Having closed a seed round of funding, Halifax-based social media marketing company InNetwork Inc. is already talking to venture capital funds about a follow-on round, likely in the middle of 2013.
Innovacorp, the provincial innovation agency, announced Thursday that it made a $250,000 equity investment in the company, which helps social media marketers reach key “influencers” in their target market. A group led by Gerry Pond of East Valley Ventures Inc. put in $240,000.
In an Interview, InNetwork CEO Chris Keevill said the company is already in discussions about further funding with four or five leading Canadian VC funds, though he declined to name a target in dollar terms for the next round.
“They came to us, and it was for three reasons,” said Keevill, who is also CEO of the Halifax public relations firm Colour, which InNetwork was spun out of. “First, social media is hot. Second, we’re in a part of the world that is hot, and that’s Atlantic Canada. And third, Gerry Pond is our Chairman.”
The company is a perfect fit for Pond, who early on identified the power of social media and backed social media analytics company Radian6, which later sold out to Salesforce.com for about $370 million. As well as naming Pond the chairman, InNetwork named Innovacorp’s Thomas Rankin to its board.
Pond has now invested in all three Maritime provinces (he’s also an investor in ScreenScape of Charlottetown). The fact his group is backing more Maritime companies shows money from the exits of Radian6 and Q1 Labs, which he also backed, is being channeled into a new generation of startups across the region.
As reported in the Chronicle-Herald last month, InNetwork, which has offices in Halifax and Toronto, assembles a network of influencers, who are people such as bloggers, editors or experts with tremendous reach and influence within an identifiable group.
Keevill said InNetwork vets and approves influencers to ensure that they are bona fide opinion leaders and now has 100 influencers registered and has relationships with a further 300. It will soon beta-test the product with about six Canadian customers and then plans to take the service to the U.S. next year.
Though this is the first time Innovacorp and East Valley have co-invested in a deal, it’s worth noting that last month Pond was a member of a group of international investors that teamed up with Innovacorp to put money into LeadSift, another Halifax social media-related company.
East Valley is not a venture capital fund but a group of angel investors, mainly from New Brunswick, who mentor and/or invest directly in startups.
The other co-founders of InNetwork are Duri Alajrami, the President of Colour Social and former social media practice lead for Ogilvy Canada, and Craig Rennick, a former executive with startups FloNetwork and Fortiva.