Meet an incubator graduate who's bullish on the potential for tech startups in St. John's

November 29, 2020

Isaac Adejuwon stands in his company's new office space in downtown St. John's. (Adam Walsh/CBC)

Isaac Adejuwon wants to live in a world with no cookies — but think of the internet, not chocolate or crumbs.

If Adejuwon gets his wish, his St. John's tech company, MetricsFlow, will become a smashing success, following in the footsteps of other tech innovators in Newfoundland and Labrador that were launched by an incubator behind the success of companies like Verafin.

"Welcome to the startup world," said Adejuwon as he gave a tour of his company's new office space on Water Street in the city's downtown.

Adejuwon calls the space a work in progress because — like his company — much of it has yet to be built. And, like his company, he has big plans.

"We're bringing down some walls here. So right now it's not connected to the other office," said the company founder and CEO as he laid out his vision for an office that he hopes will be filled with employees in the not-too-distant future.

MetricsFlow was one of six companies to graduate this fall from Enterprise, the flagship program at Memorial University's Genesis business incubator.

Previous graduates include Rutter, Mysa and — notably — Verafin, the company that makes fraud detection software and which global technology giant Nasdaq bought for a whopping $2.75 billion US.

The Enterprise program is designed to help technology startups grow their business by giving companies access to a range of resources, mentorship and funding.

"We were very fortunate to get into the Genesis Centre," said Adejuwon. "The big benefit for us was that we had the support to grow MetricsFlow."

Adejuwon poses for a graduation day photo. His company, MetricsFlow, was one of six companies to graduate this fall from Enterprise, the flagship program at Memorial University’s business incubator, Genesis. (Adam Walsh/CBC )

The company is developing technology to replace web cookies, tiny digital files that track online use. Web publishers rely on them for data, but they have long annoyed privacy advocates.

"With our technology, we focus more on privacy-first practices and we're creating a way that enterprise companies would no longer need to use cookies for tracking. In the future we see a cookie-less world," he said.

Adejuwon's interest in data started with a flash drive when he was a child in Nigeria.

"We didn't really have electricity, internet or computers at home, but we had just very basic gadgets,' he said.

Adejuwon said his dad gave him a flash drive that was his gateway to learning about technology.

"In that specific context, I was able to use data," said Adejuwon, who became fascinated with technology. When he moved to Canada to study engineering at Memorial University, his curiosity grew even more.

Growth plans adjusted during pandemic

The growing interest has now evolved into a growing company. MetricsFlow is already working with companies in Canada, the U.S. and Japan.

With some recently secured financing, said Adejuwon, the company is ramping up research and development to prepare for the next steps.

"The focus for us right now is building our team and making sure that we take the products to market," he said.

Right now, MetricsFLow employs eight people. The pre-COVID plan was to be at 12 this year and 28 next year, but Adejuwon said the pandemic has delayed the hiring timeline.

Nonetheless, he's optimistic about his company's future in St. John's.

"I think there's a huge potential for high tech companies here — grow local, sell global," he said.

"I think Verafin sends a clear message to us all about what is possible and that we can build amazing technology companies that solve global problems from here in St. John's."

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