Earlier this year, T-Pro Solutions, a provider of trade promotion optimization solutions, was acquired by Blacksmith Applications out of Lawrence, Ma. QCA was an early investor in the Columbus, Ohio-based company, participating in two rounds of funding with the first closing in the summer of 2015. What made the investment unique is the collaborative nature of the funding, which included Rev1 Ventures and the Ohio Tech Angel Fund, in addition to QCA.
Terry Ziegler, CEO of T-Pro Solutions, valued the willingness of QCA and the other groups to work together to get the deal done. The Angel groups shared due diligence, but for QCA, which has a membership base full of former consumer packaged good experience, Ziegler sensed the group wanted a partnership with the young company.
“QCA did a significant amount of business due diligence, and they spent time looking under the covers, reviewing our documentation, and our team could tell they wanted to be partners, and not simply passive investors,” said Ziegler.
From the lengthy due diligence review, Ziegler selected two members of QCA to be part of the company’s board, one as a member, the other as an observer.
“Because Alan Roth’s and Terry Wright’s unique skillset and knowledge, one from P&G and 8451, the other with startup experience, they understood what it takes to acquire a customer and provided guidance around our sales process that really benefited us,” added Ziegler. “One of Terry’s areas was go-to-market strategy and he was a great sounding board for how to improve our process and proposals.”
After hitting certain milestones and succeeding in acquiring customers, the company wanted to scale the business. Roth took the lead, bringing in a consultant to assist T-Pro leadership take the next steps, which became a pivotal moment in the company’s history.
“We always asked the board for help, but Alan insisted that we engage him and QCA even more,” said Ziegler. “Alan brought in a consultant at the right time, helping us to define an incredible mission, vision and values, and from that, we continued to grow until our exit earlier this year. This was just one more thing that came from his strategic leadership.”
When asked what he would say to an entrepreneur looking to work with QCA, Ziegler said, “it’s important that you spend time with the people, find out who are the ones that want to get involved. Your early investors will likely spend a lot of time with you, and if you don’t use their skills and experience, it’s a waste. They will go to war with you. In the end, money is a commodity, so it should always be about the people.”