Alex Whatley is the co-founder and CEO of Cresicor, the cloud-based, data-driven software platform for CPG brands looking to
elevate their trade promotion management (TPM), or their expenses of running
promotions and discounts.
The company raised $6.6 million in funding to date, and client brands include
category leaders like Perfect Snacks, Oatly, and Bulletproof. We sat down with
Alex to dive into:
- Cresicor’s growth roadmap, for the short and long term
- Two major TPM opportunities on the horizon for Cresicor
- Building an unknown startup’s user pool from zero to one
“We’re building a system for brands and their carriers to exchange payments
and other data seamlessly. It essentially means rebuilding the infrastructure
of an industry that still operates on PDFs, spreadsheets, and even snail
The Cresicor Journey & Growth Roadmap
As Alex recaps, Cresicor received over $5 million in seed funding about a year
ago — and since then, the team has grown from six to 40 members, they’ve
approximately tripled their revenue and user base, and they’re gearing up for
a Series A round.
In terms of how he anticipates growth to play out, short-term growth will
Continued upmarket movement in their current vertical of F&B CPG
Adding a fintech layer to enable brands to fully process payments from
Expansion into adjacent growing verticals like alcohol, cannabis, and pet
Meanwhile, longer-term growth looks like continuing to rebuild the
technological infrastructure of the CPG industry, which is broadly, in Alex’s
experience, antiquated and still reliant on static forms of communication.
In the case of Cresicor, the vision is to enable every CPG business to simply
and rapidly exchange payments and other data with their eCom partners, thus
eliminating the resource drain of the middleman, as well as indirectly
reducing COGS in stores.
“Most of the CPG ecosystem is ages behind the rest of eCom. They’re literally
downloading PDFs and manually moving data into spreadsheets. So we want to
help them keep up with present tech capabilities, as well as the eventual
Building Your User Pool, From Zero to One
As Alex tells it, Cresicor initially began as a part-time project during his
studies at Harvard.
The venture was bootstrapped for a number of years before they landed their
first legit CPG customer — and then the next 15 followed.
Establishing Credibility as an Unknown Player
When we asked how Cresicor was able to build their early customer base as a
student-run, relatively unknown player in the CPG space, Alex chalked it up to
the luck of securing their very first “marquee” client, Perfect Snacks.
To distill this idea, in Alex’s words, big names attract big names.
This explains why that initial connection with Perfect Snacks only led to more
interest from similarly successful brands in the space, like nutpods or Simple
Delivering on the Core Value Proposition
Alex also reiterated that no amount of industry connections could have grown
Cresicor’s user base if the core product was flawed or couldn’t deliver.
As such, the team has taken care to explicitly craft a two-pronged value prop:
- Refined visualization of live trade spend
- Increasingly accurate analytics tracking
Greater cost savings are significant given that trade is where CPG brands
reinvest roughly 20% of their revenue and it’s the second-highest expense for
Cresicor’s value prop can be boiled down to the reality that TPM is, in Alex’s
words, a gnarly process, usually entailing manual management of data from PDFs
and playing around in Excel.
As a result, brands view switching to a system like Cresicor — through which
they can simply enter accurate data, duplicate campaigns, process payments,
and more — as a no-brainer for saving notable time, labor, and lost capital.
Retaining Users Post-Acquisition
As for how to actually retain clients once they’ve been acquired, Alex pointed
to two best practices carried out by the Cresicor team.
Immediately after closing, the user works with the Cresicor implementation
team, which can get customers up and running in a matter of weeks, as
compared to other enterprise systems which can take upward of a year to
onboard and train new users.
After onboarding, Cresicor’s high-touch customer success team continues to
maintain contact with clients to teach best practices of TPM, while also
presenting quarterly reviews to highlight areas of success and for
In Alex’s words, offering best-in-class service is essential for Cresicor’s
retention of users, especially because a majority of business has stemmed from
“Big names truly do draw in more big names. So efforts like customer service
have paid dividends because all of our success so far has been due to positive
word of mouth. We’re just now starting outbound marketing efforts.”
Looking Forward: Opportunities on the Horizon
As for what’s on the horizon for Cresicor, Alex is most excited to continue
elevating the product by addressing two prevalent roadblocks for the average
CPG brand running promotions.
Phase one: deductions reconciliation
With the current state of the industry, brands are typically sent PDF invoices
from retailers which they have to sift through, line by line, in order to
ensure all charges are legitimate.
They’ll then either dispute or reconcile these payments — but the entire
process itself is unnecessarily cumbersome, as Alex describes it, yet still
necessary overall in order to avoid being overcharged by millions of dollars a
In response, the Cresicor team is building an end-to-end solution that can
replicate this work.
In terms of process, Cresicor will likely use a web scraper, ML-powered
programs for processing invoices, and automated matching and checking plus
submission of payment or dispute forms.
Ultimately, this module will save CPG companies the onerous time and effort of
manually processing these files, as well as significant capital by accurately
identifying invalid fees.
Phase two: sector forecasting
Meanwhile, the global supply chain shortage has uniquely stunted Cresicor’s
primary clientele of CPG businesses. Costs of ingredients have shot up,
distribution centers are understaffed, and brands across the board are facing
pressure to raise prices in response.
To address this confusion, Cresicor’s sales forecasting module will enable
brands to plan out their year to come, allowing businesses to consider, for
instance, how to address lag times along the pipeline or how many sales will
be made at retailers versus wholesalers.
Ultimately, with so much uncertainty in the market, the goal of the Cresicor
team is to ensure no business is caught off guard by fluctuating costs,
delays, or performance.
“We’re doubling down on both of these issues and responding with new and
improved functionality. I’m incredibly excited about it, especially if we can
help a brand evolve past trying to solve these complications in Excel.”