In our latest Altus Conversation, we focus on how companies can get smaller to get big.  Finding a single market focus is often how great companies start to accelerate their growth.  Others explore various industries but have the discipline to narrow focus to one.  For Life Couriers they found a hot segment with growth and pain where they could dominate.  Doug Schulze, co-founder of Altus Alliance talked with the driver of that strategy, CCO, Matt Silverberg who discovered the hot market of Life Sciences & Pharmacogenomics needed better courier services.

Altus Conversation with Matt Silverberg 

Doug: When did you realize you needed to change up your sales and marketing plan and find some outside help?
Matt: The primary catalyst for our GTM change and reaching out to Altus was success in our acquisition strategy.  We had the support of PE firm, Auctus Capital to roll up other logistics firms.  After the 1st two our topline revenue went from roughly $33mm in annual revenue to $70mm.  I knew we needed an enterprise sales and marketing process at that point with a focused strategy if we were going to be successful under one unified brand moving forward.

Doug: What were the big change/s that created the momentum shift?
Matt: As a result of the historical growth of Associated Couriers coupled with the two acquisitions, the company in total was servicing several different verticals. We had traction and success in healthcare, e-Commerce, financial, food services and several others.  Operational efficiency and customer acquisition became difficult to scale with too many customer types.  We were focusing on everything and thereby focusing on nothing.
The Altus team highlighted the benefits and counterintuitive thinking around ‘less-is-more,’ and how focusing on a single customer type would dramatically improve both sales and margins. Making that shift and discipline was pivotal for us and very hard to implement company wide. It changed how we approached every aspect of the business. Yet, once in place, that switch, and vertical focus has grown our topline significantly along with our bottom line.  

Doug: Sounds like focus into one vertical was foundational to your GTM strategy but you had success in several verticals, how did you pick?
Matt: All of the markets we served had strong CAGR’s and potential. The research Altus did for us highlighted we were strongest in healthcare and the growth, demand and needs of that vertical were ripe for a focused leader. The market interviews confirmed we could differentiate and win.
We built consensus around life sciences both internally and externally. We changed our tagline from “Getting it Right” to “Logistics for Life” to better represent the future we wanted to create. This was inspiring for our employees and sent a clear message to our target market. We were able to sell to key decision makers that our vision is the same as theirs – a future where logistics plays a critical role in improving patient outcomes.

Doug: Who all did you involve in the process?
Matt: Knowing buy-in across the company and stakeholders was key to success, I made sure to involve all of the members of our executive team and investors throughout the process. At the start, everyone had a POV where to focus so I made sure the decision was data driven and without internal bias. Consultants are great at both.
I knew if I didn’t have complete buy-in, the entire engagement with Altus would be a waste of money and time.  Today, even the naysayers in that group are ecstatic that we made the strategic direction for a singular focus on healthcare.

Doug: Great, now you have your core team onboard, how did you implement the change?
Matt: For the rest of the company, we held monthly all hands-on deck meetings. We explained why we were shifting our focus and what benefits it would bring. Not just for future company growth but for the sense of purpose our employees would receive knowing they were part of improving the health of patients around the world. To this day, we still start with our mission, vision, and values in those with a real-life example of how one of our deliveries helped save a life.

Doug: What was some of the biggest challenges in implementing a focused market strategy
Matt: First and foremost, budgetary constraints. I knew we didn’t have the budget to build the entire recommendation of what this would take on the sales and marketing side. We had to slowly roll it out over several quarters (years even) while we built up the marketing capabilities, Salesforce sophistication, BDRs, and the account management team.
Also, the long lead times of healthcare made the complete shift from our diversified revenue to strategic revenue very challenging. With everyone on board with the strategy we took the revenue dip in 2023 knowing the long game would make it worth it. And sure enough, the strategic is delivering on all the synergy and momentum we had hoped for.

Doug: How about anything that was surprisingly easy?
Matt: Nothing comes to mind that was surprisingly easy. The entire process was quite challenging to get to the end state that we are in today.

Doug: Did you ever question your decision?
Matt: Absolutely! I feel like you aren’t a good CEO if you aren’t constantly questioning your decisions. For instance, when the pandemic hit our e-Commerce business saved us. I was worried we wouldn’t have enough diversification in our portfolio if something of that nature happened again. In the end though, from a strategic exit perspective, a company that is solely focused on healthcare is much more interesting to potential investors. That gave me the solace that the decision would be best for the company in the long term.

Doug: How long did to take for all your stakeholders to fully realize the strategy was working?
Matt: I would say it took about a full year for people to really see the strategy was working. And now, a few years later, people are really seeing the strategy in action as it has compounded with the reputation of the brand focus that we started in 2021. The issue we have now is how we are going to implement all of the new opportunities we have coming in. That is a problem I’ll always want to have.

Altus Conversation - Matt Silverberg

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