From bartender to 500 Startups, Bliinx founder plans on disrupting client management

When 500 Startups announced the 29 companies accepted into Batch 26 of its seed program, just five Canadian companies made the list. And among those five companies, only one comes from Montreal. Bliinx Montreal.

That company is Bliinx. It offers a way to find information on business relationships by aggregating all interactions with contacts into Office 365.

Bliinx’s founder is Frederic Melanson, a McGill University graduate. He told MTLinTECH that his journey to founding his startup began when he simply listened to people. He was a bartender at the time studying business, and he knew he needed two things: capital and connections. 

Mixing drinks and banking lessons

Melanson worked his way through university at a high-end restaurant in downtown Montreal called Jatoba.

“That’s where executives go and eat. So instead of going to drink beer and hang out, all I did for four years was build relationships with business people while I was bartending,” he said.

That’s how Bliinx got its first contract (without much to show for a product at the time) and even its first angel round.

“I would ask them, how do you manage your contacts? How do you manage your business dev, your clients and your contact information. Eventually we’d always get to the subject of their CRM in the conversation and they all would tell me they hated it. I figured there must be something there.”

In a nutshell, Bliinx helps non-sales professionals build more productive business relationships. The platform aggregates all of your business interactions into one relationship timeline that can be imported into your inbox, calendar or phone. Instead of searching all over the place for emails, notes, etc, you can simply have it in one place.

Bliinx Montreal

Bliinx Montreal

“You can always nail your business interactions with our tool, without jumping through a bunch of fragmented channels,” said Melanson.

The first client that Bliinx signed this month ultimately invested in the startup as well. “It’s a great validation point that there’s actually a huge pain in the market,” said Melanson.

Now Bliinx will look to fundraise this summer for more of a venture capital round.

The road to 500 Startups

Melanson and his cofounder got the news that they had been accepted into 500 Startups in late October. He had a week to get to San Francisco within a week because the program started on November 4.

Melanson said the program has already been a “game changer” for his company. As he looks to properly iterate his product. He said the mentors at the program are pushing him to focus on the right things.

Bliinx even pivoted during the program from a standalone app to an Office 365 extension.

“We’re one of the earliest companies that they’ve accepted and we almost started from zero when we started,” said the founder.

The program’s Demo Day comes on March 15 in Silicon Valley where Melanson and his fellow cofounders will pitch to a crowd of roughly 600.

The 500 Seed Accelerator, in conjunction with Montreal’s Panache Ventures, provides $150,000 USD in funding in exchange for six percent equity. Bliinx gets access to 500 Startups’ Silicon Valley network and support with funding strategy. Specifically, participants will have access to mentors and experts on topics such as distribution, product design, data, fundraising, and more.

According to 500 Startups, 37 percent of companies in this most recent cohort are from outside of North America, from countries including Brazil, Nigeria, and India.

500 Startups launched 500 Canada in 2016, which included a $30 million CAD fund focused on businesses that can achieve profitability with less than $1 million in total investment. The fund closed $15 million in January 2017. It later closed amid founder Dave McClure’s alleged misconduct and eventual resignation.

Neha Khera currently leads the accelerator’s Canadian presence.

Bliinx Montreal | Bliinx Montreal

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