WisBusiness: MailFoundry CEO Troup is ‘Born Hacker’

By Nik Sutter

GREEN BAY — Since the age of 12, David Troup has been playing with, developing and selling software. A born “hacker,” his passion and vision for artificial human intelligence has led him on the entrepreneurial journey and placed him on the forefront of an extremely young, internationally booming software company.

“I’m one of those serial entrepreneurs,” said Troup, CEO and founder of MailFoundry. “If I have one major problem in life, it’s what I call W.D.P. — working-on-due-products.”

Located in the heart of the “Silicon Tundra,” as Troup refers to it, MailFoundry has produced what he believes is today’s most advanced and efficient anti-spam software. With its headquarters just a stone’s throw from Lambeau Field in Green Bay, MailFoundry capitalizes on strong Midwestern business ethics and a commitment to serve its customers.

A product that kills spam-email in any language, MailFoundry software blocks spam messages to more than 5 million e-mail addresses in 35 countries, including the United States, Canada, Central Europe, Asia, South America and the entire island of Aruba.

In 1999, Troup was the co-founder of Solinus Inc., which focused on providing e-mail technologies to companies world-wide. During the process of creating Hostmail.com through Solinus, Troup and colleagues developed high-quality anti-spam software for the system.

With a unique commercial appeal, Troup introduced the new anti-spam software to some interested potential users and with the snap of a finger, MailFoundry was born.

“Immediately, we started signing up several hundreds of users per month. Every year since then, we’ve been posting record growth,” remarked Troup.

With nearly all sales being done over the Internet, one of the biggest challenges MailFoundry has faced was establishing an efficient sales cycle.

Initially, the process from client purchase to use took nearly six to eight weeks. By simply changing its pricing structure to be more “a la carte,” MailFoundry’s sales cycle immediately dropped to less than a week, thus completely changing the business. Currently, its turnaround time stands at about 48 hours, from time of purchase to time of first use.

Although anti-spam software is can be tremendous at blocking unwanted e-mail, there are still “false-positives” that commonly occur. The leading ongoing problem in the industry may be “false-positives” that occur when the anti-spam software recognizes an important e-mail as spam, and blocks its transit.

However, with a specific focus on blocking only unwanted messages, MailFoundry continues to develop its wizard-like software that boasts the lowest false-positive count in the industry.

“Our number one concern is to protect your message,” Troup said. “We certainly want to kill spam, but keeping that critical communication line open is most important. People need to be able to trust their e-mail.”

As an online user, one can expect spam to be one of the costs. According to Consumer Reports “State of the Net 2006” estimates, American consumers spent at least $7.8 billion for computer repairs, parts and replacement over the past two years as a result of viruses and spyware alone.

Adding in the cost of “phishing” e-mail scams and lost productivity dealing with spam, the figure could be double. And, it has been estimated that more than half of the two trillion e-mail messages sent in 2006 are likely to be spam.

Recently, MailFoundry increased the capabilities of its popular 1150 software, in terms of supported users, CPU speed, form factor and message throughput.

“Our competitors limit their low-end units in terms of features or restrict the number of domains the product can handle,” Troup said. “This practice is painful to their customers who are forced to purchase the capacity they don’t need in order to get a feature they want. The MailFoundry 1150 gives customers all the features but with a price that’s easy on the budget.”

As a primarily direct-sales company, the next challenge ahead for MailFoundry is to change to a channel-sales model, and sell directly to retailers, who will then deliver the product to consumers. MailFoundry has some retail partners, such as Doreo Hosting; however, nearly all of MailFoundry consumer-direct sales originate from MailFoundry headquarters.

With a belief that small businesses are a fuel of this economy, MailFoundry has developed a free trial version of the software for companies with 10 or fewer users.

In addition, MailFoundry is launching a new e-mail steam engine that’s different than anything else out there.

Like a true “serial entrepreneur.” Troup’s goal is to continue innovating – and staying ahead of the pack.

Sutter is a student in the Department of Life Sciences Communication at UW-Madison.