Orenda Scaling At IBM Incubator
February 22nd, 2016
The origin of Orenda Software Solutions — Cape Breton’s top entry in the recent I-3 Technology Startup Competition — dates back to the days when Tanya Collier MacDonald was working in public relations for the Sydney Tar Ponds cleanup.
Part of her job was to monitor public perception of the $400-million task of cleaning up the industrial waste left by a century of steel production in the city. She wished she had a tool that could gauge what the public thought of the project.
“I kept thinking, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to be able to measure it, or to illustrate what a public healthy reaction looks like?’” said Collier MacDonald in an interview last week.
The thought stayed with her as she returned to school, completing her masters in communications at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont. And just over a year ago, she launched Orenda as an offshoot of her Sydney-based public relations company, Pure PR.
Orenda is developing a social media analysis technology that analyzes in real-time the overall reputation of an organization, usually a medium to large enterprise. As would be expected, it monitors social media but it also looks at such other sources of opinions as traditional media, comment sections, and blogs. Orenda’s technology can place words in their social or cultural context to filter out the ambiguity in online content and get a more accurate understanding of what people are posting.
The technology applies numerical metrics to emotions, connections and associations with the brand, allowing the corporation to understand in real time its reputation with the general public or specific niches. The system sends alerts to the client when there is an issue that requires attention.
It’s designed to require minimal installation time, and the users do not need a deep background in public relations, social media or statistics.
Orenda is now developing the platform, and has teamed up with one national partner — which Collier MacDonald declined to name — to help to commercialize the product. It is starting to work with three corporate clients.
Between Orenda and Pure PR, Collier MacDonald has a 10-member team, all based in Sydney. She is now raising a round of angel funding with an undisclosed target amount.
Along the way, Orenda has been accepted into some impressive programs. She was the finalist for Cape Breton in Innovacorp’s I-3 competition, winning $100,000 in cash and services. She said the process allowed her to get in front of a range of valuable people in the province and to hone her pitching skills.
Orenda has also been accepted into the IBM Innovation Centre in Toronto, which is helping Collier MacDonald scale the business and work on her sales strategy.
And she says she has found invaluable help from the other members of the growing tech community in Sydney.
“Being part of the growing startup community here has been a great benefit because it’s not like it’s competition,” she said. “It’s more like we’re all cooperating and helping each other.”