Challenge: Taking the world by storm with new software and new thinking
Solution: Taking growth one customer at a time, one country at a time
Tim Burke and Stephen Hankinson have built their company on one irrefutable reality: there is power in numbers.
The two entrepreneurs launched Affinio in 2012 following a simple test they were running on a mobile app. “We looked at who else [people] were following and aggregated that affinity-based information. We could see what people were interested in,” says Tim, the company’s Chief Executive Officer.
That combined information is powerful, he adds. “This is very important when it comes to advertising and marketing as well as in other sectors such as insurance.”
The Halifax-based IT company uses artificial intelligence to identify connections in data and better understand consumer behaviour.
Its advanced analytical engine sifts through billions of social media data points, together with company-supplied information, to identify audiences with similar interests and behaviours. “The technology quickly aggregates and identifies common themes and people with similar interests,” explains Tim.
The technology, which protects individual privacy, is unique, he adds. “Our engine is fully automated. We unlock discoveries in the white space no one else has identified.”
Traditionally in this sector companies would use a customized process to extract relevant data for clients. Affinio simplifies this process, notes Tim. “Our system is turnkey. Clients don’t need an IT degree or access to data. We are a frontend framework.”
Since their eureka! moment nearly six years ago, Affinio’s owners have made immeasurable changes – everything from direction to pricing – but the foundational thinking on which the company was based remains firm. “Our business model has pivoted over the years, but our core idea has never varied,” says Tim.
Growth, he adds, came steadily. Affinio started with small companies and gradually drew the attention of major advertisers and media companies including WarnerMedia. Today, the tech firm has 65 employees and over 100 companies worldwide who are customers, the majority of which are in the U.S. and the U.K. “It’s all about momentum, but it’s damn hard,” says Tim.
He recommends entrepreneurs embrace what works – and what doesn’t. “Success comes with a lot of failures. You learn from each of those experiences.”
Accessing financial capital is something the Government of Canada recognizes as critical to building, growing and scaling a business. With support from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), the government is helping Affinio commercialize its product and reach new markets. Recent investments totalling $925,000 are going towards research and development, marketing initiatives, and incremental data security ISO certifications.
Affinio is a prime example of how innovation and resourcefulness fuel Atlantic Canada’s economy, at home and beyond.
Do you have a business concept? Do you have an innovative idea to improve or grow your business? For more information on programs and services available to businesses in Atlantic Canada call 1-800-561-7862 or go to canada.ca/acoa.