That’s because of a family business that made it big in technology.
According to Forbes, the number of billionaires in Utah increased from 1 in 2016 to 4 by the end of 2020
The interesting thing about this change was all three new billionaires belonged to the same family.
Ryan Smith is one of the founders of Qualtrics.
He’s been working on the technology to create an online research company for years.
“While he was attending Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Business, he founded Qualtrics with his father, and his brother, Jared Smith. During his junior year he dropped out of school to spend more time working on Qualtrics, though he eventually returned to school and finished his degree in 2016” Wikipedia
He was living in California doing his internship in 2002 and moved back home to be with his father because his father had cancer. Ryan decided to take a semester off.
His dad was working on the technology that was the beginning of Qualtrics. It’s something they did together while his father went through chemo. Eventually, they realized they had a product and started to look for customers.
They targeted academics first. Their first account was a professor at the Kellogg School of Management. Their next customer came through word of mouth referrals and before they knew it, they had many more academic customers.
Many of the first customers are still Qualtrics customers ten years later.
On the corporate side, it was a conference board, they did a national consumer confidence study using qualtrics and the rest is history.
They hired engineers to perfect the app.
It’s one of the classic stories of building a company in your parents’ basement, only in this case, Ryan was in a partnership with his father.
This company was created by Ryan and his dad as a way to help schools and companies gather feedback and data on students and customers using surveys.
In just a few short years, they hired several employees to help out with the expanding business. By 2004 they had twenty and there were so many vehicles parked on their street that the neighbors complained. Delivery trucks couldn’t make their way down the street and garbage trucks couldn’t pick up the trash.
After five years, the company was making more than a million dollars a year.
When Ryan realized he needed more help with the company, particularly in engineering, he asked his brother Jared to come on board.
Jared had been working at Google, building a large (180 people) product management team. With his proven engineering and management skills, he was exactly what the company needed.
The effect on Qualtrics was dramatic, with an estimated productivity increase of seven times what it was before he joined.
As a family business, they support their community. Qualtrics supports many local events such as the Silicon Slopes Utah conference. The event focuses on local companies as well as the region’s snowboarding and skiing opportunities.
Venture capital investors started to notice them in 2010 and began expressing an interest in investing in the company. Qualtrics wasn’t ready and turned them down, one after another.
Growth is tough. It’s tough to put a large purchase on debt and even though you know its the right thing to do. That’s why they eventually decided to go ahead with an investor.
Eventually, they accepted Accel Partners an investment firm that had been reaching out for three years, as well as investors Sequoia Capital.
Ryan is interviewed by the Startup.
“With 300 employees and no basement big enough to hold them, Qualtrics now has a ‘spared no expense’ headquarters in Utah whose culture, perks, and creative design would go toe-to-toe with anything you find in Silicon Valley.” Techcrunch
Qualtrics’ approach is based on managing the experience of customers by seeking feedback.
They analyze every part of the customer experience, from the moment they make contact with a company to the last. The intent is to improve loyalty and increase referrals.
Right now, that’s important in our social media driven environment. People online have more power than ever before.
The other unusual factor for Qualtrics is that it’s family-driven and located far away from the traditional location for an American tech industry.
They are active in their community and support many initiatives there.
This is good news for Provo, Utah.
It's a welcoming city. In fact, the motto on their website states "Welcome Home." That's one reason why this family business has remained in the city.
Provo is ranked the #2 GREATEST PLACE TO LIVE IN AMERICA
"Provo City is ranked as the #2 greatest place to live in America! So what makes a best town ever? According to Outside Magazine – access to trails, rivers, mountains, and lakes, healthy eating, bike lanes, and green space are some of the main factors. Provo has all of these factors and more." Visit the city website for more rankings.