Growth Lab alum Kelly McDonald on her startup’s acquisition

January 4, 2022 8:28 am
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Our plans for 2022 are fully underway, and as we look ahead we’re reminded of all that our founders accomplished in the last year alone. 

One of those entrepreneurs is no stranger to the StartOut world. Last October, Kelly McDonald’s (she/her) startup, Kyndoo, was acquired by CIPIO.ai and Kelly transitioned to a new role as their CPO. This tremendous success is a testament to Kelly and her team’s hard work, innovative mindset, and commitment to growth.

Kyndoo, an influencer marketing startup, first emerged in July of 2018.

“Before Kyndoo, I was working at a real estate investment platform and communicating with affiliates for quite some time. The natural next step for us was influencer marketing which made me wonder how we were vetting the right influencers – and the answer was that we weren’t. I have a background in accredited investor data and realized that this was first and foremost an unstructured data problem. I gave my notice to my company and three months later we launched our platform.”

By the end of that October, Kyndoo earned their first revenue.

Throughout the early months of their launch, Kelly searched for ways to grow her business development knowledge. Through a program for female founders, a mentor recommended Kelly join StartOut so that she could connect with a community of LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs. She applied for the Growth Lab’s 4th Cohort and began the program in January of 2019.

“I went to a StartOut networking event and felt like it was the first of its kind to provide actionable and relatable information. I knew I was looking to gain mentorship and some capital connections, so I went home and filled out an application that night.”

After graduation, Kelly continued to learn from other accelerator programs and grew Kyndoo with her co-founder, Jin. As an advisor and later the CTO at CIPIO.ai, Jin had in-depth knowledge of both platforms, and when Kyndoo started building a whitelabel tool for them this past summer, a perfect match became apparent. 

CIPIO.ai acquired Kyndoo and brought Kelly and her entire team in to become the influencer marketing “decacorn” that her, Sundeep Sanghavi, CIPIO’s CEO, and Growson Edwards, the COO, envisioned together. 

“The combined team is a powerhouse. CIPIO.ai enables brands to uncover, engage, and activate their powerful raving fans in their own community to increase sales, retention, and engagement. Leading brands like World’s Gym, Xponential, Biovanta, Darkhorse Rowing and many more have seen a dramatic increase in the Brand Awareness and growth with their leads, sales, and customer retention using CIPIO. I’m really excited for what’s in store for 2022.”

We couldn’t be more proud of Kelly and her team for this outstanding milestone. Today, Kelly continues her involvement with StartOut as a member of the programming board spearheading events to help up-and-coming LGBTQ+ founders navigate their own paths. We’re so grateful for her support and commitment to the entire community.

You can follow Kelly on LinkedIn for the latest updates on her work with CIPIO.ai. Follow our blog on Medium for more founder stories!