Experience on Demand
Starcreek Associates is a diverse network of highly experienced, successful executives working closely with entrepreneurs, investors and companies to solve challenging business problems. We eliminate obstacles to your success, driving measurable and meaningful results by bringing the right people with the right expertise to your unique situation.
Our experience spans many industries, functional areas and business models. We help run your business and we don't shy away from the tough problems. The following is just a sample of our prior work.
Contact us to learn more about our capabilities and to learn how we can help you succeed.
Supply Optimization in a Two-Sided Marketplace
The Challenge: Ensuring volume and quality of supply matches demand in a two-sided marketplace.
The Story: Two-sided marketplace models are increasingly common, but providers often focus disproportionately on generating marketplace demand while underestimating the complexities of ensuring supply is appropriate and consistent. We analyzed SKU-level consumption patterns, customer feedback data and other operating metrics to build a comprehensive toolkit for optimizing supply and unit pricing.
The Results: Our analysis conclusively demonstrated that while the marketplace demonstrated classic price elasticity of demand, demand for individual suppliers--subject to specific operating characteristics--is highly price inelastic. Unit prices were adjusted to achieve optimum utilization of inventory and the company (and many suppliers) benefitted from higher margins which further reinforced customer inelastic demand through price signaling.
Maximizing Value in a Private Company Sale Process
The Challenge: Ensuring maximum exit value for entrepreneurs and investors.
The Story: A fast-growing entrepreneurial company received unsolicited (and unexpected) acquisition interest from a much larger strategic buyer. Like many entrepreneurs focused on longer-term growth, the founder had invested minimal time and resources in creating the foundational elements to optimize near term value. We provided an initial assessment of the market for similar companies, then sourced additional specialist expertise and managed a structured process to generate maximum exit value for the owners.
The Results: By working closely with the founders and key outside resources, we were able to craft and deliver a compelling case for a much higher sale price of the company. Multiple qualified offers were received and within 9 months the company sold for more than 2.5X the original unsolicited offer. Throughout the sale process, our engagement allowed the entrepreneurs to stay focused on continuing the successful operation of the core business with minimal distraction.
Company Sale vs. Asset Liquidation Strategy
The Challenge: Generating optimal value on asset disposition when faced with multiple approaches.
The Story: A large, multi-brand company sought to exit a line of business which had substantial embedded asset value. Moderate interest from PE buyers raised the possibility of generating greater value from selling off individual assets rather than the entire brand as a whole. We modelled alternative scenarios through a simulation process, including multiple assumption sets around individual asset value, time to sale and risk of continued decline in operating performance of the surviving assets. The analysis ultimately provided a range of likely outcomes under the asset sale scenario for executive leadership to compare to the PE offers already in hand for the entire brand.
The Results: We presented our analysis and recommendation to the company’s Executive Committee, and defended our conclusions (single PE sale in this case) against a different perspective from the internal Corporate Development team (piecemeal asset sale over time). The Committee decided to follow our recommendation and consummated the PE sale shortly thereafter. Post-transaction performance of the assets suggest our recommendation generated significant incremental value relative to the alternative approach.
Multi-Unit Trade Area Optimization
The Challenge: Capital planning and retail trade area optimization
The Story: An established multi-unit retailer purchased the rights to a large block of distressed assets in a partially built-out market. The company needed to decide which of the assets to buy, which ones to avoid and which ones to use to replace existing portfolio assets. Using data from other markets, we built a highly predictive model of unit volume relative to trade area dynamics then optimized the potential combined portfolio relative to capital costs, service density and overall market share/profitability.
The Results: The company made a data-supported decision in asset selection and portfolio redeployment, building out one of the largest DMAs in record time and adding more than 200 new outlets to the system. Due to the favorable economics of the distressed asset purchase and thoughtful trade area design, the company enjoyed dramatic lift in market share in a DMA previously dominated by another competitor. The same predictive model methodology was then replicated across other more established markets to optimize capital investment relative to trade area opportunities.
Optimizing In-house vs. Outsourced Support Resources
The Challenge: Workforce Management in High-Touch Services
The Story: A high-end consumer brand handled all inbound inquiries--both service and sales--via a single in-house contact center, but new found marketing success strained the ability of internal staff and technology to handle spikes in volume. Because the company enjoyed a very high customer LTV and differentiated itself with great customer service, management was hesitant to consider outsourcing as an option. By breaking down call types and identifying different customer expectations for each type, we were able to identify a hybrid approach that solved the company’s problem and removed sales channel constraints that blocked revenue growth opportunities.
The Results: After the implementation of the hybrid model, calls were intelligently routed to a mix of internal and flexible external contact resources based on customer type, customer LTV and probability of a sale. Overall contact center costs declined relative to revenue, call abandonment declined precipitously and customer feedback on the contact center process remained very positive.
Defining Core Issues of Scale
The Challenge: Failure to Recognize a Core Constraint to Growth
The Story: An extremely successful startup was enjoying tremendous customer acceptance and explosive growth--customer metrics, revenue growth and team excitement was off the charts. In discussions with management and review of the operation and headcount, it was apparent to us that a specific business process associated with a core product feature was about to become a huge issue for the company. To this point, management had avoided the issue by simply hiring more people to manually perform the service, but headcount in this specific area was growing so fast that it would soon swamp the company if the problem wasn’t solved. Through hands-on sessions and headcount projection exercises, we were able to convince management to step back and address the issue sooner rather than later.
The Results: Once leadership understood the potential implications of the problem and embraced the need to find an immediate scalable solution, they worked closely with the team to develop a multi-tiered solution. Through the application of technology and a hybrid internal/external team, business growth continued unabated but resources devoted to the problematic process flat-lined in terms of headcount and share of costs. Leadership was able to remain focused on the overall strategy and success of the company rather than a non-scalable process.
Complimentary Brand Strategy
The Challenge: Targeting underserved markets without cannibalization
The Story: A direct-to-consumer company had found long term success as the high-end brand in its category, steadily increasing prices over time. While revenue and margins were strong, management recognized that a substantial part of the addressable market had been left behind as the brand had become more “high end.” We worked with a team of entrepreneurially-minded leaders within the company to reimagine the offering for a cost-conscious consumer by creating an extremely low price point constraint. This forced the team to fundamentally rethink the service offering and not just roll out a “lite” version of the flagship brand. Old ways of doing business would simply not work at the new price point.
The Results: By re-thinking the business from the ground up, the team was able to successfully launch the new brand at the very low price point. Specific strategies were developed to address challenges with customer acquisition (i.e. very low allowable CPA), technology, customer service and inventory management that ultimately proved successful. In addition, the team developed new skills in thinking creatively about problems that also benefited the flagship brand.