Case Study.

From VCA (Value Creation Assessment) to Exit, a Fintech Firm Reenvisions Their Go-to-Market Strategy

This financial technology company puts easy-to-use risk management and portfolio analysis tools into the hands of professional investors. Although it had 30,000 customers, its current organizational structure, strategy and growth trajectory were stagnant or declining and threatened to diminish its valuation. 

The Problem

A fintech firm initially brought in Orchid Black to evaluate a potential transaction and to perform a Value Creation Assessment (VCA) with the goal of identifying areas of opportunity and provide an estimated valuation in the marketplace. 

After performing the VCA, which included reviewing company data, conducting market research, and holding internal and external interviews with stakeholders, Orchid Black quickly identified massive opportunities for growth, but certain factors were inhibiting the organization’s ability to grow.

Key factors included: 

  • Drastic misalignment between the board, investors, CEO and the management team led to an uneven vision, strategy and general roadmap.
  • The goals, metrics and KPIs that the staff was held accountable for did not drive the strategic plan; in part due to inconsistencies in the plan as well as insufficient operational knowledge. 
  • General operational knowledge and processes were insufficient. Despite good content, tech and a go-to-market engine, their system didn’t create a clear hand-off from sales to operations and delivery.
  • Too many key staff held unique organizational knowledge. If key staff left, the company could not recover. 
  • Product pricing strategy was based on a non-recurring revenue subscription, which boosted short-term gains, but lacked long-term sustainability.
  • No clear understanding of who all customers were, what they wanted and how they used their products, as well as a lack of strategy around building customer success. 
Background

This financial technology company offered products that gave customers more confidence in investing, specifically by helping them identify new opportunities, limit their risk in the market, and significantly increase performance. By using a portfolio approach (very much like a financial manager) rather than offering individual investment support, they helped customers beat the stock market. While this company did have some valuable points of differentiation, the larger fintech market is hyper fragmented. 

This organization was a classic case where good work had been done building the company, but it had reached a point where growth was stagnating. Once the VCA was complete, the team quickly identified that the company had several strong opportunities and put together a strategic plan with the following options:

  1. Take advantage of their presence in the consumer market, as a B2B2C (through an intermediary) to gain access to new consumers, and market toward brokerage platforms, then partner with them to scale the business.
  1. Change the go-to-market strategy to function as a  B2B, focus on advisors and wealth management professionals to offer them a new, innovative way to invest their clients funds in individual stocks in a risk-adjusted manner.
  1. Exit to a strategic investor as part of a roll-up strategy or as an acquisition as a trade sale to a strategic buyer in the fintech space. 


The VCA also revealed the organization was at a $23 million maximum valuation, a dramatically different price than they had hoped. Additionally, many organizational fundamentals would need to be leveraged, both strategically and operationally, in order to increase the value of the company. 

Given the VCA analysis, two clear opportunities presented themselves. The company could choose to focus on long-term growth, which would include a significant capital raise, or tap into Orchid Black’s powerful value creation levers to increase the value of the business in the short term and then exit. 

Orchid Black and the fintech company ultimately chose to increase the value of the business through a series of focused go-to-market strategies in a very short period of time and exit to a buyer.

The Partnership

Orchid Black’s proven and repeated success in architecting and implementing growth strategies was a perfect fit for this fintech company. They were ripe for someone to come in, identify quick value creation opportunities, then build solutions to accelerate organic growth and lead to an effective exit. 

The Orchid Black team included four different operators with profound subject matter experience in the areas of exit and investment strategy, leadership, operations, sales and go-to-market strategy.

Once the decision was made to partner with Orchid Black to accelerate growth, the team was able to draw on its deep experience with data-driven processes and methodologies, driving an integrated and comprehensive strategy that made a major impact on the company, and ultimately increased the valuation of the business decisively in just seven months.

In the growth services process, the big aha moments come at the end of the Value Creation Assessment (VCA) when the team uncovers growth opportunities.

There were two aha moments. The first was around pricing strategy. The company learned the product pricing they were using—lifetime subscriptions—were far less valuable than implementing a recurring revenue strategy, such as monthly or yearly subscriptions. 

The second aha moment was around customer segmentation. During the analysis, the team was able to identify that many of the fintech firm’s customers were actually wealth management professionals and other folks who were more B2B focused. 

The pains/gains of professionals are very different than individual investors. If the company had known who their customers actually were, they could have leveraged this valuable information to create a more effective pricing strategy, as well as tailor their offerings to meet their customers’ needs. 

These aha moments led this fintech company to realize that customer success is not just about customer support and answering technical questions, it’s about understanding your customers deeply, knowing who they are and what makes them tick. Once that knowledge is firmly in pocket, they could develop greater customer intimacy and create opportunities that added value to the customer experience—and ultimately increase wallet share. 

The Solution

“This was an incredible company that had come to a crossroads and needed to make an informed decision about which route to take. Our approach was to use data analytics from the VCA and leverage the strength of our team to clearly define the opportunities available. Once a decision was made, we formed a strong partnership to execute on a growth plan that would give the founder the exit he desired (and earned).”

- Jim Barnish, Managing Partner, Orchid Black


The VCA uncovered fundamental value creation opportunities such as revenue enhancement and exit optionality. The revised go-to-market strategy and accompanying investment and exit strategy was executed with Orchid Black partnering side-by-side with the company to accomplish the following: 

  • Strategically aligned the organization to a shared vision and strategy with consistent goals and metrics across the entire organizational structure. 
  • Drove organizational alignment, with advanced expertise to professionalize the team and up-level their operations.
  • Converted current one-time subscription revenue into recurring revenue streams, either through monthly or annual recurring subscriptions. 
  • Created process documentation and operational procedures to optimize and streamline efficiency across the company.
  • Developed lead job descriptions and internal frameworks so they could replace any key staff member without risking an organizational breakdown.
  • Readied the financials for exit, including all historicals, forecasts and pricing models. 
  • Improved customer knowledge by adding research and analysis to create value to customer interactions.
The Results

Through the execution of a seven-month growth services engagement, the company and Orchid Black executed on a new go-to-market strategy that realized an ROI of more than four thousand percent.

They were able to sell off a legacy business unit—to the same strategic investor that offered to buy the company previously—at a vastly increased $36 million valuation (from a previous $23.1 million). The founder also retained the core IP.  

Upon successful exit, OB coordinated with our finance concierge partners to ensure the client optimized every dollar acquired on the sale of their business. This included immediate tax reduction, long-term tax reduction, establishing passive income streams, and complete estate protection on items being passed onto respective heirs. This all-inclusive approach brought additional avenues for the client to optimize their wealth while ensuring necessary protection to sustain their success.

Due to the incredible financial success of this engagement with Orchid Black, the founder is well-positioned and has embarked on his next project—with Orchid Black as his partner. 

Our boutique team's deep experience in architecting and implementing growth strategies toward value optimization propelled this company toward a highly successful exit. Our Value Creation Platform was developed specifically to provide the tools and knowledge to accelerate value. 

Testimonial

"Orchid Black was able to come up with phenomenal insights in a matter of weeks just by analyzing the data that was already within our own company. That alone was worth every penny of the VCA (Value Creation Assessment)." 

-CEO & Founder, fintech company


This project embodies the archetype of an organization built by a brilliant, visionary founder who has a good product, then builds a successful company as large as he possibly can. However, like most great founders, he eventually hit a wall and needed to bring on a growth partner to make a decision on where to go next. The Orchid Black team was the perfect complement to help take this company to the next level, increase the value of the business, and exit quickly.
––Jim Barnish, Managing Partner, Orchid Black