Consulting that Focuses on the Individual

AUDIO – Bruce Ballengee, CEO, joins Kevin Price, radio show host of Price of Business, and contributor, Charles Alvarez as they discuss how Pariveda Solutions is a consulting firm that focuses on the individual. (10:00)

Transcription of Audio Recording

Kevin: Welcome back, this is already the final segment of today’s Price of Business. I am your host, Kevin Price, talking to you about you and your business troubles. Charles Alvarez, he’s a regular contributor on The Price of Business. 

Charles: Well, Kevin, always good to be on this show with you. We work with business owners to increase percent without the business owner having to work more than 40 or 45 hours, and really, what we look to do is get a business to get to the point where the business owner has created an asset vs. a liability. And one of the best business owners that we’ve come across here in recent memory is Bruce Ballengee. Bruce, welcome to the show. 

Bruce: Thank you, Charles.

Kevin: Bruce, start with your company, tell us a little about it and its history. And welcome to the show.

Bruce: Well, thanks, Kevin. Our company’s called Pariveda Solutions. We started just a little over 12 years ago, right at the tail end of the tech wreck as we like to call it when everybody in our industry was shrinking, shrinking violets. And we set out, and we said, “We’re gonna be a new company, and we’re gonna try to do some things that companies haven’t tried in our space before.” And our basic mission in terms of the client is solving their most difficult business technology problems.

Kevin: There you go. Charles, your question?

Charles: So, can you give us an example or can you kind of tell us about, like, what challenges you’re facing and how your company specifically addresses and overcomes those challenges? 

Bruce: Sure, absolutely. You know, people are really not meant to be with technology. We’ve invented it, but it’s not really our element and that’s certainly true in business. And more and more, as technology becomes so important to business and society, it’s just showing up everywhere. It’s really the nature of so many of the problems that businesses face today. You know, just an example from some years ago that’s very particular to Houston, is we had a client who had a fleet of tankers and, you know, day rates on tankers run anywhere from $20,000 to $30,000 a day, it’s pretty important where that tanker’s gonna go to pick up a load. And they were experiencing a challenge. It took them an entire day for one person to schedule the entire tanker fleet. They needed to schedule it every day in order to maximize their revenue and their income. And they’d be taking phone calls and faxes throughout the day, you know, “Well, could you do this? Could pick up this load here? Can you drop off 64,000 gallons there?” or whatever, and they were just being overwhelmed. It was a real constraint on their growth. And they said, “You know, maybe we can automate this and do this much more quickly.” And it was a classic kind of relationship for us. It was a referral from one of their trusted associates who said, “You know, you ought to call Pariveda Solutions, and they can probably help you,” because they’d never heard of us before, and so they did. And as we got into it, we said, “You know, you can’t really solve this problem with using traditional kind of programming techniques or traditional techniques of decision-making. It really requires what, back then, we called artificial intelligence, and, today, what people call predictive analytics.” You know, the names are always changing in terms of the jargon. And they were very skeptical about that. You know, I’ve got old gentlemen who came up as captains and they own tankers now and this is their tanker fleet, and they don’t really believe in technology like that, this just sounds really, just bizarre. So I said, “Look, we’ll just do it on speculation. We’ll do a proof of concept in two weeks to show you what can be done.” And they said, “Okay, I think I can convince the board to do that, right, if you’re gonna take that chance with us.” I said, “Sure thing.” 

And so we did, and in two weeks we gave ’em a very advanced predictive analytic engine that could schedule their entire tanker fleet in under 15 seconds, so that ultimately went to production. It took a couple of months to get it to, you know, go to a production version. And the very first month that they were in operation, they increased their revenue 20% because now, when a phone call came in, they could literally, while they were on the phone call, decide whether or not to accept that deal or not, in terms of maximizing the profit on that $20 to $30,000 a day tanker.

Kevin: So the technology literally enabled them to determine what, you know, the advantages, the cost advantages, the problems that they would face, they could actually spec that out in advance without it being…sounds like it was almost Vegas before.

Bruce: Well, they had a fantastic model. They knew exactly what it took to be profitable, but it took all day to do the calculations.

Kevin: Yeah, and so now you got it done in seconds or at least minutes.

Bruce: Fifteen seconds.

Kevin: Yeah, that’s amazing. Go ahead, Charles.

Charles: Bruce, kinda give us an idea of what, you know, one of our listeners might do. Walk me through the process of solving their business issues.

Bruce: Well, let me frame this first by saying…and I love this quote, it’s just kinda, “85% of our business is repeat or referral plus or minus 2% at any given year. So 85% referral and repeat, which means we’re very much a face-to-face, engage with you as a client type organization. That’s kind of where it starts. So it can be we’re engaged in a conversation with you and you’re bringing up your issues as you view them, your opportunities and problems and we speak to those. We have experience, we understand technology, we understand the industry, and we’re able to say, “Hey, have you thought about this. Have you thought about that?” And those are usually the most fruitful conversations that lead to, you know, long-term relationships.

Kevin: And it sounds like, yes, that’s what you guys are about every single day. By the way, give them your website. I don’t think we’ve done that yet. I want to make sure we do that. 

Bruce: So we’re

Kevin: All right, Charles, got about a minute left. Why don’t you wrap it up with another question for us? 

Charles: My last question would be it sounds like what you do is more custom development. And there are a lot of listeners that might say, “Wow, anytime I hear the word ‘custom’ or ‘tailored,’ that kind of connotates expensive” You certainly gave an example of where you not only probably saved them gobs of amount of time and increased their productivity exponentially, but also increased revenue 20%. What would you say to those people out there that are concerned about the word ‘custom’ or ‘tailored’ or kind of ‘non-traditional technology’? What would you do to alleviate some of their perceived risks in that wording? 

Bruce: So, it’s very true that all IT work is fraught with risk, and frankly, all business projects are fraught with risk, and IT is no different. Custom’s really not much different than let’s say the alternative would be a package implementation. With custom, you have the opportunity, though, to zero in on precisely the nature of the problem or the opportunity and not have all the baggage that you have with the off-the-shelf software. Typically, when you’re buying off-the-shelf software, it’s targeted to a large audience. They’re trying to get to a large install base, which generally means 80% of that functionality you don’t have any use for. So custom allows you the opportunity to target the 20%. Now, not everybody can do that, but that’s our specialty. We’re very good at zeroing in on that, and in our experience, we’ve been able to save any number of clients a considerable amount of money by doing things very economically. 

Just to give you an example, here again in Houston, with the Children’s Museum of Houston, we have a summer intern projects that we do each year where we, you know, basically give out services away. And the museum had a multi-million dollar, multi-year vision of what it was gonna take to create an interactive application for home and in-museum use for children and their families. I said, “Okay, well, we’ll let you do a prototype with our summer interns. Twelve weeks, six students, you know, juniors, a couple of our more experienced people,” so you can imagine it was relatively economical, we were giving it all away. And that system is, essentially, the live system now. That gives you some idea; we can cut the costs by 90%. 

Kevin: Bruce and Charles, thanks very much, interesting information and encourage the listener to learn more, and that was a great segment. Thanks, gentlemen. Appreciate it.

Charles: Thank you.

Bruce: Thank you.

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