The Fall of Ryma Technology Solutions

There are many reasons why Ryma failed at creating a successful business. At the beginning, the product was ahead of its time with no real competitor. The initial intent was to simply replicate the Pragmatic Marketing Framework.  As the business grew and seemed to demonstrate signs of fast growth, the companies decided to massively invest into sales and marketing without putting the right investment to solve fundamental product issues that the company had. Without getting the desired results, the company ended up burning a significant amount of money.

Clearly the company had been successful in attracting early adopters but failed to build what was needed in order to handle a critical mass of customers; simplifying the product, proper customer support and having the right kind of customer onboarding program. All of our customers felt that we were not listening to their needs, forcing them to pay for extra product development (change order as they used to call them), provided limited customer support – at least nothing pro-active in making sure that the customers were properly using the product.

Finally the company had developed a completely new process called “the seven pillars of product management”; sounding good on paper but had not the right level of maturity in order to be commercialized as the company had done so. As a result, the company had a bad record of customer attrition and unsatisfied users.

Enter a new CEO

I came on board on December 12, 2011. Given my past experience in managing complex product portfolios for companies such as Kaydara, Autodesk, and OZ Communications – I had my own ideas on what FeaturePlan should be doing as a product designed for product managers. We rapidly revisited the business strategy, direction, product strategy and what was needed to get the business on the right track.

We rapidly put in place regular product meetings and met frequently with our existing customers as well as talking to a lot of prospects and industry experts. We were beginning to make very good progress with new concepts such as Document Center and our plan to build relevant tools to help in key areas of the product management process (market sizing, competitive analysis, etc) – our customer and prospects were very excited about our new direction.

In addition, we were also moving away from the “seven pillars” and working with a larger set or processes, best practices from many consulting groups such as 280 Group and very interesting conversations large consulting organizations such as PWc. Within only a few months, we had more than 20 strategic and local partners that were beginning to help us with our business.

 

Sales & Marketing

Before I joined Ryma, the marketing messaging was confusing at best. Web site traffic was very low compared to our competitors; there was no sales funnel and even worse, not a well designed and managed sales process or lead generation program. Almost, everything had to be rebuilt. Within a few months, we had a fully functional lead generation, nurturing and sales process that was bringing a very good amount of opportunities in the sales funnel.

Sadly, without the new tools being developed (Document Center was only released in late April), the product still suffered many issues and was not helping us close the deals as quickly as we needed to. In addition, some of the deals with key accounts were taking much longer than anticipated to get closed. When days and weeks are key to your survival, this was not a good thing.

The funding that came too late

With revenues from sales not coming as quickly as needed and new deals talking longer to close, we had been talking to several investment groups in order to get some funding in order to prove that our newest business model, product strategy and the execution of it all was on the right path. Sadly enough, this came too late and our largest creditor forced us into receivership. The majority of the employees were terminated, including the entire executive team. Only a few people were kept in order to provide basic support as well as helping the creditor to find a suitable buyer for the assets. Now that the assets have been sold (I will let them make any announcements if they desire to do so), I am capable of commenting on what happened with Ryma – hopefully this gives everyone a better understanding of the situation.

The future

From the looks of it, I do not believe I will be personally involved with the new owner of the assets of Ryma. I am proud of what we were able to do within the last 6 months of the company and I am very proud of everyone that worked with me in trying to turn the company around. Close but no cigar as they say. I definitively believe that we had the right plan and I wonder if I will get another chance to build the kind of tools I want to build for product managers and business executives.  If anything happens, I am sure that the readers of my blogs will be the first ones to know…

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9 responses to “The Fall of Ryma Technology Solutions”

  1. Eric Doner says :

    Well stated Michel. Thanks for the insight. It’s not often one hears/reads a post-mortem briefing on the demise of a company. Thanks too, for listing all your partners! It was great to have a chance to work with you and your team.

    • michelbesner says :

      My pleasure Eric, wished we could have worked longer on this great venture … all the best !

  2. Bruce McCarthy (@d8a_driven) says :

    Thanks for being public about this, Michel, and for posting a link on by blog at http://www.userdriven.org/blog/rip-ryma-what-went-wrong.html so readers can follow up. Your frank assessment of the situation and what did and didn’t work is a great service to the PM and business communities.

  3. valworkmanl says :

    I enjoyed working with you. Wish you the best going forward.

  4. Shahir Guindi says :

    Michel,

    A very open description of, I’m sure, a very unsatisfying and yet valuable experience. Kudos to you for the great progress that was made and for being so open about the end. A testament to your leadership and abilities. Your readers might benefit from your views on what, if anything, you could have done differently to allow this company to survive and thrive. Thank you.

    • michelbesner says :

      Thank you Shahir for those kind words … much appreciated.
      Indeed, I should write a follow-up blog post on I could have done differently … stay tuned.

  5. Jennifer Cambern says :

    Thanks Michel for sharing your story. We’ve all had an experience in the past that points to ‘Business decisions ‘done’ too late’ and it is great of you to share it especially in light of the very limited information that RYMA’s current backers have selected to share. For those of us who are affiliated with clients, of RYMA the lack of story creates a ‘whole new’ story of its own.
    Its my experience having closed a business for H&R Block, that we aren’t able to clearly see what action we might have changed for a period of time and it is very nice of you to share your current view points.

  6. Jean-Marc Naud says :

    Michel, thx for the story of Ryma’s challenges. It reminds us of how important it is to communicate with the market and care to their basic but critical needs and wants. You tried but when time is critically limited it makes things much more challenging. Like you I think the Product Management space is in need of new tools. Product Management is at the core of product businesses so should be the tools. Good luck for the future.

  7. G. Gillen says :

    Thanks for the insight Michel. Am I the only person who sees incredibly irony in this situation?

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