Case Study: Pulp Studios Inc.

Posted 26 August by Blaine Bertsch in Case Studies

Pulp Studios Inc. is a boutique illustration and animation company based in Edmonton, Canada. Led by partners, Corey Lansdell and Kelly Mellings, Pulp is a highly creative work environment but can struggle at times with managing day-to-day operations.

it’s just so much more accessible for me now and I feel like it’s giving me the ability and capacity to really look at this stuff… and I know where the company needs to go.

The struggle to manage their cash flow was only intensified with the difficulty in establishing effective communication about operational matters between the partners.

Lansdell, a talented illustrator and ‘creative’ at heart, took the reins in managing the numbers side of the business. Before using Dryrun, Lansdell explains “we were very reactive. We quite honestly had no idea how to manage cash flow.” The situation inevitably led to some stressful days and serious challenges.

As a partner in a service company, Lansdell is all too familiar with highly irregular cash flow. “The whole ‘variable income thing’ as a service business is… torture. You always feel like “we gotta do this, we gotta chase that, we gotta take on all kinds of work” he explains. “We need money by the end of this week…Ok, we gotta figure this out.”

Dryrun takes a lot of the mystery and anxiety out of the numbers…it’s been fantastic.

Although Lansdell has a spreadsheet provided by his accountant, he admits that it’s an “in-the-moment” kind of snapshot… “it’s not easy for me to wrap my head around.” Worse, Lansdell was the only one spending time in the spreadsheet. With deadlines constantly looming, he struggled mightily in explaining the issues to his partner Mellings. “He didn’t really know what the heck I was saying” says Lansdell.

Lansdell recognized that their present system “was very detrimental to the potential development or growth of the business” so he was eager to try Dryrun. He was attracted to Dryrun right away because “it looked really accessible” and he recognized that it could be “really valuable from a communications perspective internally.”

That’s not to say using Dryrun was a slam-dunk. “I’m apprehensive about taking on, or changing processes around,” says Lansdell, “especially around money and budgeting issues because that’s not where my background is.” But after a short time using Dryrun “it happened really quick that I could see that value,” he says.

How Dryrun Transformed their Cash Flow Forecasting

Lansdell says Dryrun really helped him communicate clearly with his partner where they were at and where they needed to be in projects if they were going to be able to bill on time and get revenue in as planned. Instead of his creative partner being daunted by all the “abstract numbers” Lansdell was throwing at him, Mellings found that Dryrun gave him motivation and clarity about what needed to be done on a day-to-day basis to get to where they need to be. “Dryrun takes a lot of the mystery and anxiety out of the numbers…it’s been fantastic,” says Lansdell.

Lansdell adds that he is using Dryrun in a really simple way and has not yet tapped into a lot of the functions of the software. Within a week, Lansdell says he was up and running and thinking “Oh wow, this is so cool! I got really excited because I could see the numbers and do different scenarios and project different possible outcomes,” he says.

Lansdell said it was super easy to get started. He took the spreadsheet from his accountant with all the recurring expenses for the year and just entered the numbers in the categories and then added payables and receivables. From there, Lansdell worked off those basic numbers to drive out “all kinds of different pictures of what the company might look like five or six months down the road,” he says.

Lansdell says the effect Dryrun has had on Pulp is substantial. “It’s such a clear picture of how our day-to-day actions and how our productivity affects our bottom line,” he says.” Every couple of weeks, he uses Dryrun to update their cash flow. “Now that I have the baseline, I just go in and duplicate the model and make edits…it’s quick,” he says. “It’s like….ok, are we gonna be done this early or maybe done this late? I’ll just shift income around based on those things. So that’s how I use it on a day-to-day basis,” he says.

“It’s almost like working with play dough in a way,” Lansdell says. “What if I make this a little bit bigger? …make that a little but smaller? Kind of like manipulating things, pushing stuff here and there, so… I mean, it’s not daunting in any way – it’s fun and not at all frustrating,” he says.

Lansdell recommends Dryrun to other small business owners, based on his own experience.
“It’s lifted a lot of anxiety and stress from trying to understand and manage the numbers,” he says, “it’s just so much more accessible for me now and I feel like it’s giving me the ability and capacity to really look at this stuff… and I know where the company needs to go.”

When you understand the numbers it is easy to step back and look at the numbers from an objective perspective rather than an emotional perspective and, for me, being a creative guy and starting a business with a close friend …that was really important. Dryrun helped us do that,” says Lansdell.

Lansdell says when they started using Dryrun, “things were not going well. We had a really rough financial year. It was fortuitous that Dryrun came into the picture at that time because it lifted a cloud of confusion.”

“I feel like I’m smart with numbers now. Now, I understand how this all works,” he says.

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