Velocity Startup PiinPoint Announces Y Combinator Backing

PiinPoint has received funding from Y Combinator after becoming the seventh Waterloo Region startup to complete the prestigious California-based accelerator program.

On top of gaining YC backing, PiinPoint raised angel funding from Waterloo Region’s Mike Stork and from Daniel Debow of Toronto, who co-founded Rypple and Workbrain before becoming an SVP at Salesforce. Other investors include Garage Capital, YCVC and the Rotman Creative Destruction Lab in Toronto. TechCrunch reports a total of $250,000 raised

PiinPoint’s software, which has been likened to “Google Analytics for physical locations,” taps into big data to help retailers decide where to locate and expand their businesses.

The company joins the ranks of Pebble, Vidyard, BufferBox, Thalmic Labs, Reebee and Pair (now known as Couple), as Waterloo Region YC alumni, all of which came out of the University of Waterloo’s Velocity program. In fact, its completion of the accelerator’s 2014 winter cohort extends the streak of local companies to pass through YC since Pebble became the first in the winter of 2011.

“It’s great to see such amazing talent coming out of the University of Waterloo and competing with some of the world’s best at Y Combinator,” said Velocity director Mike Kirkup.”PiinPoint is the latest startup in a line of seven back-to-back Velocity companies to participate in the highly competitive Y Combinator program.” He wished the company good luck at YC’s Demo Day on Tuesday.

Not a bad way for Jim Robeson, PiinPoint’s CEO, to celebrate the first full year of a venture he founded as part of the MBET program at the University of Waterloo. Co-founder Adam Saunders, also a UW student, joined the company last August.

But it’s also not surprising, because PiinPoint hits three criteria that YC co-founder Paul Graham looks for: It solves a real problem; the problem is one the founder(s) have experienced; and is one that no one else is really solving.

“We use big data and machine learning to help franchisors or retailers make faster and better decisions about where to locate,” Robeson says, adding that “we now centralize demographic, municipal, traffic and real estate data.”

PiinPoint’s all-in-one package for location-based decision-making is a leap from traditional methods, which require retailers to gather data, buy software and hire teams of experts to sift through and integrate it.

More importantly, it was Robeson’s own experience with his parents’ business that drove him to find a solution (see our Q+A).

Before it went to YC, PiinPoint received mentorship, funding and resources from Velocity, as well as Communitech’s Startup Services Group and Rotman’s Creative Destruction Lab in Toronto.

“It was from Startup Services to the [Velocity] Garage to the Kitchener-Waterloo ecosystem that has played a huge role in getting into YC,” Robeson said in an interview with Communitech in December.

Having other local companies go before it also laid a foundation for PiinPoint, Robeson said, adding that he received help from his fellow YC grads.

“Because of talent and so many other factors that are important to us,” Robeson said, PiinPoint plans to take a similar approach to Pebble and send its tech team back to Waterloo Region, while basing its sales team in the U.S.

PiinPoint’s tech team will return to Waterloo Region in May.

This article was originally published on Communitech.