SURGENT CASE STUDY

President and Chief Executive Officer: 2014 - 2016

Executive Summary


Surgent was experiencing a decline in revenues due to a paradigm change to the continuing education learning model.  A healthy company with extraordinary brand equity, the team executed on a business model change to tech-enabled online learning while also building an industry leading exam preparatory business.


Investor:   Spire Capital


Background


Surgent is a leading provider of continuing education and exam preparatory services to CPAs. Located in Philadelphia, PA, Surgent provides services for the life cycle of a CPA’s career, beginning with its award-winning CPA exam preparatory program followed up a lifetime of learning via continued education offerings.


Challenge


A company with extraordinary brand equity, the offerings were principally in live events and not online learning. A second challenge was that the model was built on “content quality” rather than customer experience. After a strategic review, we undertook a series of strategic initiatives.

The key initiative was expanding the breadth of online programs to a 24/7 on-demand platform.  We widened our offerings beyond accounting to adjacent verticals while expanding the format of our offerings to be 100% mobile friendly. We redesigned multiple websites to optimize search, driving significant B2P growth. Attendant to these changes was implementation of a state-of-art digital marketing strategy. 


We developed a CPA exam prep business line to capture CPAs at the front end of the career cycle, utilizing a state-of-the-art adaptive learning methodology. We created from scratch a B2B sales force to sell into enterprise level clients, allowing for enterprise level B2B sales. We implemented packaging and pricing changes based on research-derived assessments of customer interests.


Surgent Performance Results


· Drove first-year revenue growth of 12% after 4% decline in year prior, a significant turnaround based on a refined go-to-market strategy

· Digital revenue growth of 30% per year for first two years

· B2B – enterprise sale – grew 4X over two years of operation

· CPA exam prep business line grew from scratch to 2019 revenue of $5 mm


Exit 11/19 at 12.3x EBITDA to private equity buyer.

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