What led you and Lisa Beaudoin to found your company, what were you trying to create?
We wanted to give back in a genuine way. We are a mission-focused company, which has had the additional benefit of helping us to attract exceptional people to our team. We perform a high quality service and build a great product. There was a big opportunity to build a publishing platform that would allow people to create enterprise apps faster and to be able to change them after they were built. In publishing, once you build a site it’s hard to update the model and change it. We have been able to deliver a high quality service for changing enterprise publishing sites as fast as they can be built.
Can you explain exactly what your company does and what problem it solves?
Perfect Sense allows major corporations to publish content and to deliver it to the right person, on right device, at the right place and time. The technology is designed to allow you to publish direct or third-party content globally. By knowing our customers’ targets and what devices to reach them on at all times, we ensure that they can pick up on one device where they left-off with another, whether it is a website, mobile device or television. This takes the burden off the consumer and ensures seamless, consistent access to content irrespective of where they are, or which device they are using.
Can you explain how your company has evolved since you started it in 2008?
When we entered this space, there were 800 companies creating digital publishing platforms. Some businesses would shy away from such a crowded marketplace. Our view was that if there were 800 companies, with no clear leaders, there was an opportunity to build something better.
We weren’t in a hurry. Our goal was to steadily build the business and do a great job. For us it wasn’t about how to get out of the business but how to get into the business. So we took our time and focused on doing things right. As our private equity partner discovered during their research, we have a reputation among our customers for doing an exceptional job, which is truly unique and a clear differentiator in the market.
There are still numerous companies in the space, but only three we bump into on a regular basis.
Tell us about your decision to bring in an equity partner.
Like many companies trying to grow, we realized that we could benefit from additional money and experience. Even though we have a very good reputation, we weren’t doing sales and marketing as well as we would have liked. It’s very hard to build a great sales team. It requires real talent to do it in a major way. We tried to do it without funding, but that doesn’t leave room for mistakes. In marketing you have to be prepared to do more wrong than right to eventually arrive at the right approach and message.
We needed to sell outside our network. We had reached the point where we knew we could win, but a lot of work goes into winning. We could see the finish line but without all the tools to get there, we couldn’t make the right inroads. We ultimately realized that if we didn’t go for it and bring in a partner, we’d be squandering an opportunity to be the top player in the market.
In what areas of the business did you feel you could use help or counsel?
Finance, marketing and sales. We were used to self-financing and were focused on profitability. Now we are able to sit down with our private equity partner to talk about where we are going to invest, and to hear their experience about what issues will come up and where we will need help. Having people with patience and expertise, who have faith in your company and know what it takes to build a company for the long haul, is an incredible asset.
What are the benefits of working with a group like Carrick Capital Partners / what has been the biggest change to the company as a result of working with a private equity partner?
The culture hasn’t changed, but it is really nice to be able to call and talk to someone with an objective view who cares about the company. Having the investment and hiring a CFO who is knowledgeable and capable has been a big advantage. The experience has helped to concentrate everyone’s energy around winning with a product and having the assurance that we have the capital to do that. Since we began working together, the energy has been extremely positive all around, from the board to all of our employees.
What were you looking for in a private equity partner?
I was looking for the right people, and I liked Carrick and their approach. Money is money, so finding a private equity partner that would be a fit with our company’s culture and character was my main focus. I kept coming back to the fact that I trust them and like their approach.
What’s your advice for other growing businesses considering private equity?
Know where you want to go. If you don’t, don’t raise the money. Pick the right partner based on whether they are people you can work with for the long haul, and stay as focused as you can on your business. No matter who you pick, the process requires a lot of work, so get your transaction done and stay focused on getting back to the objective of growing your business.
What are you most excited about at Perfect Sense and what’s next?
We are most excited about the opportunity to be the top player in the market. We know what product will get us there, and we know we can build it. Now we have to execute and we are well on the way with new platform development. We are already seeing new value being delivered to our clients. We had our first major launch with our new platform, so it’s a very exciting and promising time. I believe this will completely change the landscape, so I’m 100% focused on getting it done.