At Black Ice Strategies, we are fortunate to work with some of the best, most innovative entrepreneurs in the region. In our historical reference – Portfolio of Work, we hope that you may find new opportunities to support your business too.

Paulette Duderstadt, Principal

PORTFOLIO CLIENT: pathVu

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pathVu is an assistive technology provider that has commercialized IP from a local university in order to enable independent mobility by improving the accessibility, walkability, and safety of all pedestrians – of any ability. To-date, pathVu has grown organically, closing and executing on municipal and federal government contracts, augmented with SBIR funding.  Their customers are dispersed geographically, from Pittsburgh to Louisville, KY, to Boston, MA, and other locations on the East Coast and in the Midwest.


pathVu has proven the utility of its technology and established that customers are willing to pay for data collected about the sidewalks and curb ramps, and the associated analytics.  The analytics results in actionable information that enables sidewalk owners to prioritize repairs.  


Assessment

During the assessment process,  It became very clear that over time, operating as a professional services company (that is, data collection) would require both an expanded direct, internal sales function, and growing technician headcount in order to deliver on the work.  


Once the viability of its technology was proven, pathVu engaged Black Ice to develop strategies and executions to accomplish two overarching imperatives – identify and implement a business model that would result in the sustainable expansion of the business and a higher valuation, and develop channel strategies that would enable the company to scale its revenue generation capabilities.

Working together:

  • pathVu began focusing on the analytics side of the business and its app-based crowdsourcing capabilities, from both product development and sales effort perspectives 
  • There was no reason to forgo that cash generated from data collection.  Rather, a strategy was developed that shifted that effort from pathVu to its new channel, engineering firms
  • Repositioning and executing as a data- and subscription-based business would positively valuation of pathVu  and removing the drag caused by the business model combination of professional services and data analytics
  • Through customer surveys performed by Black Ice, service quality, budgeting consideration and pricing dynamics were obtained and implemented based on customer/market needs
  • A full multi-year financial model was developed to operate against and measure progress, or course correct
  • A marketing execution plan was implemented to support the new channel strategy; that is using engineering firms to include the pathVu offering in their existing services portfolio, and expand the pathVu customer reach to a one-to-many, and subscribe to the analytics service.

The first engineering firms have agreed to subscribe to the new business model, and pathVu now has a marketing plan to reach additional customers, and the means to measure financial progress.


PORTFOLIO CLIENT: FIVESTAR* DEVELOPMENT

fivestar* is a custom software development firm providing solutions to a range of companies nationwide for nearly 25 years. Customer sectors include financial services, higher education, manufacturing, and retail. And, practice areas include custom software workforce development, RPA, and complex workflow improvements.

fivestar* desired to complement its existing sales efforts, which traditionally relied solely on direct sales and referrals, and requested assistance in developing a  channel strategy. An executable strategy was developed, and MSP firms emerged as the optimal channel on which build an additional layer of revenue. The focus then shifted to guiding the execution of the channel strategy. Working collaboratively with the fivestar* leadership and marketing team:

  • In 60 days, a new practice area– robotics process automation was constructed that strongly appealed to MSPs
  • This channel strategy fully leveraged fivestar*’s demonstrated capabilities in the areas of workflow integration and custom application development
  • Developed a marketing execution calendar targeting the new channel partner targets
  • Developed KPIs and other measurements that can be used to validate both the effectiveness of these executions and identify sales and marketing efforts that require correction
  • Developed a sales funnel and provided guidance to the internal team with messaging, awareness efforts and resource allocation targeting companies in the sales funnel

To learn more about fivestar* please see their website or take the RPA Readiness Quiz today.

PORTFOLIO CLIENT: JSAUNDERS SOLUTIONS

JSaunders Solutions (“JSS”) is a is a digital transformation consultancy focused on delivering strategy and executions with the goal to identify your business challenges and optimize your business outcomes (ROI). JSS was founded in 2014 and is evolving devops tools and techniques to be more relevant in the hyper-competitive business environment of 2019. The company focuses on middle market companies with $20M to $100M in revenue and 50-200 employees, and implements directly or in collaboration with internal development teams.

JSS has secured a ‘cornerstone account’ that will provide the foundation for accelerated, diversified growth in 2019 and beyond. Working with the principal at JSS, Black Ice developed and implemented multiple deliverables, which included

  • Developing an actionable business plan, focused on both going deeper in the existing market segment that JSS serves, and diversifying from both customer and market segment perspectives
  • Implemented a progressive branding strategy
  • Developed a marketing strategy and executions that will facilitate the revenue growth and diversification objectives
  • Constructed a progressive sales funnel, reflective of the sales process, which is used to manage the new, formalized business development function
  • Created a detailed financial model, and performance dashboard that will be used to set and measure performance against internal performance targets 
  • Developed a staffing plan and a Marketing To Recruit plan that will attract the talent needed for both JSS and its clients as it moves forward and executes on its plans

Revenues are growing,  the marketing plan is being implemented and JSS is on track to achieve multiple’d revenue growth in 2019.

You can learn more about JSS at www.jsaundersdev.com

PORTFOLIO CLIENT: CORE LEARNING EXCHANGE

Core Learning Exchange (CLX) is an EdTech company located in Boulder, CO. Its Founder, Jeff Katzman, is a veteran in the sector, and decided to tackle one of the most expensive and vexing problems in K-12 education today, the legacy approach to ‘teaching to the mean’ using one-size-fits all textbooks. Working together:

  • A business strategy was constructed to focus the product on an emerging greenfield opportunity, Career Technical Education; that is, secondary school curriculum that focuses on preparing high school students for high-paying careers that do not require a college degree.  
  • This positioning possesses several characteristics that render it attractive for a Company at the stage of CLX – an emerging market opportunity that is well-documented and quantified, historically underserved sector and a lack of incumbent providers.
  • Once the strategy was established, a business plan and financial model were constructed to both guide the business and enable the company to pursue outside funding, if the company chose to do so.  
  • Concurrent with the business plan, a marketing strategy and resultant  tactical executions were developed and implemented to accelerate the growth of the sales funnel.
  • This plan was used to attract the company’s first-ever SBIR grant at a high school in Maine.  This project is proving every aspect of the new business model, generating benefits spanning the students, the high school and the local employer community that is struggling to attract employees for mid-level skilled jobs.  

The SBIR  project has resulted in an increase of qualified, commercial sales leads, which the company is now pushing through its sales process.

You can learn more about CLX at www.corelearningexchange.com

PORTFOLIO CLIENT: PLATYPUS

Platypus is a Pittsburgh-based robotic and analytics company, founded in 2014 by Dr. Paul Scerri, who had previously served at Carnegie Mellon as a robotics professor or 14 years. Platypus utilizes small, cooperative robotic boats designed to collect water data about inland waterways – lakes, rivers and retention ponds, for example. 

After the development of the robotic boats was completed, it was time to focus on business expansion.  Working together, a business strategy and series of tactics were constructed, which included:

  • Develop an actionable strategic and business plan, focused on solving three challenges which would ultimately position Platypus as a water analytics company – increasing revenue, scaling deployment capabilities and outsourcing the manufacturing of boats, all resulting in Platypus capable of focus on advancing its analytics capabilities
  • Develop a marketing strategy that could be supported by the company at its stage, and that would evolve with the company as it expanded its customer acquisition activities
  • Construct a progressive sales funnel, reflective of the sales process that the company observed as emerging
  • Identified a business model which was premised on leasing boats, rather than selling them, to best manage inventory requirements and strengthen the company’s ‘as-a-service’ positioning
  • Create a detailed financial model that could be used to set internal performance targets and communicate the financial opportunity to potential investors
  • Develop a staffing plan to support the company’s growth
  • Serve in the day-to-day role of COO to ensure that the company operated effectively and ensure that the technology and field resources can focus on the areas that are most beneficial for the company and its customers

Revenues are growing,  the operations outsource is in progress and the company signed its largest customer, a leader in the Oil & Gas sector.

You can learn more about Platypus at www.senseplatypus.com