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Change of business works for technology firm

Dublin tech firm Sentry Wireless is on the cusp of major change with a unique firewall for SIM cards due to begin trials in early March.

The SIM product marks a new departure for the company, which launched in 2006 to sell KidSafe, a parental control service that allows parents to


approve the names in their children’s mobile phone phonebooks and control inbound and outbound calls and text messages.

Kidsafe

“We think we had a clear customer proposition with KidSafe. That is reflected in the fact that where we have launched the product in Singapore, 98 per cent of users are still using it after eight months, at US$15 a month. It is a very good product in that regard. However, we realised it wasn’t as scalable as we hoped and midway through 2009 we shifted our strategic focus to anti-spam.” — Matt Norton, chief executive, Sentry Wireless



“We realised that the children’s product wasn’t as scalable as we had previously hoped and as a result we had to shift from the kids products to anti-spam. That in effect was almost restarting the company. During 2009, we sought additional investment, which we successfully closed the first round of at the end of the year,” said Matt Norton, chief executive, Sentry Wireless

From the outset, the company was aware the SIM-based technology had wide-reaching implications.

“As a result of that, all of our patents and technology have gone been submitted in a much broader manner. We own the patent for the concept of a firewall on a SIM card,” said Norton.

Shifting Strategic Focus

The company concentrated primarily on marketing KidSafe until early 2009, selling the product in Ireland and Singapore.

“We think we had a clear customer proposition with KidSafe. That is reflected in the fact that where we have launched the product in Singapore, 98 per cent of users are still using it after eight months, at US$15 a month. It is a very good product in that regard. However, we realised it wasn’t as scalable as we hoped and midway through 2009 we shifted our strategic focus to anti-spam,” said Norton.

SpamGuard enables subscribers to identify and block SMS spam in one click using a client on the SIM or handset. It is the only spam solution that is visible to the subscriber and demonstrates that the operator is taking proactive action against messaging abuse.

For SpamGuard, Sentry has opted for all-new business and pricing models. Its route to market is via networking partners — companies that sell messaging systems to mobile operators. These include Airwide Solutions, Tekelec and Acision.



The company’s strategy is to ‘talk direct and sell indirect’. It sits down with mobile operators and messaging partners, but sells only to the latter.

Sound Advice

Norton’s advice to other companies is to partner with the right people.

“If you start your own business, the most important thing is to have a good business partner. Doing it on your own is incredibly difficult. Not only does it mean you get a better result working with somebody else, because you get a different view, but it shares the burden of starting up a company. If you then add strong experienced, non-executives it makes it much easier again.”

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