Thinkpiece Partners

Case Study

Thinkpiece Partners is disrupting qualitative research and it uses C2FO to bridge cash flow gaps so it can keep up with meteoric growth.

When John Dibling walked through the door that night in 2013, the first thing his wife said was, “I want to quit my job and start a business.”

After 14 years in the healthcare research industry, Bonnie Dibling was ready to turn her unique approach to qualitative research into a disruptive market research company.

Rather than train professional researchers on subject matter for a project, Bonnie found that training subject matter experts on how to perform research produced significantly better qualitative insights.

The proof was in the reports she provided clients. The insights had greater relevance and were more actionable when someone who understood an industry or product category conducted the research.

Two weeks after that conversation with her husband, Bonnie had her first clients. Three months later, she hired her first employee.

Things really took off when a prominent market research firm selected Thinkpiece Partners as one of its two qualitative vendors.

Almost in the blink of an eye, the company grew 400% year-over-year.

John Dibling soon left his job as a director of engineering to join Thinkpiece full-time and create the company’s technology research practice.

The challenges of meteoric growth

Growing 400% year-over-year is a fantastic accomplishment, but it included some growing pains, particularly in the finance side of the business.

For Thinkpiece Partners, it can take six months from the time a project starts to when it receives payment. While the company waits, it still has payroll, vendors, and other expenses to address.

In the early days, Bonnie and John were always keeping an eye on upcoming expenses and payments.

“I was constantly in our accountant’s office asking, ‘Okay, what does next month hold? What are we going to invoice and what is going to be coming in?’ It was a real balancing act.”

Bonnie Dibling, Owner and CEO of Thinkpiece Partners

When they faced cash flow gaps, they did everything they could to keep the business running, from selling their cars to borrowing from family and friends.

It was challenging but manageable. Then, Thinkpiece Partners’ largest customer missed its payment date.

Weeks turned into months. The customer owed hundreds of thousands of dollars, and it was threatening the very existence of the business.

“I remember I was getting ready to sell my motorcycle to make payroll. The day that I was getting it ready to put it up for sale is the day that we got the check that was 90 days past due.”

John Dibling, President of Thinkpiece Partners

It was a defining moment. The Diblings knew they needed better solutions to help bridge cash flow gaps.

They found no help from traditional banks.

Even though Thinkpiece Partners was showing massive growth, healthy revenues, and worked with Fortune 100 clients, the company was too young and did not have enough cash on hand to secure a bank line of credit.

Then, John found C2FO.

An on-demand solution for cash flow gaps

“He comes in and says Intel has this quick-pay program and I think it may be really good,” Bonnie said, recalling John’s solution.

She was skeptical, but they tried C2FO. When the money showed up in the company’s bank account a few days later, they realized they’d found their answer.

“And at first I was like, this almost seems too good to be true. But we tried it, and it was not too good to be true, and it worked like a dream for us.”

Bonnie Dibling

To this day, the program just works. Thinkpiece Partners’ client, Intel, loads the invoices into the C2FO platform daily and notifies Thinkpiece Partners when invoices are available for early payment.

The Diblings can draw the money immediately instead of waiting 90 days for payment.  The process has worked so well that they now automatically have invoices paid early once Intel has approved them.

It’s helped them find a calm state of equilibrium with their cash flow.

“I’m happy to spend that money to get that cash 90 days before it is technically due.”

John Dibling

As ThinkPiece has continued to grow, it has needed capital beyond what was available in Intel invoices.

Through C2FO’s Receivables Financing, Thinkpiece Partners can unlock the capital within their invoices from customers that are not on the C2FO platform.

They simply upload their invoices to build a line of credit and, when needed, draw capital from the available balance.

The ability to access additional working capital from customers not on C2FO, “Literally saved the company at that time,” John said.

“In the past, we would have been thinking, ‘Okay, what haven’t we sold? Which family member haven’t we borrowed money from?’ But now it’s just like, ‘Okay, so how much should I fill in before I click the button on C2FO?’’

John Dibling

With more stability and working capital solutions in place, Bonnie says, “I lose sleep about plenty of things with the business, and payroll is not one of them anymore.”

Creating the future of qualitative research

Beyond proving how difficult it can be to manage cash flow, the success of Thinkpiece Partners has also proven their approach to qualitative research.

Up until now, the majority of its growth has been driven by word of mouth and they’ve been content to remain in the shadows.

But that is about to change. As Thinkpiece Partners looks to the future, they’re ready to shake things up and bring their new approach to the forefront of qualitative research.

Learn more about Thinkpiece Partners here: https://thinkpiecepartners.com

Related Content