Affinio, the Halifax-based social media analytics company backed by Build Ventures, captured third place Tuesday at the Startup Showcase of the prestigious O’Reilly Strata Conference in New York.
The announcement, posted on the conference website, capped off a huge day for Affinio. Earlier in the day, it had launched its first product, Tactics Cloud, which lets small businesses mine social media and other data to find potential customers, partners or employees. It also announced it had received a $1.5 million equity investment from Build Ventures, the regional VC fund based in Halifax.
[Full disclosure: I did some work for Affinio recently and Build Ventures sponsors Entrevestor.]
Co-Founders Tim Burke and Stephen Hankinson were excited to learn last month they’d been accepted to the Strata Conference, one of the world’s leading conferences for Big Data. Burke had already taken the company to 48 Hours in the Hub, a mentoring event for Canadian companies in Boston, but this was a far larger and more public stage.
Affinio was one of 12 companies from around the world selected for the Startup Showcase. In the end, the judging panel of 13 venture capitalists awarded Affinio the bronze medal, exceeded only by Appuri Inc. of Redmond, WA., and the winner Metric Insights of San Francisco.
Affinio is an advanced database technology that allows low-cost, real-time processing of social network graphs to determine how every person on the web is connected. Its first product is Tactics Cloud, which mines publicly available social media posts and other business data to find people who are connected by common interests, experiences or networks. What that means is that small or medium-sized businesses can use Tactics Cloud to find potential customers, employees or supporters. The unique thing about Tactics Cloud is it can find people who have not stated explicitly on social media what their interests or affiliations are.
The $1.5 million funding was the second investment by Build Ventures Managers Patrick Keefe and Rob Barbara, who previously backed Introhive of Fredericton and Washington D.C. Build launched earlier this year with $48.5 million in capital, including investments from the Provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island, the Canadian Government, and private investors.
Affinio will soon begin its beta tests for Tactics Cloud and is now accepting applications from small and medium-sized businesses for the free trial. The beta will begin in November and the company expects a full launch in early 2014.
There is one thing about the Affinio team that I want to highlight: its efficiency.
The team of Tim Burke and Stephen Hankinson drew attention in the startup community in 2009, when they launched TetherBerry (now known as Tether), which allowed people to go online on their laptop over their smartphone plan. They got the idea in December 2008 and Hankinson built the product that month. They launched it in March 2009 and had six figures of revenue within three days. Tether won the Innovacorp's I-3 competition a few months later.
Their startup lab 26ones Inc. has spun out other products in the intervening years, both their own initiatives and working with other startups. Hankinson is known for his ability to produce superior technical products quickly. People in Big Data often talk about the rare set of skills needed to produce data analytics tools, but Hankinson turned out Affinio and Tactics Cloud in less than a year.
He and Burke were able to build the product, land funding, take the company to Boston and New York and capture an award at Strata, all in 2013.
The other members of the Affinio team are Analyst Ardi Iranmanesh, Developer Phil Renaud, and Designer Brian Jeffcock.