Toronto-based marketing software maker Influitive announced today that it has acquired mobile app startup Ironark Software, the company behind home and family organizer Hub and business task and schedule manager Workbase; and that, thanks to a mix of new partners including the government-owned Export Development Canada and VC firm Leaders Fund, and increased funding from existing investors, it has raised an additional $8.2 million in capital.

In a statement, Ironark cofounder Jonathan James said that his team was thrilled to be joining Influitive: the company’s founders and lead developer will be added to their new parent company’s product division, where they are expected to contribute their expertise to Influitive’s mobile efforts.

Influitive founder and CEO Mark Organ told ITBusiness.ca that he was inspired to add Ironark’s founders and lead developer to Influitive’s ranks because of the company’s skill at community building, a cornerstone of Influitive’s “advocate community” approach to marketing.

“We’re really investing a lot into our community features… and a big part of that future is making a move from advocate programs, which is the market that we were in last year, to advocate communities, which are persistent and always on,” he said. “And [Ironark’s] people are really skilled at that.”

Influitive CEO Mark Organ
Influitive CEO Mark Organ

Ironark is actually one of several acquisitions that Influitive is planning, Organ said, since in addition to being a source of high-quality talent they allow the company to build a culture that can more easily integrate new teams and technology into its daily operations.

“It’s not easy to acquire companies and make sure that we keep all the people and integrate the technology,” he said. “We’ve got to build those muscles here.”

He also noted that with few companies in Toronto aggressively acquiring startups, he has an embarrassment of riches to choose from.

“I’d say every week we get at least one company looking for an exit from us,” Organ said. “They’re growing out of their space, they’re hitting a wall, and they’re looking for a soft landing.”

As for the additional funding, many of Influitive’s existing investors simply increased the size of their investment, a welcome indication of their faith in the company and its trajectory, Organ said.

“The fundraising environment is not quite as big as it was last year, so we want to make sure that we’re able to reach our goals,” he said.

While the company has not yet turned a profit – a fact that Organ says is on track to change by next year – Influitive’s signature B2B marketing software, AdvocateHub, has helped the marketing departments of numerous companies, including HootSuite, HP, Dell, Forrester, and LinkedIn, build “advocate communities” that provide members with recognition and status in exchange for activities that help promote their brand’s interests and reputation.

And with its additional investors, Influitive’s shareholder base has increased to more than 100 – a number the company’s leaders are quite pleased with, Organ said.

“It means that, for example, if I happen to be travelling in Australia or London and I’m looking to meet with prospective customers, we have people who can introduce us,” he said. “I think startups actually do very well by having more people in the tent – there are more people talking about you, more people who can help.”

Leaders Fund cofounder David Stein told ITBusiness.ca that he believes advocate marketing as a category remains in its infancy, and that as Influitive grows it is not only defining a new sector, but will come to lead it.

“Their software is delivering valuable results for their customers, leading to rapid growth in their client base and their revenues,” Stein said. “We believe that to generate great investment returns, you need to invest early in future category leaders.”

This latest funding announcement brings the total amount raised by Influitive since it was founded in 2010 to approximately $50 million.

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