Below is an email that I recently sent out to our entire company. Since a lot of our customers and partners read this blog, this may be interesting for you.
Chapter 1 was the beginning. The company officially was founded in September of 2001. There were a million things to do - create a business model, write a lot of code, land some customers, and build a core team. We made a ton of mistakes but also made some incredibly great decisions, the best of which was to create a value system that focused on the customer. Solving all of a customer's billing problems, framing all questions around “What would the customer want?” We were small, our processes were ad hoc, and communication was easy, you just hollered out in the office.
Chapter 2 began in October 2006 when we raised our first, and only, round of venture capital. Stuff that worked in chapter 1 wasn’t going to work in chapter 2. We needed more processes, more discipline, and more automation. We rounded out the executive team, opened new processing facilities, released new versions of our products, and started landing showcase clients like Kraft Foods. These were some great accomplishments that we are proud of. But this chapter is now over.
Chapter 3 officially began on September 1, 2011. Not because we turned ten, but because we closed our first of what we hope to be many acquisitions. Our organization is growing at an astounding clip, we’re moving to shiny new offices, we’re doing acquisitions, and we’re partnering with some of the largest financial service companies in the world. What worked in Chapter 2 is not going to work in Chapter 3. We need to become more creative about solving problems, we need to find better ways to communicate with each other, we need to be more creative about how we drive sales, build products, and make decisions. We need to stop making silly mistakes that aggravate customers.
This is what all great companies do. They recognize that as they mature, their people and processes need to mature as well.
You’ll be seeing a variety of changes over the next few months. We’ll be doing more company meetings to try and improve communication. We’ll be formulating our values so that new hires can understand better what makes us tick. We’ve hired a VP of Quality to focus companywide on getting things done correctly each and every time.
In each chapter of our evolution, leaders emerge to propel us to the next stage. They’re not appointed. It’s not predetermined. They are people like Sunny D’Souza who has his basement destroyed by a flood but gets on a plane to California because he knows our first acquisition is critically important. They are people like Dan Nies who exceeds his quota in the first half of the year but is still working his ass off because he feels like the previous year was subpar and he wants to make up for it. There are dozens of stories like this. These individual stories make up the fabric of what makes Billtrust great.
I’m not sure which leaders will emerge in Chapter 3. What I do know is we need to improve in just about every area. How do we get customers live faster? How do we improve eAdoption? How do we reduce our cost per envelope?
We need everybody focused and working hard on the mission to be successful. But we also need the next generation of leaders to emerge to solve this new set of problems.
I look forward to the challenges ahead not with fear, but with excitement. After all, We’re Billtrust, we can do anything.
Billtrust Chapter 3 has officially begun and we're pretty excited about it.