Once you understand Guild Solution's target market, it’s easy to comprehend the upside of this young Bedford startup.
Guild, which is set to graduate from PropelICT’s Build cohort, has developed administrative software for the association management industry, and has already found clients in the space. Specifically, it targets professional colleges, which are the organizations that oversee the credentials and membership of licensed professions. Examples would be the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia – if you want to practice this profession, you have to a member in good standing of the group.
These organizations have a problem. It’s hard to administer all the data that they’re responsible for. What Guild’s software does is provide cloud-based software that allows simple collection, distribution and updating of that data.
“If you consider that 20 percent of the North American workforce needs to be licensed in order to do their jobs, that puts it in perspective in terms of how big that market is,” said Founder and CEO Colin Gourlay in an interview.
For about 20 years, Gourlay has headed Electric Playground Media, a Bedford-based digital consultancy that now employs six people. A few years ago, Electric Playground did a small project for the Nova Scotia College of Medical Laboratory Technologists, which wanted to find some way to put its membership data online. Once Gourlay’s team completed that task, it began to get requests from other such bodies.
“They liked it so much that we got referrals and we got other clients,” he said. “It is a substantial market and none of the products that were already on the market were really serving it.”
The team has spent a couple of years refining a product that automates the process of digitally registering and renewing memberships and collecting fees. It helps members to update their qualifications. It can export customized data reports and submit them instantly to the Canadian Institute for Health Information – a process that normally takes days or even weeks.
Guild Solutions now has eight customers, and 4,400 users are now on the platform. It expects to sign two more customers by the end of the year. Most customers are in Nova Scotia and it’s about to sign its first clients in Newfoundland and Labrador and Saskatchewan. The company has already banked $500,000 in revenue from these customers, and has signed contracts that will bring in about $470,000 in revenue in the next five years.
Gourlay is also doing all the startup stuff, like raising money and going through an accelerator. So far he’s tapped friends and family and Innovacorp for a total of $160,000 in initial financing. And he’s just finishing the Propel ICT Build cohort, the segment of the regional accelerator caters to growth-stage companies. In the first quarter of 2018, he hopes to raise about $750,000 to $1 million, which will help the company cover the costs of attending major trade shows and conducting other sales.
Meanwhile, Gourlay has the task of managing two companies, which he says he manages with, “Just a lot of hours.”
He added: “I have a fantastic team here at Electric Playground and we just have a really good system for getting things done. The two companies actually complement each other quite nicely.”