If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.
It’s pretty safe to say this mantra has found a home in the brains of many business people today, and with good reason. It’s easy to see a clean break in the foundation of a business — if you’re in the red consistently, or if your customers are clamoring for reform, there’s no real argument. But what if broken is not easily seen? Or what if your company, monetarily speaking, is not really broken at all?
Andrea Potter, General Manager of TripSpark Technologies, runs a company that serves the need for non-emergency mid-sized transit properties and private providers within public transit agencies. Potter’s company is just approaching the year and a half mark and, by her account, TripSpark is preforming very well. But it would be remiss to start the story here.
Potter is no stranger to the transit servicing industry, as her nearly fifteen years of experience working with transit service giant Trapeze can attribute. Starting as a director of sales in 1999, Potter climbed the ranks and became Vice President of Customer Care.
No, Trapeze is and definitely was never broken. However, Potter saw something clear enough to have her separate and plunge into another company.
“Trapeze has been around since the late 80s and in early 2014 we found we were really focusing a lot of our efforts on our very large transit properties (Toronto Transit, LA Metro, New York City Transit) and we weren’t filling the needs of the rest of the market,” said Potter.
It’s very easy for a businessperson to simply rest on the laurels of success. Trapeze is a very stable business with nearly 30 years of efforts working behind it. Sure, Potter could have focused on the positives, but sometimes business isn’t always about the bottom line.
“I could have died very happily working with Trapeze because I love working with our customers… but we weren’t spending enough time on all our customers,” said Potter. “Customers like colleges and universities and K to 12 schools.”
“We broke out into TripSpark to service a market largely ignored. It came down to spending 80 percent of our time on 20 percent of the market, we found that very specifically,” she said.
Officially, TripSpark grew from Trapeze in July 2014 and the transition came relatively easy. TripSpark, like Trapeze, is an operating company of Constellation Software, and as such Potter was able to leverage the value of Constellation’s name and use it to jumpstart her new company.
More Than a Hunch
“I personally visited about 60 clients and said ‘these are the assumptions we’re making in your industry, are they true?’ and the reality was we were on target by about 80 or 90 percent, but we did have adjust to a couple things. Within our first year, we launched a number of products that fit the needs of our customer.”
“Part of what we’re doing is not doing what Trapeze did. If we wanted to do what Trapeze did, we would have just stayed as part of Trapeze. We do a lot of reach out… and that marketing effort is important to us.”