Acquisitions and culture help vault Formstack to next level
Growth takes many shapes. Sometimes growth happens slowly; other times, it’s foisted upon us (If growth can ever be unwelcome). In Formstack’s case, growth is a long-term vision executed in sweeping waves that has led to steady gains and a collection of newly acquired companies, all of which are looking to take its products to the next level.
Formstack grows through smart acquisitions
Formstack is a veteran of the Indiana tech scene, with 13 years under its belt and now a bevy of acquisitions to accompany its experience. After TechPoint shared in celebrating its tenth birthday, Formstack continued growing through an especially busy period in the acquisitions department.
Within 24 months, Formstack closed on five separate acquisitions:
- Fast Forms, native form and survey builder on the Salesforce AppExchange (October 2017)
- QuickTapSurvey, mobile and offline survey provider (December 2018)
- Bedrock Data, online data integration platform (February 2019)
- WebMerge, provider of automated contracts, applications, and proposal PDF and Word documents (April 2019)
- InsureSign, eSignature software provider (July 2019)
Each company Formstack acquired filled a gap in its current product offerings. Some arose from connections with the companies’ founders; others came from using the products and then buying the company wholesale.
“We want to bring on great teams of people who can help us scale faster; that team culture dynamic is one of those critical aspects that make an integration work well,” said Formstack CEO Chris Byers.
Chris and Formstack COO Dustin Sapp are now strategizing how best to arrange elements from the acquired companies into a single, easy-to-use tool that amplifies what current users will get. “We definitely believe that one single user experience and one brand is the only way to go forward,” said Chris. “What’s interesting is that every product we’ve purchased is a very inbound-driven company. They’ve worked hard to build up SEO and run PPC and build their brand, so we do have to be careful about how we do that and also respect the brand.”
Acquisition management key to successful process
While the acquisitions are impressive on their own merits, the management required to handle rapid-fire acquisitions deserves equal credit. It can be difficult on both the acquirer and acquiree, and with Formstack averaging a new acquisition every five months, maintaining that pace is a balancing act. “Part of this is about picking your battles on what you’re going to move fast on, and what you’re willing to break versus what you’re not,” said Dustin.
When companies are purchased, it can leave ample room for doubts and concerns with staff members. Formstack leadership made allaying those concerns a top priority. “Because of the stress that comes from getting acquired, we wanted to make sure they understood a big reason why we wanted to acquire them was because of the team that’s there,” said Dustin. “We value them, and we see what they’ll bring to our culture and that they’ll help in the mission that we’re we’re chasing towards. We try to do as much people integration as we can on day one.”
Remote work eases transitions and enables growth
As Formstack continues growing, integrating remote work becomes increasingly necessary as well. While many Indiana companies are deploying strategies to bring talent here to the state, Formstack’s approach takes its work to the people it wants to hire. With over 60% of its current workforce not based in its Fishers office—including a long-time employee from Poland–Formstack lives by its own creed.
That doesn’t mean the company’s physical location isn’t important. The company annually flies every employee into its office for an “all-hands” gathering. “While a portion of that time is definitely spent on vision-casting, programming and working on things for the company, more of it is spent on team building, relationship building and building trust with one another. Those are the things that are going to last throughout the course of the year,” said Dustin.
The efforts Formstack has invested into culture have been paying serious dividends. Recently, the company was recognized at Powderkeg’s Breakout Tech Culture Awards as the top-rated workplace of the year, adding to its numerous recognitions throughout its history.
As the new Formstack tool, powered by newly acquired tech, finds its footing, Formstack is looking toward its next phase of more deeply integrating within its client companies. “We want to see companies adopt Formstack across the entire organization, because we really think about wanting to be a part of how companies work,” said Chris.