EUR 12M for BotGuard’s AI-Powered Bot Protection

  • Tallinn-based cybersecurity startup BotGuard secured EUR 12M in a Series A round
  • The startup’s AI-powered SaaS grants web hosting providers and their clients control over their traffic and security against bot-related threats
  • The new investment will fuel BotGuard’s ongoing product development and global scaling

This March, Estonian cybersecurity SaaS BotGuard closed its Series A round of EUR 12M. The well-known Estonian fund Tera Ventures (invested in Supersimple recently) and Expeditions Fund invested repeatedly, but the lead investor of this round is MMC Ventures.

Founders’ Profound Experience and Personal Pain

Nikita Rozenberg, Co-Founder and CEO at BotGuard

BotGuard was founded in 2019 by Nikita Rozenberg (CEO) and Denis Prochko (CTO). The former has over 25 years’ experience in engineering and entrepreneurship and has founded companies in Israel, Canada, and Estonia, and the latter has over 25 years experience working in cybersecurity and banking software. As website owners, the two have quite some experience battling malicious web traffic. Recognising the need for an accessible and affordable solution for other website owners, they have put together a seasoned team of professionals with profound experience in the web hosting industry and started BotGuard.

‘Born from the pain of living through this problem, Nik and Denis have built an impressive business, and the incredible traction BotGuard OÜ has seen to date demonstrates how well they understand this problem. As generative AI makes the malicious threats businesses are facing even more sophisticated, the BotGuard team has its own AI-powered solution – effectively fighting AI with AI. We share their vision in growing together to build a secure internet that is accessible to everyone,’ MMC Ventures’ partner Mina Samaan comments.

The Importance of Traffic Quality Control

Mina Samaan, Partner at MMC Ventures

According to Imperva’s 2024 Bad Bot Report, 49.6% of all internet traffic in 2023 wasn’t human, as human traffic levels decreased to 50.4% of all traffic. When used for good, bots can benefit a company by crawling and indexing a website to improve search engine results. Also, every payment system, CMS, or social tool uses ‘good bots.’ However, bad bot traffic can be harmful to operations, exposing website owners to threats such as data theft, scams, and DDoS attacks and driving up costs of mitigating these threats.

Every business should have effective web traffic management, yet there are no affordable solutions focused on the SME segment due to complicated and expensive onboarding processes. We are democratizing web security by offering web hosting providers a flexible, easy-to-use, and cost-effective solution that still offers the highest level of control over web traffic,’ Mr Rozenberg states.

A More Intuitive and Affordable Tool

Jason Haworth, CPO at BotGuard

BotGuard’s technology is proprietary and developed in-house. It selectively blocks bad bot traffic in real time, while granting unrestricted access to human users, search engines, and affiliate bots. The technology uses AI-enabled automation to detect abnormal behavior.

The technology is user-friendly and enables fine-grained control for web hosting providers. This means controls can be easily customized for the specific needs of each hosting provider and website owner.

According to BotGuard’s CPO Jason Haworth, the solution took shape during the boom of automation and AI. Much of our product is based on the idea of automating protection with simple parameters set and letting the proprietary machine learning systems detect new attack types and crowdsource their discoveries to turn them into protection patterns. Thus BotGuard’s solution bypasses many of the traditional knobs and dials that one can see in a legacy WAF and Bot Protection solution.

‘We do still offer very granular controls, but they are designed to be simple and easy to set up. By removing complexity and automating many of our tasks, we’ve saved ourselves time and money compared to legacy WAF and Bot Protection solutions, and we pass these savings along to our customers,’ Mr Haworth adds.

Mikolaj Firlej, Co-Founder and General Partner at Expeditions Fund

According to BotGuard, the solution can serve the full spectrum of shared and dedicated web hosting providers, but predominantly sells directly to website hosting providers that count small and mid-sized businesses as customers. Scaling their economies, these providers can, for example, upsell BotGuard’s offering to small and mid-sized businesses – and thus set themselves apart from other web hosting providers that don’t offer web traffic management systems. On the website owners’ side, selecting BotGuard as an add-on is ‘as simple as adding a side of fries.’

Recognition and Ambition

BotGuard was named one of the Top Estonian Startups to Follow in 2023 and nominated for Cloud Security Innovator of the Year by Edge Middle East Security Awards 2024.

‘BotGuard is a hidden gem of the European tech scene. The company has grown rapidly over the last three years thanks to their innovative business model, know-how, and technology leadership. We believe that recent advances in AI have significantly contributed to faster and more sophisticated production of bots, so a bot prevention market is very attractive. It is clear that the company has achieved a product-market fit and it is a leader in offering bot mitigation and prevention software for SMBs across multiple countries,’ Expeditions Fund’s co-founder and general partner Mikolaj Firlej tells ITKeyMedia.

Stanislav Ivanov, Founding Partner at Tera Ventures

The Series A round is meant to enable BotGuard to develop its technology further, recruit tech more development talent, and expand its sales and marketing teams as the company continues to scale globally.

‘There’s an addressable market of over 300 million websites that require the level of protection BotGuard can provide. By partnering with web hosting providers, the business has achieved an economy of scale to SME websites. The company is putting hosting providers in the driver’s seat, providing them with a straightforward and robust solution which protects against myriad web threats and offers complete control over web traffic. We look forward to offering the team our continued support as they scale the business globally,’ Tera Ventures’ founding partner Stanislav Ivanov concludes.


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