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Nova Scotia startups hitting big leagues after pitching Microsoft

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- June 13, 2016

To appreciate how successfully some Atlantic Canadian startups are scaling, call up Youtube and do two searches — one for “Kinduct” and one for “Affinio Seattle.”

You’ll find recent pitches by two Halifax companies as they completed West Coast accelerators.

Travis McDonough, CEO of medical-data provider Kinduct, delivered his pitch in November at the Dodgers Accelerator in Los Angeles. And Tim Burke, who heads the data analytics company Affinio, pitched this month at Microsoft’s Seattle Accelerator. These pitches demonstrate conclusively how successfully these companies are growing, or scaling.

Scaling is the subject of the latest Entrevestor Intelligence report, which is being published Tuesday. Our quarterly printed report (which you can find at highlights the economic importance and success of scaling startups. One company it profiles is Affinio.

We interviewed Burke for our supplement last month, at which time the company employed 37 people. By the time he delivered the pitch in Seattle, the staff had grown to 40. He expects 60 people on the Affinio payroll by year-end.

The company has developed algorithms that allow large companies to group their social media followers into clusters and gain a deep understanding of the interests and linkages of those clusters.

As part of its pitch, Burke said Affinio analyzed 350,000 social media followers of Microsoft and studied what they are passionate about. It then aggregated that into a dataset of more than 700 million connections.

“In just a matter of minutes, our algorithm was able to segment that audience into 12 unique clusters, based on the similarities of their interests,” said Burke. Affinio can instantly dissect the interests of those groups, from the music they like to the video games they play.

It means someone at Microsoft tasked with building the tech giant’s gaming community can understand instantly what the community likes and how they relate to one another.

He added the global consultancy Gartner named Affinio one of the “cool vendors” in data-driven marketing in 2016.

McDonough, meanwhile, told the audience at the Dodgers Accelerator that Kinduct has built “the world’s most advanced human performance software platform.” That means the company can pull together disparate data on athletics and health and present them on one platform. The company has the world’s largest library of medical animation, which is essential in telling athletes what problem they’re experiencing and how to cure it.

In November, there were more than 50 pro teams and NCAA organizations using the platform, said McDonough.

“We are also very proud of the fact that we have multiple world champions using our platform to get results and each and every organization that used our platform last year saw a statistically significant improvement in winning percentage and a drastic reduction in preventable injuries,” he added.

Two points to drive home: first, Kinduct and Affinio weren’t pitching at a local hackathon — they were presenting to blue chip audiences on the U.S. West Coast. And second, they are exemplars of the scaling companies in Atlantic Canada but they are not alone. There is a solid core of growth companies that are gaining international attention.