Martin Smithmeyer is the founder of Americord, a company which preserves stem cells collected at the time of birth on behalf of expectant parents, and which can later be used for treatment of diseases such as leukemia or auto-immune diseases in children.

In early 2015, Martin established a marketing relationship with one of the most popular apps for pregnant mothers. Through that relationship, Americord had exclusive rights to advertise to the users of that app. The relationship proved to be extremely successful for Americord and the company experienced an explosive growth in new sales leads, tripling their revenue from 2014.

The prolific success Americord was having with its advertising through the app leaked to one of Americord’s major competitors, who then sought to dramatically bid up the value of the contract and displace Americord’s exclusive arrangement. At the time, the vast majority of Americord’s business was being sourced through that single channel so losing the relationship represented a potential death-blow to the business.

The terms of the contract gave Americord a right to renew the contract in mid-2016, however the leadership of the app company began to play coy, and it was not clear if they would renew the agreement. Faced with the huge risk to his revenue stream and the uncertainty over the contract, Martin and their team were plunged into turmoil. In Martin’s words, “It was sheer panic. I knew they could tear us apart if they didn’t renew, but I couldn’t get into a contentious legal battle with them while we were still in contract. We had to wait, but the uncertainty was growing the closer we got to the renewal date.” Around this time, several key employees chose to leave the company including most of the marketing team.

With three months to go before the end of the contract, and no firm signal his partner would renew, Martin flew to visit the CEO of the partner company to force a decision. The CEO refused to meet Martin and made him wait 2 days before finally agreeing to meet. He then informed Martin they would not renew.

With only a 3-month window to replace the vast majority of his sales leads, Martin activated his management team to find ways to replace the revenue stream. In the words of his nominator, “He was traumatized, but suddenly his mindset changed. Instead of this happening to him, he turned it into an opportunity”.

Martin knew that he would need to apply all his resources to pivot the company. Based on his sound leadership the team rallied and together they brainstormed a series of initiatives they thought could diversify their sales channels and replace the lost revenue. They began to relentlessly execute a series of experiments to test new channels. They put together a portfolio of new partnership and sales channels, and build a direct line to their own community of customers. They focused on reducing cancellations, collecting cash flows faster and increasing conversion rates. Somewhat to their own surprise, almost all the initiatives worked. Instead of suffering what they expected would be a potentially devastating drop in revenue at the end of the contract, the new initiatives led to the business in fact doubling in size in 2016. The company is on track to double again in 2017.

Martin has distinguished himself by demonstrating incredible resilience in the face of challenging circumstances, and overcame a high prospect of failure to instead double the size of his company.