Bluepoint Celebrates 10th Anniversary By Sharing A Decade's Worth Of Lessons Learned

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VISTA, Calif.-Bluepoint Solutions, a provider of Remote Deposit Capture, image-based Item Processing, electronic Content Management and Receipt Management, is celebrating is 10th anniversary. Below, CEO and founder Hal Tilbury discussed the lessons learned during the past 10 years (some of which came the hard way), in addition to what he terms a "big, hairy, audacious goal" for the decade ahead.

Q: Bluepoint is Celebrating its 10 year Anniversary this year. How have you seen Bluepoint grow and change in the last ten years?
Tilbury: BPS was formed as a "spin-out" from Bluebird Systems on Oct. 18th 2000. There were 9 original employees including Tom Lee and Paul Nelson who I think are now the only ones still with the company. All of these people would have been terminated by Open Text on that day had we not created the new company in order to save their jobs. At that time there was really no one in the company that knew very much about credit unions. The twenty or so credit union customers that we had were not very happy with our products or support so we were facing an up-hill battle to keep them. Because we strongly believed in a customer focused approach and wanted to build a long term recurring revenue steam, we went to work to fix the software that we had inherited and repair the relationships with the customers. It took almost two years to get the products where they actually worked and our support then began to improve rapidly.

Today we are a solid company with over 70 people and solid products. We have emerged as a leader in our market space. Customer satisfaction has improved dramatically and we now have a great reputation. The company has broadened its producd offerings into all aspect of document management including a very complete suite of products for item processing.

Another significant change for us was entering the corporate credit union channel. All sales before that had been direct to end users so this was quite a departure for us and opened up a whole new way to go to market that has enabled us to grow more rapidly and become better known.

Q: In your opinion, how has the traditional credit union evolved over the past 10 years, how has technology evolved?
Tilbury: CUs are getting bigger through both organic growth and mergers. The very small credit unions are being consolidated and there are now about 2,000 less than there were 10 years ago. Solutions that were a novelty 10 years ago such as receipt management are now fairly commonplace. There is a much greater emphasis on security and disaster recovery today. But core vendors have done little to innovate and still offer poor choices for document management in most cases. Our products are evolving fairly rapidly as we constantly are looking for ways to innovate and maintain a leadership position in our space.

Q: What are the biggest challenges facing credit unions today as compared to 10 years ago?
Tilbury: For small ones it is survival as they face the financial crisis of the past year and have to innovate to stay competitive with other credit unions that have a substantial and growing size advantage. Regulations are a huge burden on all CUs but especially the small guys.

Q: What is the single largest issue/challenge facing credit unions today?
Tilbury: CUs have been very reliant on their corporate CU in the past. This reliance is over and they are scrambling to redefine how and where to get the support services that they used to rely on their corporate to provide. They have suffered large losses because of the investment mistakes made by the corporate and they truly cannot afford to retain their membership in many cases.

Q: Based on your experience, what do some of the most successful credit unions have in common?
Tilbury: I think it mostly comes down to management. CUs that have a CEO who is hands on and very involved seem for the most part to be better run and do better Field of members ship can be a key factor as is geographic location. CUs located in states hit hard by the housing crisis are really struggling in many cases unless they have a bullet-proof field of member ship What does it take for a CU to succeed and prosper today? (seed for best practices, content management? Like all businesses they need to be run to optimize the bottom line and constantly strive to improve productivity Major inefficiencies, something that we know a lot about, must be identified and eliminated. The days of protecting every employee "…because we are a credit union." At the expense of efficiency and cost containment have to end or the credit union will not survive.

Q: What do you think was the biggest lesson learned during Bluepoint's first decade in business?
Tilbury: We wasted a lot of cycles hiring people who did not come out of the credit union industry If I had it to do over again I would insist on hiring a very high percentage of our people from the industry or from competitors. Expecting people who do not know the industry to become productive contributors quickly is unrealistic.

Q: How are credit union's changing? How are their members changing?
Tilbury: Unfortunately, I would have to say that I do not see much change or innovation and I see this as a serious problem. At the same time there really has been a lot of innovation around internet banking, bill pay, eStatements and other innovations. But these have come from external sources and not so much from credit unions themselves. I would like to see credit unions redefine how they go to market using tele-commuting for their employees, closing branches in favor of internet based banking and using other technologies to get away from the costly old branch model.

Q: You've seen how CUs have changed in the last 10 years, how do you think they will change in the next ten years?
Tilbury: We will see much more change in the coming 10 years than we did in the last 10. The question is not if change will occur, the question is who will be willing to make the changes because they will emerge as the winners.

Q: How will credit unions remain competitive? What impact do you think state of the art technology can have on a CU's business?
Tilbury: This is where blocking and tackling become important. This means that they must reduce costs, improve employee productivity and enhance service to the member. To do this they will need to employ technology to its fullest and implement it wisely. The technology is available but it is not normally utilized effectively. Our role as a technology provider is not simply to offer technology solutions it is to assist our customers in the proper use of our products so that they can fulfill the promise that such solutions bring to the table.

Q: What are your goals for the company for the next 10 years?
Tilbury: We have posted what we call a "BIG Hairy Audacious Goal" to grow to become a $100 million company in revenues in the next 10 years. Needless to say we are ambitious and aggressive but at the same time we think we have a shot at getting to that level. It will require us to gain substantial penetration into the banking market, move into selected international markets, broaden our product offerings while staying within the context of document and content management and it will require us to grow our recurring revenue into a substantial portion of total annual sales. Clearly we intend to become the leader and the innovator for financial institutions of all stripes and sizes in what we consider to be an overlooked and unloved space, content management.

Q: What advice do you have for credit union executives based on what you've witnessed over the past 10 years?
Tilbury: In a word, take some risks! Those that follow will get slaughtered like sheep. Those that lead will find unparalleled opportunities due to the incredible changes that are taking place right now in the industry. It is in times like these, times of turmoil that opportunistic entrepreneurs thrive because they are willing to take well thought out risks in order to grow Entrepreneurial leadership is uncommon in financial institutions which should create a wide field of opportunity for those willing to be entrepreneurs.

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