IntroHive Inc., a Fredericton- and Washington, D.C.-based startup that helps large companies to mine the contacts of their staff, has raised $1.8 million from GrowthWorks Atlantic Venture Fund, the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation and a range of angels.
The company was founded by Jody Glidden and Stewart Walchli, who previously launched New Brunswick’s Chalk Media, which they sold to BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion for $30 million in 2009. They came together earlier this year to found IntroHive, with seed funding from Fortify Ventures of Washington, D.C., and CIT Gap Funds of Virginia. Some 40 companies are now using an early version of the software.
“They are serial entrepreneurs and those are the sort of people that we as investors like to back,” said Peter Clark, GrowthWorks Atlantic’s Vice-President of Investments. He said Glidden and Walchli have proven they could start, grow and sell a company, but the fact they’ve worked together shows the team has the chemistry that can produce a winner.
IntroHive helps large corporations to avoid having to make cold calls – especially for sales but in developing other relationships as well – by determining who in your company already has a strong relationship with a company you want to reach.
Here’s how it works: Say a salesman in Company A (a company large enough that the staff don’t know each other) wants to reach a potential client in Company B. He can use IntroHive to research whether any of his colleagues know someone at the target company. IntroHive will scan Company A’s email server, mobile devices, existing customer relationship management software and even LinkedIn to learn who has been in touch with people regularly at Company B. Once they are identified, the salesman can contact his colleagues, ask the nature of the relationship and ask for some help in approaching the contact. Adios cold calling.
“It’s a huge market,” said Clark. “Any company with a sales force that selling in a business-to-business market would benefit from the IntroHive product.”
Glidden said in an interview the company now plans to spend 2013 building up a sales and marketing team to court customers across North America.
GrowthWorks is investing $1 million in the round, and NBIF is coming in with $250,000. Angels in Canada and the U.S. will account for the rest of the $1.8 million financing. Clark said that the previous seed round and tapping government programs brings the total funding for the company up to $3 million. Glidden said it is enough money to last about two years, and the company has not decided yet whether it will raise more money.
The founders said earlier in the year that they were seeking about $2 million in funding to invest more in marketing and research and development.
The company now has its development and operations teams in Fredericton, and will use some of the money to develop that base. The marketing effort is divided between Fredericton and Washington. Glidden decided to build up the development team in Fredericton because he has a lot of contact with software engineers and professionals in the city.
"Here in New Brunswick and Atlantic Canada in general, he's able to tap into some great people and at a good price," said Calvin Milbury, President and CEO of NBIF.