MONCTON – The co-founders of Porpoise will be flying back and forth to New York until the end of August. The Moncton company, which offers employee engagement platforms, is the only North American company in this cohort of startup accelerator NUMA.
Porpoise’s platform and app allow employees to report and tell stories about how they’re driving change and taking part in various social responsibility initiatives, among other things. Companies can then use the data to generate social media content and reports.
“It’s a huge amount of validation for us [to get selected], especially with the U.S. market,” said CEO Topher Kingsley-Williams. “We’re seeing really good traction across Canada and in parts of Europe. Our largest client is actually a French company. But our closest big market really is the U.S.”
NUMA is a French accelerator with a global presence that helps startups enter new markets. In this cohort of six companies, Porpoise joins businesses from Japan to India. Programming for the companies began June 4 and will last 10 weeks. However, the accelerator’s process is about three months.
Kingsley-Williams said the accelerator will help Porpoise get more access to clients and investors as it seeks a stronger presence in the U.S and Europe. Currently around half of its revenue still comes from within Canada.
“My number one goal is to expand our client base in New York, and my secondary goal is to expand our investor network for our next round of fundraising,” he said.
The company of 11 people is currently in a seed round and is planning for a Series A financing in the future. Kingsley-Williams hopes to have satellite offices in major centres where Porpoise is already selling its product.
“With the nature of our product, it’s very helpful to have people on the ground meeting with clients face to face, so that’s definitely part of the roadmap,” he said. “We’re just starting to tap into [Europe], and North America represents a large market for us as well.”
Porpoise took part in Montreal accelerator FounderFuel last year. Since then, the company has focused on growing revenue and sales. It has also expanded its offering from a focus on volunteerism to various initiatives that companies have within and outside their business.
“It’s really about letting employees participate within their corporate culture through corporate social responsibility and other programs,” he said. “Brands are no longer defined just by the products they produce, but by the service they deliver and the people that work for them.”
Kingsley-Williams said employees want their personal values to align with those of the company they work for. For their part, companies want to ensure their employees have a good work experience and are engaged in their work.
“What we’re seeing is businesses are shifting from a one charity model to a model where they say ‘we want to support all the good things that our people are doing, and we need to create programs and ways to capture all of that,'” he said. “That’s where our product comes in.”
As Porpoise moves forward, Kingsley-Williams was quick to note the support of partners and investors in the Maritimes.
“It’s fantastic to have support from all of our stakeholders that truly understand that in order to grow a business sometimes you have to get out of the area to bring things back,” he said.
“We may be opening up an office in New York. But if we do that, it’s with the intention of growing a company out of Atlantic Canada. We want to build a really big business.”