Move Fast, Break Nothing:
Perch Surges Ahead with Precision Problem Solving from Catalant
Perch is a fast-growing startup that is pioneering a new category at the intersection of ecommerce, supply chain operations, and technology by acquiring and improving the quality and performance of Amazon sellers at scale.
Founded in 2019, the company has grown to include more than 280 employees and 100 brands, including popular names like Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleep Suit and Spacesaver. While many brick-and-mortar retailers struggle to capitalize on the unstoppable wave of ecommerce, omnichannel consumer products companies like Perch are upending traditional go-to-market models by rapidly acquiring Amazon Marketplace brands, owning their inventory and IP, and infusing quality, trustworthiness, and strong ethics into their family of teams.
In early 2021, when the company was in its initial stages of hypergrowth and had just 30 employees contending with an explosion in online commerce popularity in the midst of the global pandemic, Perch Chief Business Operations Officer, Suzanne Roeder, knew she had a challenge at hand. Having recently joined Perch after 20 years at Bain & Company, most recently as EVP, Global Strategic Initiatives, Roeder was entrusted with helping Perch prioritize growth while making optimal investments in operational excellence – a somewhat competitive set of directives that every promising startup must at some point learn to balance.
By June of 2021, Perch had quadrupled its business size through acquisitions and brought on more than 80 new acqui-hired employees in a single day – all of whom needed offer letters. While this was an exciting indication of the company’s growth and validation of its impact, there was a major problem – Perch didn’t have a head of HR or an HR department of any kind. Roeder had been filling in with HR management matters on top of her existing full-time job as CBOO, and despite the explosion of hiring that was taking place, the company had no real platform or team to handle the demand. “It takes a lot of humans to run our business,” said Roeder, “and we quadrupled the work we were doing in a single day with all this employee capacity but no resources to get them onboarded.”
On top of that, Perch was navigating the complicated calculus of balancing the need for speed with making careful business decisions, and accepting the implications of incomplete data. The company realized that without proper analysis of inventory at the companies they sought to acquire, they risked overpaying and making unwittingly costly decisions.
“It takes a lot of humans to run our business,” said Roeder, “and we quadrupled the work we were doing in a single day with all this employee capacity but no resources to get them onboarded.”
Perch turned to Catalant to bridge the gap.
“In a hyper-growth startup,” said Roeder, “sometimes you err on the side of speed and benefit of the doubt and cut corners, but Catalant helped us move fast without sacrificing quality.” She posted a project on the platform with the help of one of Catalant’s agile consulting program design managers and within four hours found an HR leader on the Catalant Marketplace named Rhonda Brown. Roeder spoke to Brown the next morning, felt instantly at ease with her executive background and personality, and without leaving the Catalant platform had filled out all the necessary documents for Brown to start work 30 hours later. In other words, Perch went from identifying their problem to getting an expert to start solving it in two days. To put that in perspective, the average time-to-fill for a typical business development or project management permanent employee, according to LinkedIn, is approximately 46 days. “No one can predict their workload perfectly,” said Roeder. “I’m a huge fan of using variable supplementary workforces to shore up gaps.”
Perch worked with Brown for a two-month project and her impact was duly felt in that short period of time. Brown not only created a parental leave policy – the first ever implemented at Perch – but she also filed for the ability to operate legally in ten different states, enabling the business to continue its stage of hypergrowth expansion.
Roeder was so pleased with the results she saw from her work with Brown that she next turned her attention to the company’s gap around inventory reconciliation accounting and M&A analytics. Perch quickly brought on an expert analyst using Catalant to do a deep-dive analysis to calculate how much inventory they were actually buying in purchasing a manufacturer of whiteboards. After only two phone calls, the expert, Nans Rivat, had hit the ground running. In the Perch team’s initial calculation of the amount of whiteboards that were actually in the target vendor’s warehouse, they had priced the inventory of the whiteboard company at $5 million. With that in mind, they planned to pay $5 million for the existing whiteboards as part of that transaction. Rivat performed a robust inventory reconciliation accounting analysis that determined the actual value of the whiteboards was only $3 million, instantly saving Perch $2 million. The total project cost to Perch for this insight was $9,185 – an ROI of 21,675%.
Perch continued to use Rivat’s services for three months. “If we hadn’t sharpened our pencils and hadn’t hired Nans,” said Roeder, “we would have paid our initial estimate. Catalant helped us do work that we otherwise wouldn’t have done that we needed to do.”