When Jason Quinn landed in Europe back in 2008, he was the youngest of five American finance executives being deployed by digital disrupter SMB printer Vistaprint of Boston, Mass.
For the next 5 years, Quinn would be involved in a string of business acquisitions that would grow the digital printer’s European revenues from nothing to more than $500 million annually.
Based in Barcelona, Quinn spent roughly 3 weeks of every month traveling to other parts of Europe to evaluate the operations of different businesses as he and other executives sought to determine whether there was a solid business case for acquiring a company.Read More
“I had the luxury of seeing into firms at both the executive and middle management levels, so I was able to acquire an understanding of how the executive team was operating and how the decisions that they would make would trickle down within the operation,” explains Quinn, who adds that as deal activity grew, Vistaprint ended up deploying a corporate development team from Paris to complete some of the initial due diligence.
As the number of acquisition candidates grew, Quinn was tasked with taking a deeper dive into a target company’s operations, so he would often spend a number of days with company’s leadership team in order to better assess whether there could be a cultural fit.
“’Can this be one plus one equals three?’ would usually be the question that you were trying to answer,” continues Quinn, who points out that the answer to this hypothetical query was also dependent on whether his team believed that the acquisition candidate would succeed post-merger under a flat management model.
“We believed that flatter was better and that this was really an efficient way to grow,” comments Quinn, who notes that along the way he acquired a deeper understanding of manufacturing logistics as well as the pre- and post-sale dynamics of go-to-market strategies for both B2B and B2C companies.
However, his central role would always center on supplying the answer to the question of whether there was a strong business case for advancing a potential deal.
“When they brought something to the table through the pipeline, I would vet the business case first from our ability to execute it and then from a cultural perspective,” recalls Quinn, who stresses the significance of understanding and respecting cultural norms as well as local competitors.
Says Quinn: “If you’re going to go international, you must go all in and be prepared to make the investments to win in local markets because you’ll be facing local competition within their own primary market.” –Jack Sweeney
Made Possible By
CFOTL: Tell us about Vendr … what type of company is this, and what does it do?
Quinn: We are concerned with functions that are at the core of mission-critical companies, with disrupting how things are in the norms that you see today, and with enabling changes for the better. What Vendr is trying to do is to fix sales, and particularly software sales. Sales is where we’re starting. Today, you as a consumer can go buy a house—the major purchase in your life—faster than a company can buy the right software to fit its needs. Vendr wants to bring transparency to this overall market for procurement professionals, for the users or requesters of the spend who want to acquire the software, and for the sellers, too. We want to enable full transparency with regard to what’s going on, what software works, and what doesn’t work. We especially would like to help buyers of software—particularly procurement—to find, buy, and manage their technology stack.Read More
I was a two-time customer of Vendr after they first started up as a negotiation-as-a-service firm. They would sort of say, “What kind of software would you like to buy?,” and then they would go off and try to find it. They understood that by working with suppliers over and over and over again, they would better understand how these suppliers worked. They became able to navigate these suppliers very quickly through their sales cycle, to help buyers navigate their own procurement cycle, and to speed up the whole cycle time—while also reducing the price. So, you were saving time and you were saving money.
I think that one of the brilliant things that Vendr did—which was very innovative, because most things that you buy don’t have a straight ROI—was to offer a guaranteed savings. If you didn’t achieve the guaranteed savings by using their service, they would give you your money back. By the way, out of the hundreds and hundreds of companies that we have served since I’ve been here, only five have requested their investment back.
When I first got here, collecting data was all done manually as a managed service. Our next phase began when our CEO, Ryan Neu, worked with us to go out and buy Blissfully, which is an SAP management platform that allows you to see all of the software within your company. This became a core piece of our platform and product, as now we can combine—and look at—all of our related data, knowledge, and expertise, as well as that of our SaaS consultants and procurement professionals.
So, now we have a platform, we have data, and we have expertise. This all provides for a much more scalable way to help companies—and particularly their procurement teams—to get strategic. They can automate their processes—in a platform to which users actually want to contribute—to find, buy, and manage their software. They’re able to have transparency into pricing, into commercial terms, and into what other people in the community are doing and getting. This enables them not only to feel a lot more comfortable in moving forward but also to move forward relatively quickly.
The last piece is that buyers can do this all on their own with Vendr, or they can call us and do it with help. This aspect has been pretty powerful because it makes them the hero, not some outside software or managed service.
Vendr | www.vendr.com | Boston, MA