Subject area: Strategic Positioning and Corporate Level Strategy
Industry: Education Technology
Client: Jay Hotaling (CEO), Brian Peacock (CTO), Alexander Potts (Lead Developer)
In 2020, the CEO of FastFig was faced with a dilemma at a key inflection point for the company’s growth. All three of FastFig’s founders found their own careers drawing them in new directions, which was taking time away from operating their business. However, they were still interested in the continuation of their business and product line because it had a material impact on the lives of students and educators. Additionally, they saw the unprecedented market opportunity related to online learning precipitated by COVID-19 and wanted to see their product grow in this hot market.
In order to take advantage of this market opportunity while still facilitating a change in the founders’ careers, the day-to-day operations of FastFig needed to change. The CEO needed a suitable corporate strategy to both grow the FastFig product line and to differentiate it in the market. This included a decision on whether they should pursue a strategic partnership to engage in an extension of their dominant core competencies or if they should build out an internal team, including a Board of Directors and a management and development operations team. The question really was which option—a strategic partnership or an internal team—would allow them to take advantage of the market opportunity and reach profitability the fastest while still allowing the founders to pursue their separate careers.
“FastFig’s Growth Story” as a “Making Your Case” project
Project Relevance/Our Team
We found the project to be quite relevant for our team given our group’s interest in a career within finance or consulting. This project gave us real-world consulting experience where we were tasked with coming up with a solution to a dilemma that a small startup was having. This project gave us direct experience in interacting with the CEO of a startup and we were able to learn about some of the challenges that come with running a business that has been through various levels of development. The project also gave us experience on how to do the necessary research in order to provide value to a company that we are developing a strategic initiative for.
Connecting with the Company’s Reality/Data Collection
We were fortunate to have first-hand information made available to us through direct communication with the CEO, Jay Hotaling, via various zoom meetings and email/text exchanges. We were also able to obtain primary data such as financials, timelines, email correspondences with potential brokers, and other relevant company information.
Through the analysis of the collected information and problem dilemma, various frameworks were utilized to provide a viable recommendation for the future growth of FastFig. These included PESTLE, VRIO, Porter’s Five Forces, SWOT, Industry Lifecycle, and Value Chain.
After analyzing the company’s case, the recommendation for FastFig is to pursue a strategic partnership by pursuing a focused differentiation strategy as well as a related diversification strategy.
Once an appropriate strategic partner that fits FastFig’s mission, vision, and culture objectives is found, it is recommended that they be onboarded through either an equity stake in the company, a profit-sharing agreement or a hybrid of the two. This will align company interests and ensure that both parties have an equitable relationship that will help FastFig be successful in the long term.
What’s Next and Project Utilization
Jay Hotaling: “I love talking about FastFig and the journey we’ve been on, but more importantly I love seeing FastFig help students and teachers. There are a number of directions to take the company/product and we’re excited to carefully consider each of them. Your fresh perspective [is] very valuable.”