Fingerpaint’s breathlessly paced expansion continued Tuesday with the announcement that it has acquired North Carolina-based MedThink. The deal adds medical communications might to Fingerpaint’s burgeoning commercialization armamentarium.
While the usual caveats about cultural fit apply, the MedThink acquisition was primarily about reinforcing the overall company offering, according to Fingerpaint founder Ed Mitzen.
“Products are getting more complex and high-science, so we knew we needed to beef up our medcomms/medical education business,” he said. “It has definitely been a gap for us.”
MedThink fills that gap snugly. Composed of MedThink SciCom and MedThink Communications, the company has long been regarded as one of the agency world’s most forward-minded providers of medical education and related marketing services.
With its eyes on growth, it started feeling out potential partners earlier this year. Following an August dinner with Mitzen in North Carolina, MedThink president Scott Goudy knew he’d found an ideal match.
“There were three things for me: We were looking for a culture that’s people-focused, we wanted that commitment to excellence in the work and we wanted a strategic fit,” he recalled. “It’s all here. This is a great fit for us as an organization.”
The MedThink brand will be retained and Goudy will continue to lead day-to-day operations. No layoffs are anticipated.
The acquisition comes at the end of a frenzied two-year stretch for Fingerpaint. Last year, it snapped up market access specialist firm 1798 and launched cell and gene therapy consultancy Photo51. After it secured equity backing from private equity shop Knox Lane last December, Fingerpaint bought early-stage branding firm Leaderboard Branding in March and Splice Agency, a favorite of West Coast biotechs, in June.
Per the 2021 MM+M Agency 100, Fingerpaint generated $85 million in revenue in 2020, with Mitzen predicting that sum would increase to as much as $140 million in 2021. MedThink Communications generated $18.4 million in revenue during 2020, up 2% from the previous year, and counted 92 full-timers under its roofs.
The acquisition, terms of which were not disclosed, is already paying dividends. When Fingerpaint clients were given a courtesy heads-up on the deal earlier in the week, three immediately signed up for the enhanced medcomms offering, the agency reported.
“Leaderboard does naming and branding early in the commercialization cycle. So what we can do now is bring Scott’s group into the process right from the start — maybe even before clients know they need [medical communication support],” Mitzen said.
While Fingerpaint hasn’t identified targets – or if it has, the company isn’t revealing them — further growth via acquisition is likely. It doesn’t hurt that Fingerpaint has become skilled in the acquisition/integration game, for lack of a more elegant way to put it.
“We’ve spent a lot of time over the last two years or so trying to hone that operational background. So when companies like MedThink join us, we can handle all the culture, finance, HR and philanthropy stuff and let them focus on the work,” Mitzen explained, prompting a knowing nod from Goudy. “Scott knows this — you get to 100 people, there are different IT issues and you need different skill sets around the culture. We can take a lot of that off of them.”
Added Goudy, “The things I heard [from leaders of companies previously acquired by Fingerpaint] were that they really felt they had a voice in the organization and that their skill sets were counted on and valued.”
As for the aforementioned acquisition targets, Mitzen hinted that a more global offering could be in the cards.
“We’ll add best-in-class capabilities anywhere there’s a real client need and where we feel we can do right by patients,” he said. “We’re not trying to chase revenue. We just want to grow and take care of our people and stay true to our values — and have fun doing it.”