Apex Leaders takes a customized approach to match investors with precise-fit industry experts so they can quickly and confidently navigate investment opportunities. Since 2009, t hey have been enabling their clients to assemble a credible advisory team from a vast network of reliable sources.
As a company that appeals primarily to high end private equity firms, Apex Leaders has an innate understanding of the value that comes from providing responsive white glove service tailored to the needs of their clients. The company had gained a positive reputation for their personalized approach and attention to detail, but they felt that in this day and age, their clientele expected some sort of automated technological processes. At the time, clients would call or email Apex Leaders to launch new projects, review information, and schedule meetings. This led to a lot of back-and-forth between clients, advisors, and the Apex Leaders team, most of which could be automated to save time, improve communication, and reduce mistakes.
When they began to explore building a Web portal to expand their service offerings and address internal inefficiencies, the Apex Leaders team was acutely aware that they needed a system that provided an exemplary user experience that reinforced their brand identity and demonstrated their differentiation in the industry. It was also crucial that the product they ended up with would be adaptable and scalable to seamlessly accommodate anticipated future growth.
Starting from Square One
From the jump, the team at Apex Leaders had a strong idea of what they would need to make this project a success, but as a team with a non-technical background, translating the request to a successful deliverable proved more difficult than they anticipated. Over the course of two years, Apex Leaders tried to build this portal twice with two different Web Development shops, but both attempts were unable to provide the results they needed.
Having failed at developing this portal twice, Apex Leaders continued their search with the benefit of experience and was careful to seek out a development shop that could deliver on-time, on-budget, and with a high degree of quality. That eventually brought them to Ashopway Consultancy.
Apex Leaders approached our partnership with cautious optimism, opting for small phases of development so that we could build trust incrementally over time. This allowed us to iterate thoughtfully and build out the key technology in close collaboration with Apex Leaders, and once we’d established that foundation, we were able to transition into a more results-driven approach that makes our ongoing development quicker and more agile.
Apex Leaders has been using the Salesforce CRM platform since their inception in 2009. With their first development partner, they attempted to build upon Salesforce Communities templates, but eventually realized that this software could not provide the level of customization that they required, and their dev partners were only offering declarative editing, rather than building something flexible, scalable, and unique to their premium brand.
Heroku Connect was a platform that could sync directly with the data that Apex Leaders had accumulated in Salesforce, while also providing ample room for customization and growth. This made Ashopway Consultancy a perfect fit, having successfully developed over 300 Heroku applications in just under seven years.
We approached this project understanding that we needed to create a product that was unique to Apex Leaders and could translate their tailored “white glove” client experience into a digital format. To do this, we would have to create exactly what Apex Leaders needed with no caveats or workarounds. This meant accepting total ownership over the code and architecture.
In order to stay adaptable and truly own the product, it was obvious we had to use open source software that would allow us to write in code as opposed to just offering declarative edits. We used Ruby On Rails, which effortlessly integrates with Heroku.
The Big Sync
Our approach started by leveraging Heroku Connect to sync Apex Leaders’ considerable amount of data in Salesforce to a PostgreSQL database on Heroku, allowing us to expose any objects in Salesforce to the portal we were building on Heroku. We have used this architecture many times with other clients, so we were confident it would work in this situation.
Slick and Responsive
A Premium User Experience
The resulting product is one that empowers Apex Leaders’ clients to own their experience on the platform without losing the personal touch that they’ve come to expect from the Apex Leaders team.
Clients are now able to connect with potential advisors and set up meetings directly through the platform in a matter of seconds. Once a meeting has been scheduled by the client, a series of emails will be automatically triggered informing all necessary parties, including the Apex Leaders team.
Create a Network
Clients now have immediate access to a conveniently organized list of all the advisors they’ve made contact with. They can even assign personalized ratings and write notes about the advisors to help them keep track of past conversations. Most importantly, this new portal provides every client with a broad and comprehensive (and easily searchable) view of the network of advisors they’ve accrued, making it significantly easier for them to reference as they refine their advisory team.
The Advisor Side
The distinctly different, but equally as powerful, advisor side of the platform provides the same depth of experience and functionality, including allowing advisors to set their own availability and accept appointments in a matter of seconds.