Bridgepoint Consulting is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, and what an amazing ride it has been. Our firm would not be where it is today without our amazing clients and team of hard working and dedicated professionals. Over the last twenty years, we have more than quadrupled in size, continued to expand and evolve our service offerings to meet client needs and have successfully weathered the ups and downs of Central Texas’ changing economy.
To mark this special occasion, I sat down with Bob Smith, our Co-Founder and Principal to take a trip down memory lane and find out what lies ahead for Bridgepoint. Here’s what he had to say.
Q: When you initially partnered with fellow co-founder Gerry Bula, what was your vision/goal for Bridgepoint?
A: When we started down this path in 1999, the initial goal was simply to provide excellent assistance to our clients to accomplish their goals. Looking back, I now realize that we didn’t spend much time thinking 5+ years down the road about what we wanted the firm to become.
Q: How did the dot.com bust impact Bridgepoint’s early years in Central Texas?
A: Bridgepoint was founded during the dot.com boom, and when that bubble burst our business was severely impacted. During this peak time, we had about 20 professionals on our team. At the low point of the bust, we were down to five or six professionals simply working on a part-time basis. It was at this point that I joined Gerry to establish what was to become Bridgepoint.
Q: What prompted Bridgepoint to expand its CFO services for early stage companies?
A: In 2004, Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) compliance began to be required. A large part of SOX compliance involved information technology controls. Therefore, we saw the need and opportunity to build a risk team that included top-notch IT expertise. This was the early start of what has now become our large-scale NetSuite Consulting practice.
Q: Tell me a little about some of the Austin brands that Bridgepoint has supported since their inception?
A: We started working with Homeaway when they acquired they their first vacation rental by owner website, and have worked with them off and on over the years as they have continued to grow and scale. Funny enough, Brett Hurt wrote the original business plan for Bazaarvoice right here in our offices in 2004, and we’ve had the pleasure of working with the Company through different transitions and transactions as they have continued to evolve over the years. We’ve also been supporting Deep Eddy Vodka, RetailMeNot, Amplify Snack Brands (Skinny Pop Popcorn), Aeglea Therapeutics and numerous other Austin companies since they were in their early stages. Being able to support companies from their infancy and watching them grow and evolve throughout their lifecycle has been incredibly rewarding.
Q: How has Bridgepoint been able to attract and grow its team over the years?
A: As in any employment situation, there are multiple factors. One factor is we strongly believe that Bridgepoint’s most valuable asset is and will always be our people. We are truly a team that embraces diversity, fosters collaboration, practices mentorship, and believes in a positive, healthy work climate. We are proud to have professionals that do meaningful and rewarding work, in a flexible work environment. Another differentiator for Bridgepoint is upward mobility for our team. We strive to ensure our employees have a pathway to achieve their career goals. In fact, all of our firm’s Partners actually began their careers as staff members and worked their way up in the ranks to become partners. In some cases, we have had consultants who transitioned into internal leadership roles or advanced their careers by moving to other markets to lead an entire practice. Another key aspect of building and retaining our team as been giving them interesting and challenging projects at our clients. Our team is attracted to consulting because of the variety of projects on which they will be working, so we need to fulfill this desire.
Q: How have our client needs and relationships changed over 20 years?
A: In the early days, our client projects were more straightforward finance and accounting strategy and support. In recent years, technology has impacted the business more directly and their needs have grown and their expectations from us have increased dramatically. Certain fundamental aspects have not changed. For instance, we still want to be sure our clients are as prepared as possible for the next stage in their growth – whether it has to do with technology, people, processes or controls.
Q: While the market has evolved substantially, why has Bridgepoint remained focused on early stage companies?
A: The start-up community remains such a stalwart of the Austin business scene. We want to continue to support this vibrant sector. We have had a number of start-ups over the years grow into some of our largest clients. Some of these include HomeAway, BazaarVoice, RetailMeNot, Aeglea Therapeutics and Sailpoint, to name a few.
Q: What do you think are some critical success factors that have driven Bridgepoint’s continued success over the past 20 years?
A: First and foremost, all of our decisions have been made with our clients’ best interests as our first consideration. Secondly, we have always treated our employees with respect. In our business, our people are our most important asset and we want to make sure we always have the best individuals. Thirdly, and tied to the second point, we have always provided strong support to our team serving our clients. Everything ranging from technology, to the right expertise to the right types of training to grow their skillsets or career paths.
Q: What’s has been critical in keeping Bridgepoint relevant over the past 20 years and through changing market conditions?
A: In addition to maintaining the best team of consultants, I believe we have done a great job of anticipating the evolving needs of our clients and their industries to be able to provide them with smarter solutions. Clearly technology has changed significantly over the past 20 years. Early in our existence, we worked with many semiconductor companies. Today, there aren’t many of those, and we are now working with mobile app, SaaS and consumer products companies. We have also stayed abreast of the changing business models from perpetual licensed software to SaaS, as well as cloud-based business models. Additionally, we have been able to establish strong partnerships with leading software providers such as NetSuite, Salesforce, ServiceNow and more, to ensure that our clients leverage the right technology to remain a step ahead of their competition.
Q: Tell me a little bit about how you have personally been influential in this community?
A: When I arrived in Austin over 30 years ago, I was amazed at what a “pay-it-forward” town Austin was. I am so pleased that even though the city has grown exponentially in recent years, that spirit continues to exist. I have tried to do my part to live up to this spirit by helping as many entrepreneurs and others as possible. I have always enjoyed building relationships and with such great people as Joe Holt, Pete Winstead, Carmello Gordian, Jimmy Treybig, Tim Klitch and Laura Kilcrease, among others. It has been a pleasure and an honor.
Q: Looking ahead, what does Bridgepoint’s strategic partnership with Addison Group mean to the firm?
A: We are now two years into our relationship with Addison, and I cannot imagine being more pleased with our partnership. They have been very supportive when we have asked for help, and we are working every day to better leverage our respective relationships to ensure ongoing success. With their assistance, we have expanded our geographic footprint into both Houston and Dallas. We have also added several new clients because of our partnership. We are making investments in new services, with their help, that we could not have done on our own. I am very pleased and appreciative of having the Addison Group as our partner!
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add about Bridgepoint’s past 20 years?
A: I have had a number of great partners without whom, we would not be where we are today—starting with Gerry Bula, the original Founder of Bridgepoint Consulting. Gerry built the business by himself for three years before I joined him. I am not certain I could have started from scratch by myself and worked for three years without a partner. I am so impressed with what he did. My other partners over the years including Bill Patterson, Michael Johnson, Manuel Azuara, Liz Harder, Vince Trevino, Monica Gill and last, but certainly not least, our newest Principal – Jeff Hiddemen, have been such a great team to work with. Without them, Bridgepoint would be a mere shadow of its current company. To each of them, I want to again say thanks so much for your support and help, both personally and professionally. It has been a great ride!
CHECK OUT MORE ABOUT THIS SPECIAL MILESTONE:
- Read about our recent expansions to Dallas and Houston to support middle-market transformation
- Learn about our new Seattle-based NetSuite Consulting practice
- Meet Jeff Hiddemen – Bridgepoint’s newest Principal
- Check out our new full-service Private Equity Advisory practice
- Discover 20 great reasons you should join #teambridgepoint
- See photos from our 20th Anniversary Celebration
BRIDGEPOINT AT A GLANCE:
- Founded in 1999. Full-service management consulting firm focused on finance and IT transformation
- 150 high quality professionals with expertise in finance, IT, business processes and controls, and internal audit and compliance to support private and public sector organizations
- National reach and a localized touch—headquartered in Austin, Texas with offices in Dallas and Houston
- Technology agnostic with strategic partnerships with leading software providers including NetSuite, Oracle, Salesforce and more
- Experience working with hundreds of PE-backed companies to provide resources and solutions to support critical business transitions from the startup phase all the way to IPO readiness and beyond
- Expertise across multiple industries including, Manufacturing, SaaS, eCommerce/Retail, Professional Services and Wholesale/Distribution
- Nationwide services with Addison Group. As part of Addison Group, a staffing and consulting firm with over 4,000 professionals, Bridgepoint can deliver across the US (Addison Group has over 24 offices serving multiple business verticals, including IT, Finance & Accounting, HR, Administrative, Healthcare, Engineering)
- Fun facts: Bridgepoint has had over 30 “boomerang” employees; hired over 1,000 people over the last 20 years; recently surpassed the 2,500 client mark; and has completed over 4,000 engagements to date!