An Interview With Mark Rubenstein – Co-founder of Pagus.io, LLC


Robert: So Pagus has a unique business model for a print vendor. Why do you focus on low volume mailers while all your competitors are driven by high volume?

Mark: Well, this is a model that we’ve been developing for the last 20 years. The Collection Industry, which has been our focus for the last 4 years, provided an ideal platform to perfect it.   When we started back in 1999, it was difficult to compete with the incumbent printers since no one knew who we were. By default, we looked for and took on customers that couldn’t find print venders to outsource to because they were too small. For a startup this turned out to be a great strategy because our larger and more entrenched competitors didn’t compete with us at this end of the market. Larger companies need larger customers to move the revenue needle.

 

Robert: Sounds like a disruptive market strategy. Is this the reason for your success?

Mark: It was a large part it.  When you don’t have to worry about competitors at every turn, it definitely gave us an opportunity to build on something. We learned that these same customers had very different problems to solve. And solving them required a different approach. For the same reason our competitors couldn’t afford to focus on customers too small, we had to be smarter in our approach to service them profitably.  Our success however, is based on the technology strategy.  We deliver “mass customization” -which is really creating the same technology solutions that were offered to customers magnitudes the size of ours by our competitors and creating product offerings that our customers could use and pay for as they needed it. In essence we were providing access to technology and making it affordable.

 

Robert: Mass customization? Tell me more about that.

When you think about disrupting a market, it really means entering a space that is naturally being vacated. The challenge is finding that space and finding strategic ways to serve customers that competitors aren’t looking for, customers not worth fighting for, and customers quite frankly, they’re kind of happy to get rid of.

With all the print horsepower out there from some of these large printers, I don’t think the collection industry needed just another print vendor. And we definitely knew from experience, that we didn’t want to be that. Our plan focuses on 1 thing- building a process of dependable innovation that continuously solves problems, delights customers, and improves their outsourcing experience. The strategy of “mass customization” allows customers to access the same technology offered by these large printers and offer it more affordably.

Robert: What are you customizing?

Mark: Haha. A lot. But collection letters are really at the core of the offering.

 

Robert: Don’t your competitors do that? What’s so unique about customizing a letter?

Well customizing a letter really isn’t and it goes back to what Pagus does- finding problems that need to be solved  and finding the “jobs that need to get done” and do them better. This is and always has been part of our DNA. The biggest problem that needed to be solved for the attorneys and collection companies we serve with smaller mailing volumes was the problem of TIME. In other words, providing enough attention to customers to get this job done faster. Getting it done right. And repeating it consistently. You know Rob, how many proverbs are written about “lost time”. It’s our clients’ most precious resource. We can all agree that it is and always has been in short supply.

Robert: So I have this vision of hundreds of little elves running around your shop serving customers to create the magic but I know there’s something more here.

Mark: So funny. I was checking in on a new client that said the same thing about the elves. But I can assure you, there’s no magic in problem solving. It’s about focus, listening to your prospects, the hard work that goes into building the process, and executing all of it to support our customers for the long-term.

We have a long history of document management, specifically focusing on managing content within a document, and a workflow that executes the document creation and delivery processes. Hundreds of little elves are expensive, and they have to sleep you know.

 

Robert: This is true. Well you know this industry is going to be dealing with a lot of changes this year with the new FDCPA rulings.  Letter content will definitely be affected. With your focus on content management, this may not be a big deal for your customers.

Mark: We’re really not overly concerned about delivering the outcome our customers are looking for. We’ve seen some of the content requirements and formatting suggestions. It’s still pretty fluid. Like our document template. But we’re ready.

 

Robert: You mean the letter templates your customers use?

Mark: I mean THE template that all our customers use. There’s a difference. And the Pagus differentiator actually. We use what we call a Fluid Template that’s born from the idea of “mass customization”.  Rob, we have a lot of customers that have very extensive letter libraries. To manage thousands of individual letter templates is unthinkable in the world we live in.

 

Robert: Wow. What is a Fluid Template? That’s sounds interesting.

Mark: Interesting? I guess. But for the collection world, it’s definitely pretty powerful. This template concept was originally designed with speed in mind-solving the problem of time as we already talked about.  But the collection world has equally important problems to solve – and that’s staying compliant.

So when you look at the total scope of this “problem to solve”, our focus shifts from managing a client’s individual letters, to managing a client’s letter library. Its really not until you make this shift in thinking, can you really attack this problem.  We can make letter changes and set up new letters faster then anyone, but IF they’re not 1,000 % accurate, it doesn’t mean anything.

 

When you deconstruct a letter and break it down into its core components, you have pieces of content. Content like letterhead, a debtor address, a debt summary, a letter body, regulatory content, and state disclosures. What you also have is a lot of content that’s shared between letters- for example, letterhead and state disclosures- every letter has them. You also have content that’s shared across specific letter types like an Initial Demand, an Intent to Deposit, or Settlement. These letter types might vary slightly from client to client, but for the most part, they’re the same.

So by cataloging the pieces of content, whether they’re unique or shared, the composition engine knows what pieces to grab and what holes to put them in based on the letter code. And this allows the one Fluid Template to handle all of a clients’ letters. Makes sense?

 

Robert: Mark, this makes complete sense. Kind of brilliant.

Mark: It was actually pretty obvious.  To be honest, this is where I see most of the industry’s problems lie and why so many collection attorneys wait so long for a letter change from some vendors. Some of our clients told us that they could wait weeks for some changes. Think about, let’s say a firm adds an attorney to a letterhead and has 100 letters under management. The thought of having to edit 100 letters is madness. It takes a lot of time. You can see it takes weeks for this. Pagus does this job in 1 minute and it’s the best example of how we solve the problem of “time”.

But when it comes to compliance, it’s even more significant. Leaving a new attorney off of a letter that was missed will be very different then leaving off a new piece of language required by the new FDCPA guidelines. That’s definitely gonna cost something.  So we manage the compliance language the same way.  If language is shared, every letter that is coded to get his language is updated. Not only is it done in a few minutes. It’s a job that get’s completed accurately. Obvious right?

Robert: Yea obvious to you. For this industry though looks like a gamechanger. So Pagus is on their way to disrupting the collection industry?

Mark: I hope so. Not to sound cliché, but it’s still about the lifetime value we create with our clients. With so many changes coming down the pike, we’re paying close attention to everything and focusing on making these important jobs seamless. There’s a lot to think about for us. Our goal is to give our clients one less thing to think about.