How Rivet Software stayed true to its vision throughout hardship

by Meghan Mahar
May 8, 2014

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No other startup has endured a business journey quite like Rivet Software. In 2003, Mike Rohan founded Rivet Software in Denver, ready to change the world of financial reporting. He wanted to build innovative software that simplified the integration of reporting tools into accounting systems. His solution, however, turned into an entreprenuerial journey full of struggle and despair, making faith in his vision both imperative and empowering.

It’s been 11 years now since Rivet opened its doors – 11 years full of CEO changes, partnerships gone wrong and even the death of founder Mike Rohan. But Rivet Software never went down and never stopped fighting. Thanks to Madeline Rohan (Mike’s wife and Rivet's current CEO), her new management team and other hardworking Rivet employees, this financial reporting company is ready for round two. They’ve emerged from the storm with an innovative product, a growing user base and a high-growth plan. This time the way the founder intended.  

Standing strong through troublesome times

Mike Rohan started out as a CPA and was one of the pioneers of XBRL (eXtensible Business Reporting Language). He knew how complex the process of filing reports through financial printers could be and the benefit of using XBRL to automate this process. So with new technology and a vision in place, Rivet Software created their first product, Crossfire, and ventured out with a solution to the way companies create and consume financial data. What he may not have anticipated, though, was just how strong financial printers wanted to protect their services revenue and the old way of working. In 2009, the SEC mandated XBRL as the necessary language for filing financial reports, requiring the industry to embrace this technology, and financial printers started to panic. Rivet Software became the way of the future.

Soon after, though, Mike needed to step down as CEO for personal reasons, and one of the top financial printers in the industry stepped in as a partner. With a big name partner in place and a new executive team, Rivet Software lost focus of their vision. According to Madelaine Rohan, “Rivet was no longer a software company but a services provider for the SEC Compliance market with the objective to ‘help the new partner preserve its source of revenue’ instead of adhering to my husband’s main objective of ‘making the life of the user easier.’ Innovation was put aside and all efforts to improve the Crossfire product to further streamline the old ways of doing business were crushed.”

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So her husband returned to refocus the company and refute the partnership’s input. He faced strong criticism for severing ties with such a financially strong partner and the company went through a series of layoffs in May 2012. But Mike managed to keep Rivet Software and their vision afloat until July of 2013 when he passed away. His vision had become his swan song. That’s when his wife Madelaine stepped in as CEO.

Re-emerging after a storm

Even though Rivet Company was never going out of business, rumors of the company’s viability began to surface. Madelaine, however, still believed in her husband’s vision. She still believed in their innovation and dedication to the user, so instead of selling the company, she decided to rebuild it.  

“When I took over the management of the company, it was still suffering from bad business decisions made during the Rivet’s Services era,” she said. “I found that the company had been mismanaged at all levels with little accountability of those in charge at the time. Basically the fundamentals of running a business had been lost through those years when my husband had been absent.”

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So she restructured the company with “trustworthy, loyal, hard-working and committed professionals with proven records in the industry” including Scott Calvert (COO), Frode Rognstad (CTO), Jeston Moran (VP of Professional Services), and TJ Tanberg (VP of Sales and Marketing). They, too, believed in the company’s vision to make Crossfire the preeminent financial communication solution for internal and external reporting in the world with the objective to make the life of the user easier.

By the end of 2013, their belief in the vision brought the Rivet Software team together and helped eliminate most of their challenges. They retained their client base, earned customer satisfaction ratings above 90%, and ended the year with positive cash flow.

Poised again for success

Madelaine Rohan has only been CEO for nine months, but the dedication and commitment of her and her Rivet employees (or Riveteers as she calls them) has brought them back into the light.  They sit 67 employees strong and are looking to grow both their internal staff and customer base.

“Our current goals are to capitalize on the entire Crossfire platform because Crossfire is not a product or a solution but a platform full of solutions that targets the SEC Compliance market as well as internal reporting,” Madelaine said. “We will also continue to be customer-focused and to nurture and support our partners through agreements that make mutual sense and that do not derail us from the company’s vision.”

In 2014, they’re looking to increase their market share to 20 percent, grow their 2,000 user base by 100 percent and take Rivet global. There is an increased demand for Crossfire in the market, and “Crossfire’s ability to link data from a source accounting system, not only to SEC Filings, but to PowerPoint and to Word presentations, adds tremendous value to other departments for our client base,” according to Madelaine.

Financial printers in the industry now sign with Rivet Software as their SEC Compliance solution of choice in order to join the vision, rather than exploit it. Vintage, for example, just signed with Rivet Software “to provide our customers with the complete package in their report filing experience. Our clients now have the ability to leverage our partnerships for a ‘True End to End’ solution with the addition of Print, Typesetting, Virtual Data Rooms, Investor Relations and much more.”

“I don’t know anyone that would have had the guts or the integrity to change the focus of a company that was already bringing in millions of dollars in revenue. But my husband was a visionary and a technologist, and his passion was always on the user’s side,” said Madelaine. The guts of Mike Rohan, the perseverance of Madelaine Rohan, and the hard-work of the Rivet team made Rivet Software successful in more than just revenue.

“Today, our product is the solution of choice in the SEC industry, our customers are happier than ever, our partners trust us, and our staff believes in our direction.”

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