December 19, 2012
Interviewed by: David Snow
Video Clip
Login to view full video

Deal Story: Author Solutions

David Hellier of Bertram Capital speaks with Privcap about the self-publishing platform, Author Solutions.

David Hellier of Bertram Capital speaks with Privcap about the self-publishing platform, Author Solutions.

Hellier: We brought four companies together over about a two-and-a-half to three year period in the self-publishing space. But at the time it was called vanity publishing because the traditional publishers didn’t like the idea. It was more about going through a filter and the large publishers picking winners and losers. And there was this cottage industry that would enable you to basically publish on your own if you couldn’t get picked up by a traditional publishers. And so we really liked the concept and felt-, again, this was a business services company, but it didn’t have a technology background. And we felt that we could add technology to the business in order to scale the business without having to add the bodies or the people at the same rate as a traditional publisher. So we went in and built an entire workflow platform standardized around salesforce.com to really help build the overall management of customers. And we grew that business from about 6,000 titles that were being published when we bought to the business to nearly 30,000 titles when we exited. And so we felt we built a platform that was of sufficient scale that we could generate good strategic interest. [Because for our firm we really focus on investments where there is a very logical and very realistic set of strategic buyers. We’re not interested in private equity to private equity re-trades. We want that kind of platform of opportunities. And we just felt that we had grown the business to well over a hundred million dollars, we had significant EBIDA margins around this business that we felt would be highly attractive, and the company did a fantastic job as well as my partner, Jared Ruger, working with them to create a segment, self-publishing, that was not only recognized, but respected in the publishing industry. So we really changed a paradigm on the acceptance of self-publishing. And the Author Solutions platform was directly associated with that positive change. So we thought it was a really good time to test the water and we were fortunate to be able to have an exit with a very respected strategic.

In what specific ways did you transform the business?

So first was really focusing on technology as a driver for that business to enable growth and enable a much, much higher margin business than traditional publishing. We built an entire workflow platform to more efficiently publish books. And we also implemented a disciplined approach with Salesforce to have a much broader way to manage customers. So we relied on technology to drive margins and growth. The second piece was we augmented management. We brought in a CEO, Kevin Weiss, who had an incredible IT background, and both consumer and business-to-business, who really took a sleepy, more VC oriented business and really professionalized it and put in the processes to be able to grow. So it was a hundred million dollar-plus business and we ran it as if it was a half a billion or a billion-dollar business. I think the third thing was really being smart about our acquisition strategy. So when we initially acquired that business we had a map of businesses that we felt very confident we could go out and buy multiple complementary businesses. So in this case we really focused on rolling up actually three other add-ons that each case was accretive to the business, and in each case added some capabilities that the business didn’t have before. So we extended-, so one business that we bought helped us get into the more—less aspirational, and more kind of consumer-focused writer.  

Register now to watch this video and access all content.

It's FREE!

  • CHOOSE YOUR NEWSLETTERS:
  • I agree to the Privcap terms of use and privacy policy
  • Already a subscriber? Sign In

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.