The $8 billion dollar software you’ve never heard of

A while back I saw a Q&A on CNN with today’s guest, Ryan Smith, where he was asked, “What’s the most important company we’ve never heard of?” His answer was Qualtrics.

And I’ve thought about this company several times since I saw that.

Well, I finally got an opportunity to interview that founder. Ryan Smith is the co-founder of Qualtrics. A lot of articles describe them as a survey company, but I bet he does not see himself as a survey company.

I’m going to ask him how he went from starting this company in his dad’s house back in 2002 and selling it to SAP in 2018.

Ryan Smith

Ryan Smith


Ryan Smith is the founder of Qualtrics, an experience management platform.


Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses, and I do it for an audience of entrepreneurs who are building their businesses while listening to these interviews.

There is an old CNN . . . I can’t even tell how old because CNN takes the dates off of some of their old articles. There’s an old Q&A with today’s guests, Ryan Smith, where he was asked, “What’s the most important company we’ve never heard of?” And his answer was Qualtrics. And I think about how he must have been back then, a guy who was building a company that’s growing bigger and bigger and bigger. And I’ve got to tell you, I don’t remember seeing him on TechCrunch. I don’t remember seeing Qualtrics on the cover of business magazines and discussed. I don’t remember him kicking up a firestorm.

The only reason that I heard about Qualtrics and Ryan Smith is because there are people from Utah, including this guy, Logan Rogers, who came in here for what I call scotch night, but I know he only drank water, he’s not a scotch drinker, who told me, “There’s this great entrepreneur. He’s doing amazing things, creating a unicorn in Utah.”

Anyway, I finally got an opportunity to interview him. Ryan Smith is here. He is the co-founder of Qualtrics. A lot of articles describe them as a . . . what was the phrase, it’s a survey company, but I bet he does not see himself as a survey company. His team, before we got started, said, “We are the leaders in experience management.” That is what they do, experience management. I’m going to ask him what that means, how you build a software company on that and how he went from starting this company in his dad’s house back in 2002 and selling it to SAP for . . . well, we’ll find out in 2018.

All right, we can do that thanks to two phenomenal sponsors. The first is a company that helps me close so many sales. I’ve got to introduced you people to ClickFunnels. And the second if you’re doing email marketing, you should check out ActiveCampaign. Ryan, welcome.

Ryan: Hey, thanks. It’s great to be here.

Andrew: What do you sell to SAP for? How much?

Ryan: We sold . . . well, we had to charge him something to give him the tenth with us. And I’d like to say we just decided to go public a different way. But the price was a $8 billion.

Andrew: Eight billion dollars. And you had already filed to go public, which gives me a lot of data by the way. I’ve got your S1 here in front of me. You know what, in another article, someone asked you a random question, “What do you have on your home screen?” And you said, I think it was like a Turkish bill? Is that what it was?

Ryan: Oh, yeah. Someone once came and put a $5 billion bill on my desk once, and so I just put it at like the corner of my screen. And it’s been there for like five years.

Andrew: Why?

Ryan: I don’t know. I just never seen a bill that had that many zeros behind it. And so it kind of became this idea of like, “Hey, that’s something tangible to aim for.” And, you know, that was the path we were on.

Andrew: Like we’re going to be a $5-billion company. That’s the thing. That’s what you kept on your screen to remind you.

Ryan: Well, I kept saying that to people early on. And so someone came and brought that to me and said, “Hey, here’s a $5 billion bill or something that . . . I was like, “Wow, that’s a lot of zeros. That’s what it looks like. Hey, that’s what it should look like.”

Andrew: Does that work? Was it motivating? Did it keep you a little bit focused on how big a company you want to create?

Ryan: No. I mean, I think there’s things to shoot for. But you know, I didn’t wake up every day and be like, “Oh, it’s got to be $5 billion,” or, “It’s got to be this.” I mean that’s pretty hollow and shallow it seems. I think we had some very strong fundamental principles of how we were going to build and grow. And if we did that and we stuck to our guns, I felt like we could get there. And, you know, the story of Qualtrics wasn’t something that a lot of people saw. They didn’t see it coming. It was probably a story of what I would call tipping points in the journey. You know, everyone thinks that there’s all these tipping points around each corner. Once we raises funding around or once we get on CNBC, everything’s going to tip.

None of that happened. It was literally signing customers up one by one, treating them great. And, you know, the next thing you know you’ve got 10,000 brands out there who are all using your product, and they add up to a lot, and they’re expanding, and they’re growing, and they like what you do, and they like your swagger. So that’s how Qualtrics happened.

Andrew: So on my screen is the earliest version of Qualtrics that I could find, your old homepage. I want to go through that. I want to go through how you found your customers. I even want to go back in time and ask you why and how your mom helped you get started in sales. But why don’t we just understand what Qualtrics is. I asked you before we got started, if you have a use case of somebody who had a problem who came to Qualtrics and how Qualtrics help them solve it.

Ryan: Yeah. So we work with 10,000 brands out there. And we’re an experience management company. I think it’s pretty clear that we started in surveys in the academic market. So that’s what, you know, a million academics a year know us as. But our number one use case in Qualtrics is powering customer experience programs. So we have 160,000 different NPS programs that are run on Qualtrics. So it doesn’t matter which airline you fly on. There’s 13 different airlines in Asia Pacific alone that are running all of their post-trip feedback. And what we’re doing is we’re trying to allow brands to be able to communicate at scale, or have a conversation at scale, about the experiences they’re providing in as real-time as possible, and let them take action.

Andrew: Wait. So after a flight, I might get asked by the airline, “How was this experience for you?” that is your software that’s sending that out, and your software does what other than just surveying?

Ryan: Yes. So it gathers the feedback and that might be in a thumbs up, thumbs down. It might be in a text message. We can gather that data 13 different ways. You know, I would say about half of it is done through a survey. The other half has done it through text and other programs. And I think it’s slowly moving away more into the tech side and in different vehicles.

And then our system analyzes it all. We know if someone has given feedback positively or negatively over time, and then we can drive an action. So if someone’s really important to you, or they’re a medallion customer, or a diamond customer, how do you actually follow up with them differently?

And by the way, how do they want to speak with you? It’s easy to measure experience when it’s one to one. It’s hard to measure experience when it’s one too many. And we do all the customer, we do all the employee-experience, so the second use case on Qualtrics and the number two use cases all around the internal. So we power the largest employee experience programs in the world. We’re in a situation where most companies’ biggest threat right now was on the internal employee-side, not on what . . .

Andrew: Many people leaving or not caring.

Ryan: Yeah, people leaving, how to have engaged employees. You know, in the Bay Area, someone goes to lunch and comes back with a new job. It’s average 10 years 18 months, so how do you build a strong team.

Andrew: It’s not just sending out the question, getting the data back, but also saying, “Here’s what you do with it for this specific person who filled out.”

Ryan: Our system is extremely predictive. So it can look at data and say, “Hey, look, you know, you’ve got 13 different points where you’ve got a problem, but actually, these two are the most important. And you should drive action.”

Andrew: You were going to go public, so I’ve got the data here in front of me. Do you remember what your 2016 overall revenue was versus 2017?

Ryan: Why don’t you just say it.

Andrew: 2016, $190 million in revenue. 2017, a year later, $290 million in revenue. Phenomenal growth. Does that sound right? Am I misreading this S1?

Ryan: No, that’s right. And we’ve sped up since then. So that’s the exciting part.

Andrew: Let’s go back in time and get to know you before Qualtrics. I heard that your mom dropped you and your siblings in the city, and she said, “Don’t come home without a job.” Is that right?

Ryan: Yeah. We’re in downtown Provo. My mother, who’s in academic, you know, she’s a PhD and always believed in kind of hard work, didn’t want us just hanging around all summer long, basically saying, “Hey, the summer is not going to go like this. And you guys all need to work, and you need to earn your school clothes.” And so she dropped us off. And, you know, one of my brothers who I started Qualtrics with, who went to Google, worked at a dry cleaner, And so the other brother saw if he could work at the other dry cleaner, and then I ended up working at a horse farm and then switched over to the golf course. But, you know, we were 12 and 13, and that’s kind of how it went.

The story gets a little more interesting because the one brother who worked at the dry cleaner ended up turning the dry-cleaner into a bike shop and owning the bike shop. And, you know, I think our parents were ruthless when it came to making us go work and get out in the world. But I look back and I’m pretty grateful for their example of just going to work and getting it done.

Andrew: Two academics. Wasn’t your dad a professor at Brigham Young?

Ryan: Yeah, he was.

Andrew: So why did two academics want so badly for their kids to go get a job? What were they trying to do?

Ryan: Really, it was just about work. I mean, everything in my house was about work. You were going to learn how to work, work, work, work. I mean Saturdays . . .

Andrew: Can you give me an example?

Ryan: . . . were around work.

Andrew: Like what? What would you do because now I’m a dad now. I’d like to give my kids the right work ethic. What are some of the things that you’ve done?

Ryan: Well, so first of all my parents, you know, different than me, and it’s something I have to work on because I’m a father as well. They were willing to not bail us out. You know, they were willing to work with us and work next to us, even though there was probably an easier way, even though they could have thrown money at a problem. But they sat down with us and said, “We’re building the deck in the backyard. And sorry, we’re all going to figure out how to do this together.” And my dad’s going to spend his summer with his four boys nailing the deck and, you know, learning how to cut and frame things, you know, never paid anyone to mow the lawn. Like it was something that we all had to do. We had the chores, and if we didn’t do it, it didn’t get done. And it’s one thing when you’re demanding your kids to go do that, but, you know, something I don’t do a good job with is how do you work with them so you’re putting in the time there with them.

Andrew: Why is that important?

Ryan: And I think that’s something that my parents did really well.

Andrew: Why is that important?

Ryan: One is top-down directive. The other one is more collaborative where you’re leading by example. And I think that that always works the most. And at the time, I wasn’t very grateful for it, but you know. And it translated to everything. You know, my parents could have stayed at much nicer hotels, but they slept with us on the floor at the Motel 6, which I’m not willing to do these days. I have five kids, and I look at raising my children. And I’m like, wow, I wish I had a little bit more of that grit that my parents had in willing to work with my children.

And part of that is time. You know, being an academic, I think they had a little bit more time. And it wasn’t as demanding, what I would say, after hours as, you know, being a tech CEO, you know, where you’re always on. And when they would go home, like, business would stay there at the university. And so, I think there was a little bit of that, but I also think there was just a desire to say, “Hey, look, if my kids know how to work, it solves a lot of problems.”

Andrew: What’s the problem that it solved for you? I want to close this out by just understanding what did all that do for you as an adult? Am I wrong to look for clues into your success in that?

Ryan: Well, no. Like, I’ll just be honest with you right now. Like, I wake up every day and come right into Qualtrics. You know, everywhere I go people are like, “What’s next, Ryan? What’s going on? What are you doing?” It’s like, “No. I wake up and come to work. That’s what I do.” And no matter what the transaction is, no matter what’s happened, no matter SAP or anything, like, I’ve stayed doing the same thing for 19 years. I’ve done very little outside investing. I’ve been very, very focused on this. And I think, you know, that’s what my parents taught us is you wake up and you go. And if I look at the success of Qualtrics, a lot of that is because we’ve had the ability to stick with it. And, you know, we’ve had a lot of formidable competitors over the years that just got distracted, or they didn’t do that, or when they had a little bit of success . . .

Andrew: Give me an example.

Ryan: Well, you know, bootstrapping, right? We didn’t raise money for 10 years. Everyone else raised a bunch of money. They got enamored with it. We took the harder . . .

Andrew: What’s an example of someone who got distracted while you stayed focused, that they did something else while you stayed focus?

Ryan: I would say the number one thing is getting enamored with fundraising and becoming unicorns, and raising a bunch of money, and putting celebrities on their boards, and doing a bunch of things like that, where it really didn’t drive the value of the business, and they weren’t playing. They didn’t realize how long the game was going to be. So when we started fundraising, or we started getting ready to go public, we had a much more long-term view, and we were peaking at the right time when the business was ready to, even though it took a little more humbleness and confidence to be able to sit in a basement when no one knew who you were, and go, and maybe not be able to recruit as good a people or as many people, or have to go a little bit slower. That all comes back from just knowing that if you put your head down and you go to work, good things will happen.

Andrew: All right. Then let’s go back and hear the story from the beginning. What’s the idea that led you to create Qualtrics? What led you to do it?

Ryan: So the idea of Qualtrics was kind of a spinoff of my father. I was working for Hewlett Packard in Los Angeles at the time, and I got a phone call that said, you know, from my father that, “I’ve got cancer, and it doesn’t look good.” He had throat cancer. They gave him six months to live.

So I left that next weekend, cut everything early, started coming into the fall. I decided I wasn’t going to go to school that fall. I was at BYU. And I just wanted to sit and work with my dad or be with my dad, but he had a lot of downtime between radiation and chemo. And he was always messing around with technology. And, you know, he’s a researcher. He’s a scientist. And he was always trying to figure out how to collect data that didn’t exist and automate the analytic side of the process. And we started working on this idea that became Qualtrics. And, you know, fortunately he recovered, and he’s in good shape today. But, you know, that was 20 years ago.

Andrew: Wow.

Ryan: And that’s how Qualtrics started. It started by accident.

Andrew: He just wanted to do what data? What was it that he was fascinated by?

Ryan: A lot of the consulting projects that he would go do. You know, he’d go into Bell South, or he’d go into Sears, and he tried to help them understand, you know, a segment of their audience, or their consumer-base, or why people aren’t buying, or they are buying. There was always some sort of research component to it, where it’s, “How do I communicate with the masses?”

And with the internet, you know, he said, “Hey, wait a minute, there’s something here. There’s something where we can go communicate, and if I could take . . . ” And back then, you would take your data, you’d put it into SPSS or some statistical engine, and then you would have to spit out the results. I mean the process was really expensive. And it took a long time. And then we said, “What if we can enable teams internally to do this?”

And at first, we wanted to enable his own students to do it. And it caught on. I mean, the first account we sold was a woman named Angela Lee at the Kellogg Business School. She made it mandatory for anyone at Kellogg, the number one marketing school in the country, to use Qualtrics. And then from there, we went to Columbia, we went to Wharton, we went to Harvard . . .

Andrew: To do what? How are they using it?

Ryan: They were using it to do a field studies project. So they would go do a consulting project for a company and . . .

Andrew: The students would go do that.

Ryan: The students would and they would basically go create data that didn’t exist, the data they didn’t have, and let them know. And a lot of times, it had to do with customers or a product that they were ready to launch, or a group of their customers who weren’t happy or weren’t purchasing. It’s mostly focused on market research is where it started.

Andrew: Because businesses do this. I didn’t realize this, but businesses will go to schools, to business schools, and say, “You guys want to get real-world experience? Take on one of our problems, you go deal with it, and come back with a fresh idea.” That’s what they would do.

Ryan: Yeah. It’s almost required in every single major MBA program that they would have to do what’s called a field studies project back then, and they would have to do it. And there would typically be an alumni somewhere that would do that. And so that was one use case. The faculty would use it for their own research, so their job is to go publish, and they’ve got to publish on something that hasn’t been created before someone else hasn’t done, so it’s true zero to one. And to do that, they needed to have some sort of data collection piece of this. And then the school itself would use it to measure the effectiveness of all of the infrastructure they were putting in place, whether it was classes or teachers to the students or the faculty.

So we had three different use cases. And the next thing we knew, we had, you know, 250 universities that were on board, and, you know, almost a million students a year being exposed to Qualtrics and graduating out. Someone took us from, you know, Washington to Expedia. Someone took us from Kellogg to Heineken. And we started moving into corporations during that time of, you know, four to five years later after we started. So it’s about a four to five-year bet. No VC would have ever bet on that business. But everywhere I go, they say, “Hey, your mission and what you guys did in academia that continues today was one of the most genius, you know, parts of Qualtrics. And it was all because we didn’t have any money, and that was the audience that was a big user.

Andrew: I want to find out how you got those customers first, and then I also want to describe the simple thing that I see on the very first version of the website that I could find. But first, let me tell you about my first sponsor. It’s a company called ClickFunnels. Do you know ClickFunnels?

Ryan: I don’t.

Andrew: You’d love the founder, Russell Brunson. So he came out with this software that basically all I thought of it was just straight up landing pages. You need to collect an email address, go deploy, you’re done. I signed up for it because someone on my team said, “Go use it,” and now I end up with this set of pages that does over a million dollars, which to you is like a minute of time in revenue, but it’s big for us.

And the way that we got started with it was we just went in, we picked one of their templates, we created a beautiful looking landing page that just convert it. As soon as somebody gave us their email address, ClickFunnels says, “Hey, don’t want to add this other page afterward that collects credit cards?” “Oh, yeah. I guess we have something to sell.” So we slid the page in, we added a credit card component, boom, we’re done.

We then saw that they have this other thing that you slide in underneath the credit card form. I gave it the wrong name. I called it . . . whatever, it doesn’t matter what I called it. Dave over at ClickFunnels who listens to my podcast said, “Andrew. It’s actually called an order form bump.” But here’s the beauty of it, Ryan, when people give me their credit card, there’s a checkbox that says, “Do you also want this extra thing?” Is it weird that I’m selling you while we’re doing this ad, while we’re doing this interview?

Ryan: No. I get sold all day. And I’m just listening to this. I’m actually quite amused.

Andrew: Oh, good. Give me a feedback on it at the end. What do you think as a salesperson?

Ryan: All right. I will. I’ll let you know how you do.

Andrew: So underneath the credit card, there’s a checkbox I could add that says, “If you also want this other thing, this other course, this other access, just check this box.” They’ve already given the credit card so people will check the box. They hit submit, and then that’s it. Now, yes, you could do email. Yes, we could do all kinds of other stuff, but it’s all built in. And the beauty of ClickFunnels is they just make it easy to just slide these components in. And that’s how without even noticing it, I ended up with over a million dollars in sale for one simple funnel like that.

Anyone out there who wants to go try it can see my funnel. It’s at You can just copy it as a template. You can see my interview with Russell Brunson, the founder of this company. He’s doing over $100 million I think, if my memory is right with ClickFunnels.

So you can see my interview with him. I flew out to, I think it was Utah, to do the interview with him, and you can see so many other good things, and they’ll let you use their software for free. It’s a,

Ryan: It’s got to be good if it’s based in Utah.

Andrew: It really is. And it makes me want to go live in Utah. I feel like there’s something there. What is it? Can I talk religion for a moment?

Ryan: Yeah.

Andrew: Okay. Are you Mormon?

Ryan: I am.

Andrew: What is it with Mormons doing so freaking well, like outsize, more percentages that . . . I shouldn’t talk this way, right? It’s wrong, but why?

Ryan: Now, look. I mean, there is a culture. If you just look at the State of Utah, I mean, we started in, you know, 18 whatever, just as a pretty entrepreneurial event. I mean, we came in, we built Salt Lake, we expanded south. And I think just something in the DNA where people aren’t afraid to take a bet, and they’re not afraid of hard work. A lot of the kids who have started these have done missions. You know, I did one to Mexico City. And, you know, no matter what I do from here on out, it’s going to be easier than my mission. So I think that . . .

Andrew: Tell me about your mission. What you’re saying, look, is first of all, for us to even get to Utah, and I should say ClickFunnels is in Idaho, I was wrong, not Utah, but you’re saying just to get to Utah, your ancestors had to have traveled a long way, had to deal with a lot of hardships, then you set up in this place. It’s not really the easiest place to get settled in. And so you have that in your past, but also you have to go and do a mission where you explain to people what Mormonism is. And what was it that made it so tough?

Ryan: I didn’t have to. I chose to. I mean, no one put any pressure on me to go. I have two brothers that didn’t go. But I looked at a lot of people who had gone and I was like, “Wow, I want to be like them.” And it was cool. I had to learn Spanish. I mean, I’ll just be honest, I was probably a . . . you know, I had a rough high school. I pretty much dropped out of high school as junior, stopped going to high school entirely. My parents had gone through a pretty rocky divorce, and I was kind of, “Screw the world. I don’t want to, you know, do anything I don’t want to do.”

And then I went to Seoul, Korea, to teach English, and I decided from there I wanted to go on a mission. And I went on a mission, and I had to learn Spanish. I had to work. I got, you know, basically put in crazy parts of Mexico with people who didn’t speak English. And first of all, two things happen. Number one, it was like the best time of my life. Like, I loved it. I was the happiest I’ve ever been. But two, I learned how to work, really work. And I learned how to study. So I came back in a two-year span from going from being basically a high school dropout to being almost a perfect student and getting into the business school at BYU and going down that path.

Andrew: Wait, how did doing missionary work teach you to work?

Ryan: It’s hard. It’s hard. I mean, you’re in a foreign country, doing a foreign language, having to talk to people where you can’t speak. And there’s no real playbook. So you’ve kind of got to go create your own success. And I think it’s very similar to entrepreneurship. Like, you have good days out there, you have bad days out there. But the beauty of, you know, running a tech company just like it was there was you could wake up and you had a whole new day in front of you.

And, you know, it’s funny this morning. I was with my kiddos. And I was like, we woke up in the morning, we’re all sitting on the couch, and I was like, “You know what I love about mornings,” and they’re like, “What?” And I was like, “You get to start over.” You get to start over. Like, yesterday, like, sucked. I hated yesterday. It was like a horrible day. It was Monday, and my car broke down on the side of the road. Like, everything went wrong yesterday. And so I woke up today. I was like, “I’m so excited about the ability to start.”

I’ve just really enjoyed, as a tech founder, the ability to start over every single day and either build on a success or change a failure from the day before. And I think if I point back to some of the successes we’ve had, I’ve always slept really well at night. And I’ve always been excited to go wake up. And I played [inaudible 00:25:07] this morning at 6:00 a.m. I was like, “All right, let’s get off to a good start. We’re going to go exercise and then . . . ”

Andrew: What do you do at 6:00 a.m., played basketball?

Ryan: I played basketball every day at 6:00 a.m. when I’m in town.

Andrew: Wow.

Ryan: So I think there’s a lot of similarities. I also think there’s a culture here of being an underdog. And it’s not exclusive to Utah. I mean, you know, our second office we opened up was in Dublin, Ireland, which probably couldn’t be more different than Utah from the way the culture is. But there are major similarities. They’re an underdog. They’re a little scrappier than everyone else, and you’re seeing that in Utah.

I mean, Utah, you know, you’re seeing it in other places, but there is that cultural fabric. I also think you’re seeing that success breeds success. So, you know, when we have success, or when Omniture had success, or when Word Perfect had success and other companies that were here, you start to think, “Wow, there’s nothing I can’t do from Utah.” And so when Qualtrics sold to SAP and we’re getting ready to go public, there’s a whole group of young founders who said, “I can do it, and I can do it here.”

I remember when Mike Moritz of Sequoia was investing in us, we had an offer to sell the whole business. And he looked at me across the table, and he’s like, “Why has no one scaled to a big size in Utah? Everyone sells out too early.” And I was freaked that they were going to make me move to the Bay Area. And he looked at me and said, “I believe you can scale this. And I believe you can do it in Utah, Ryan. Are you going to take the money and go sell out now, or you’re going to go for it?” And that’s all [inaudible 00:26:45], and I was like, “I’m going to go for it.” And that’s what happened. And so, to look back seven years and say, “Look, we’ve built that. We’re continuing to build it.” It’s cool, so. But there’s a lot of companies that failed in Utah. I mean, there’s no exclusivity to . . .

Andrew: So let me understand why you succeeded. So I’m looking at the first version of your site. I like the simplicity of what you did, built surveys using intuitive question wizard, deploy surveys using email surveys, links, etc., and analyze results, charts, graphs and Excel download. That’s it. That’s what it is, build the surveys, get them out to people, and then analyze the results. How did you get customers to come to the site? How did you get customers to buy from you in the beginning, the very beginning?

Ryan: We didn’t wait for them to come to us. That’s the first rule.

Andrew: So what did you do?

Ryan: We went to them, you know.

Andrew: How? And when you say we, was it you, this was part of your job, or your brother’s job?

Ryan: Yeah, for sure. I tell every founder that I talk to or advise that, you know, if you can’t sell or you can’t articulate your value prop, I don’t care who you are. I think it’s a bad road if you’ve got to wait to the VP of sales to come in on a white horse, and go and take you to market.

Andrew: So who’s the first customer you sold to? How did you get those first customers?

Ryan: The first one was definitely the university. The second one was a conference board.

Andrew: You mean the university that your dad worked in?

Ryan: No.

Andrew: Kellogg?

Ryan: The Kellogg.

Andrew: How’d you get the Kellogg University and sell to them?

Ryan: So first, here’s an interesting story. Like, on paper, it was really simple. It was like, “Okay, look, go to the head of institution, the CIO of the university, and talk about a platform that everyone can use, and everyone can get on the same page.” Well, I went there. The value prop made sense. I talked to the person. I cold-called into him. And they were like, “Yeah. That’s interesting, but, you know, we don’t need it.”

Then I called the Institutional Research Group, and I was like, “Well, research . . . ” and this is back when we were just doing research, “Research is a part of your title. Like, can’t we figure out a way to make this work?” And they were like, “No. We don’t need it.” And then I started seeing users within marketing. So I called the Business School, and the Business School was like, “We don’t need it,” or, “It’s nice, but we’re not going to pay for it.”

And then I called the marketing department. And the marketing department was saying, “Wow, this is cool.” They were showing a little bit more love, but they still wouldn’t pay for it. But then I find individual faculty members in the marketing department who would pay for it, and they’d pay a little bit. And so we got a couple of them on board. And then we convinced the marketing department to come on board, who then convinced the Business School to come on board, who then convinced social science to come on board, then convinced institutional research to come on board. And the next thing you know, a year and a half later, we’re in the CIO’s office going, “Hey, do you want to do this the hard way or the easy way?”

And the theory of going to market top-down made a lot of sense. But in practicality, that wasn’t how it was ever going to go. I’ll never forget advising a famous Silicon Valley startup who raised $30 million and went bust a couple years ago because they were very, very flamboyant. They called me and said, “Hey, look, we’re going to market, in the academic market, and this is what we’re going to do. Do you have any advice?” I said, “Yeah, it’s wrong.”

Andrew: Because?

Ryan: He said, “What do you mean?” I’m just like, “It’s just wrong. Like, whatever you think on paper going after academics it’s going to be wrong.” And I went through my story how the ultimate end goal was right with the CIO, but how to get there was totally wrong. And it took five times as long as anyone would have imagined because each one of those model . . .

Andrew: Is it right to have done it the way you did it, to go down to the people who will do a little at a time, or should you have stayed with the CIO?

Ryan: It’s the only way that we were going to get groundswell. You know, I wanted to do it the easy way, which is to go in and sell one person, but it wasn’t in the cards so we had to pivot.

Andrew: And what do you tell the entrepreneur? Did you tell them to go to the CIO and just keep at it, or do you say, “Do what we did?”

Ryan: I mean, in that case, they were trying to go after students, and this was going to happen, and the whole thing was going to tip. And I was just like, “It’s just not going to work that way.” So when you go to market, it’s a little bit like you’re out on the sea and the waves are coming up, and, you know, everyone sits in the harbor polishing their boat thinking that this is how it’s all going to go. And it’s like, “No, just get out on the sea, go launch, when the waves come up, you’re in survival mode, and you need to figure out whatever it is that you have to do to survive.” And if you got to tie yourself to the boat, that’s fine. If you got to bring a mechanic with you to fix the engine, you’re going to have to do that. And I think that if you go and you make pivots, or as you’re running a business, especially in the early days, you don’t know what’s in front of you and where you’re going to have to bob and weave.

Andrew: And for you, it’s just a lot of phone calls until you figured out where the customer was. How did you adjust the product based on what these first users were telling you?

Ryan: It was really hard. I mean, we put in five years of development, now what has been 17 years of development, to be able to make a product malleable enough that academics could use it and . . .

Andrew: So what was some of the first piece of feedback that they gave you that you had to go back and change your product with?

Ryan: Yeah. You know, I’ll never forget a bunch of academic studies wanted the ability to randomize different versions of stimuli. So basically, if I showed one group of people, think about new product testing, where I’m showing someone a big screen TV or a flat screen TV, I want each group to randomly get assigned one of five different flat screens and be able to track which one it is. And I thought, “Wow, no one in the corporate world is ever going to use that.”

But what it allowed us to do was take people on a journey and then record what journey they were able to see. And nothing was better than when Royal Caribbean was launching a new cruise ship, and they were wanting to use the same functionality. And they asked us about it. We had it built-in for some crazy reason because of some academic at Columbia, and it’s actually a really core piece of our technology is the ability to randomly sample and randomly serve content.

Andrew: I’ve always had a problem with surveys not doing that. They always ask the same thing and you wonder, “Are people picking the first answer because it’s right or because it’s just easy?”

Ryan: And those are unintelligent, and, you know, that’s part of the difference between Qualtrics and everything else that’s out there is . . .

Andrew: Well, let me ask you this, why go after academics? Why not say, “You know, my dad did this for businesses. Businesses have more money than their academic institutions. Let’s just go there.” Why did you decide to go after educational institutions?

Ryan: So first of all, I didn’t. I tried to go after businesses first.

Andrew: And what happened?

Ryan: They were not interested in in-sourcing their ability to collect data. If they had some question on their business, they would call a consulting company. They would call McKinsey. They would call someone out there and say, “Hey, go tell us what our customers think.” And then [inaudible 00:33:52] . . .

Andrew: They didn’t want to do this for themselves. Got it.

Ryan: They were not in the Do-It-Yourself mode, and it wasn’t until the downturn of 2006, 2007, 2008 where their budgets were cut, and then at the same time, their need to be right was at a premium. Because when they didn’t have as much money or as many bets they could place, the likelihood of success needed to be that much more accurate. This is when we saw our business take off in the corporate world because students were graduating at the same time. MBA students were graduating the same time and said, “Hey, look.” Now above all other times, we need to make sure that before we make a move, before we launch a product, before we make an assumption, we need to bring the voice of the customer, we need to bring the voice of the market, we need to bring the voice of the employee into our decision-making framework. And that’s when Qualtrics really, really took off.

Andrew: Before you got to that point, how structured was your sales process to go after educational institutions?

Ryan: We were pretty good on the educational side.

Andrew: What was it like? I’m trying to take it from where you were making calls, just looking for somebody in a university to say yes to you, to when you structured it as a company to systematically bring in customers? What did that system look like?

Ryan: Yeah. I mean, it was still the wild, wild west compared to where it is today. I mean, I think people had regions or territories, or we started getting into named accounts. You have this group of accounts, or companies, or academic institutions that you could work on. And then we’d scale and, you know, hire people that we thought could do well and train them and get them up to speed.

Andrew: It was all outbound calls. They had to find the institution, make calls . . .

Ryan: Yeah, absolutely. Like, I mean, you know, we didn’t do any real marketing for 10 years. You know, there was no media. There was no press release.

Andrew: It was just your salespeople calling out, and convincing, and selling one at a time.

Ryan: We all sold. Like, I still sell today. And I think it’s great. It’s the fun part. I get to go talk to customers and, you know the least enjoyable times I’ve had running Qualtrics are when I wasn’t selling because then I’m just like a router of problems or solutions. And I feel like I’m just a high paid router where something comes in, and I dish it off to something else. And it’s like, “That’s not fun. No one wants to grow up and be a high paid router.” You want to have value. You want to be able to get close to your customer because then you’ll know what will work when you’re in the product development cycle.

So when I’m not close to the customer, my credibility, my ability to influence our product direction design and work with engineering or marketing on what’s going to resonate out there to win in the market from a strategic standpoint is all out the window. And so the crux of everything I do is I need to be able to understand what customers need and basically what they don’t see yet.

Andrew: Do you have an example of that? Do you have an example of you talking to a customer selling and as a result, understanding them better?

Ryan: Yeah. I’ll give you a great example. Like, you know, we were trying to sell back in the day. I remember we were trying to sell a site to Travelocity and Sabre. And they were our first real large enterprise customers. And I remember sitting in the airport with my father at the time, and we were going on site. And I remember asking, “Do you think they know that we’re working in a basement?”

And we had got done with the pitch. And, like, the deliverable was, like, a log-in to our website, like Qualtrics. And I was like, “Wow,” like, “How are we charging $75,000 to give them a log-in to the website? That seems like anti climatic.” Like, “Shouldn’t we have something that’s branded and personalized for them?”

And, you know, we created this whole hub. I went home to our engineering team, and I was like, “Okay. We’re going to create this whole hub. We’re basically going to take a duplicate site, and we’re going to make it the internal site for all data collection and research. It’s going to be the hub for all of Travelocity. And we’ll call it Travel PN hub, or we’ll do something. And it’s this whole branding, and everyone internally can have access, and all the data is in one spot.” And our head of engineering at the time said, “Okay, I’ll do it.” And it took him two weeks. He basically copied all the code, set it up, and do it.

And so then we went back for the final presentation. And we handed them this beautiful architected site. And they bought it. And I was like, “Whoa.” Like, I could see that when I was with the customer delivering them, “Hey, here’s your username and password, give me a check for 75,” it just didn’t match the value prop of what we were trying to do.

And then I went back to engineering, and I said, “Hey, we’re going to be doing this a lot.” And they said, “If you do this again, I’m quitting.” And if you fast forward today, we create those type of environments in a minute. And we’ve created thousands, and thousands, and thousands of them. And now, they have they’re on dedicated servers, and their security. And it’s an example of being close to the customer and understanding that our deliverable to the customer was not the aha moment that we could and best demonstrating our product presentation.

There was nothing different with the code on the backend. We just weren’t bringing a great experience to the customer. And I always am reminded of that experience and others where just being there and seeing if I would have been at home and someone else would have been doing, I don’t think they would have caught that same level of value prop.

Andrew: I can totally see that. By the way, I freaking love that story. Let me do my second sponsor message, and then I want to come back in here. I wrote down the word setback. So far, all we’ve done is told hero stories. I want to know a place where you regret a move you made or you suffered to a point where you didn’t know that you can continue. I’d like to get a little bit more of that vulnerability. All right.

So second sponsor is a company called ActiveCampaign. I recently hired a copywriter, Neville Medhora. I said, “Please, help me. My ads are not as good as they could be.” He said, “Andrew, why don’t you just tell people one thing that you did really well related to the sponsor, teach them something from it, and then happen to say that the sponsor’s stuff will do it.”

So here it goes, my new approach to the ad. The sponsor is ActiveCampaign and the problem that I had was I remember running with my friend in Austin, and he said, “Andrew, when I subscribed to your email newsletter, nothing happened.” I go, “Yeah. You’ll get a newsletter. As soon as it comes out, it goes.” But I don’t even know what this is about. You need to onboard me better. And if you onboard with the set of 10 messages, you can actually close me. You could get me to buy if you teach me why I should buy. I was running with him, and I said, “Yeah, I guess I should do it, but I couldn’t do it.” I mean, writing 10 different stories, 10 different emails that will lead to us, I just couldn’t sit down and figure out how to even do it.

And so I put it off, put it off, put it off. And then I finally realized, you know what, just start with one. And so I sat down, and I wrote one email that said, “Here is why I created this site. Here is the mission behind these interviews. My goal is to just get you to hear how entrepreneurs build their businesses so you can learn from them.” And I wrote that, and I put it in. And I thought, “Well, you know what, I should also tell them what I’m selling so it’s not a surprise.” So I wrote down why I’m selling. That became email number two, and I explained why I’m selling it, and why they should at some point buy, and why other people do.

And then I just little at a time, over the course of four, five months, wrote my 10 emails, and I put it into my sequence. And when somebody signed up, they now weren’t just getting the latest message, they got an experience that told them why I’m doing what I’m doing, what I’m selling, why they might want to buy it in the future. And what it’s led to is an automated sales process where as soon as somebody signs up, they get inculcated, they get moved into my world, they get explained what my world is about, and eventually they buy. And that system has sold about 1% of everyone who’s gone through it now, and we’ve got a process that we can keep improving and improving.

Anyone out there who wants to do that could do that with ActiveCampaign. If you go to, you can set up your whole sequence super easy. You can try it for free. You can get your second month free. They’ll even migrate you, and they’ll coach you along this process. Go to to get all that. I’m really grateful to them. That is the best software right now that I know of, the best that’s out there for creating email messaging.

All right, so I have to say, Ryan, that was not my best one. That was not a great ad read. Let’s go on to a big challenge for you. I’ll get better at it. What was the big challenge for you?

Ryan: You know, look, I don’t know that there . . . I mean, I’m 19 years into this. I don’t know that there’s some major challenge [inaudible 00:43:14] more than other . . .

Andrew: Because it’s just been easy?

Ryan: No. I think it all feels like just one big challenge. And so it’s tough to say which phase of the race was harder because it always feels like the phase it’s right in front of us is the hardest. You know, if you think about it, you know, bootstrapping is incredibly difficult. But being a first time founder and scaling, where you’re recruiting a team, where everyone’s older than you and way more experienced and working for you is about as challenging as it gets.

Andrew: Did you stink as a manager at one point?

Ryan: Oh, I think that’s been probably one of the hardest things is, you know, I’ve got to be the fastest learner in the building.

Andrew: When is the time when you look back and you go, “Oh, I should learned that better. I should have done that better.”

Ryan: You know, I had my brother by my side, and I think that he’s a lot less emotional than I am. I think early on I was really emotional. I was probably in the top percentile of emotional founders just because I cared so much.

Andrew: So what did you do with that emotion that wasn’t ideal?

Ryan: Just things got to me. It wasn’t that I would have outbreaks. Like, I couldn’t see past one roadblock, whether it was hiring, or firing, or someone leaving, or customer counseling, or not getting, you know, the way I had it in my head, you know, to work in every aspect of the business.

Andrew: And so how would you react when that happened?

Ryan: Probably not as well as I would now. I mean, Jared, my brother always had this saying where, you know, time bears things out. And, you know, as I look back, he was right on most of it. But when you’re an aggressive, passionate founder, you don’t want to hear time is going to bear this out. You know, that’s what my parents used to tell me when they would teach us how to work, “Well, you’re going to appreciate this when you’re older.” Like, I don’t want to hear that. I want to go play with my friends.

And so I think that as I look back, I’m like, “Whoa, time has really born a lot of this out.” And, you know, that starts from not being aligned and raising venture capital early on, raising capital and keeping the structure, being incredibly conservative with the stock equity pool and making sure that the right people got it, spending money on marketing and go to market.

Andrew: I’m sorry to interrupt, Ryan, but what I mean is when you were so passionate that you were angry that you lost a customer, how did you handle that, when you weren’t who you are today?

Ryan: That’s understandable. I think probably internally on rules and process, you know, Jared is probably I would say one of the best visionaries on organizational design. And we put in a lot of process early on at Qualtrics to help us scale. And, you know, the hiring committee is right where we had to be aligned on hiring, even us. And there were times . . .

Andrew: And there were two of you.

Ryan: Yeah. There were times where we just couldn’t get aligned, and I would go like nuclear on him.

Andrew: What does that mean for you? Nuclear for you means you yell at him or what?

Ryan: Oh, yeah. I mean, we’re brothers. We would fight like brothers. I mean, there’s no question about it. I mean, people tell the stories early on where it just wasn’t that peaceful, and we didn’t get aligned. But then I look back, I’m grateful for those moments for two reasons. Number one is when you’re operating it with a family member, a brother, he had to wake up and love me the next day, where a lot of my other partners or my exec team, like I could probably go to iteration or a nuclear one or two. With Jared, we could go like new killer five and six on each other. And a lot of times, after we went through that, we would come to a different outcome than we would ever get with anyone else.

When you’re able to go 5, or 10, or 15 different iterations with someone that are really uncomfortable, you actually get to a different outcome. And I would say with my staff as great as they are, I could probably only go to iteration two or three before someone would just give in and say, “Hey, this is the way it would go.” And so I think that’s one of the beauties of working with a sibling. But your sibling also knows all the buttons to push, where you’re struggle. And as Jared would say, “Ryan, this is one of your blind spots. Hey, Ryan, I’m sorry, but this is one of your blind spots.” And it would infuriate me back in the day when he used to say that. But as I look, like without that dynamic, we wouldn’t be where we are. We had to make incredibly difficult decisions, and we had to make massively difficult decisions . . .

Andrew: Like what?

Ryan: . . . on what we weren’t going to do.

Andrew: For example?

Ryan: Like, he didn’t want to take venture capital. He left Google in 2009. He’s like, “We’re not taking venture capital. I don’t care.” And I was seeing a business that it was like, “Oh my gosh,” like, “We could be a multi-billion dollar business.” And it was literally a standoff for three years. I had 50 VCs reaching out a month, and I literally just stopped answering. And then finally, I said, “Not taking venture capital is not a solution. Give me a price in which you will take venture capital,” and he threw out $100 million for 20% of the business, and he said, “All right, go chew on that for a while.” Well, we came back six months later with six term sheets and an offer to sell the whole business.

But he wasn’t worried about venture capital. He just wanted to maintain control. And so he wanted to be able to build the business the way he want it. And I respect that a ton, but he was right. Like, a bunch of money wasn’t going to help us in those early days.

The hiring committee, and the hiring bar, you know, we’re notoriously known for having this incredibly difficult interview process and hiring to get into work at Qualtrics. And even though we’ve lost a lot of really good candidates because of it, that’s frustrating because I’ve had to live up to that as well. But as you talk to people, one of the common themes that has been said is, “What I love about Qualtrics is the people that are there.” And everyone says that. And people who have gone to work on elsewhere had said, “Hey, I underestimated the level of people or the colleagues that I work with that we would go slower at times, rather than just filling a role.”

Going international, and, you know, we have a rule internationally, or when someone’s setting up an office, they don’t get an office manager until there are 50 employees. So you have, like, a head of an office going through, and doing food deliveries, and setting up everything and, you know, it’s been frustrating in a lot of points. But the reason why we’re doing it is because we want to establish a culture that is similar to the culture we have that as a founder, as a GM, or as a president, or as a CEO, you do everything, and you don’t have people doing things for you. Like, you need to be able to almost have that same entrepreneurial startup experience that we have. And so those are frustrating things, but they’re also things that we’ve been super grateful for as you look back. And the theme of it is, you know, time bears it out.

I was speaking to all of the Sequoia startups, you know, at Basecamp this year. And I had everyone stand up who had been doing their startup for five years or less. Then I had everyone stand up who had been doing it more than that. And if you took the people who are five years or less, and I just told them, I said, “Okay, you guys have 10 years in front of you, how are you thinking about it?” You can just see the look on people’s face. It’s like, “Oh my gosh. Like, there’s that much more of the journey still ahead.” You do need to think that way. Everything we’ve done at Qualtrics has taken longer than we thought. And we’ve had pretty sharp people working on it. And so I think people often optimize for the best possible outcome, and we’ve always run under the assumption that we expect the worst and hope for the best.

Andrew: I did see, by the way that you guys did own a big . . . not just big share of the company at the exit, but also a lot of voting power at the end. Was it . . . I’m trying to do it from memory, was it like 90% voting power?

Ryan: Yeah. I mean, the voting structure is one thing. I mean, there wasn’t really a whole lot of debate in the voting structure like there was in some companies because people try to have supermajority voting structures when they don’t own any of it. I remember, when we were on the road show, one investor said, “Hey, what do you think about this voting structure?” And my response was really simple. I just looked him in the eye and said, “I own a hell of a lot more than this, and you will.”

So I have a lot more skin in the game. And by the way, if I’m you, I would never invest in a company where you own more than me. And so, you know, we bootstrapped our company, and people talk to me about bootstrapping versus raising all the time. And if you bootstrap, you will own more of your company if you’re successful. So assume, you know, both sets of folks are going to hit their objectives, we ended up with 50% more of our company than if we would have raised earlier on.

And I looked at this company. I’ve been advising, you know, three companies this month where, you know, they’re sub $20 million in revenue, and they’ve already sold more of their company than we did at Qualtrics. It’s not going to end well. It’s not going to end well for the employees. It’s not going to end well for the investors. You know, having to pay out and just going through that exercise where you actually distribute that much money to people, you learn a lot about the decisions you make.

And I think, you know, good companies, if I look around, are the ones where, first of all, the founders have massive staying power. And that’s done not solely by voting, but having a big stake in it. And I only want to back companies personally that the founder has a lot of stake in it because I want them to care more than I do.

Andrew: How much did you have at the end, even your brother?

Ryan: I think just in the employees, we were up, you know, north of 50%, well north of 50%.

Andrew: Am I right, it’s like 46% voting power for each you and your brother?

Ryan: Yeah, I think so. I don’t know.

Andrew: Something like that.

Ryan: I’ll just be honest with you. In seven years with our board, we never had one deal that ever came down to voting.

Andrew: Why did you decide to go public, and then why did you, at the last minute say, “Actually, we’re going to sell to SAP?”

Ryan: I mean, you get to be a size, you have to go public. You know . . .

Andrew: What do you mean because there’s so many employees who own shares in the business?

Ryan: Yeah. I remember when we turned down our $500 million offer to sell the company. I told the person who was offering this money, who was a legendary Silicon Valley executive, I said, “Look, I’m not ready to sell the business.” And he turned to me and said, “You know, when you’re taking venture capital, you’re selling your business.” And I said, “No, I’m not.” And it’s true. You know, if I look at my first term sheet, it looks like we were never going to raise again. And we had no reason to raise again. We needed no money, but we raised $70 million, then we raised $150, and then we raised $130. Like, we raised a total of $400 million over time. But you’re on that path. You’re just selling a portion of your business.

And so we were at the size where we had built our company to be a great public company. We were going to be a phenomenal public company. We were cash flow positive, we were high growth. You know, go look at the companies that are nearing a billion dollars, will cross a billion sales next year, and with that, who’s cash flow positive and growing north of 50%, there’s not that many. So we were set up to be the perfect public company to go through that.

Personally, we’re also a little bit more of a mission-driven company. And our mission is to take this experience management vision to the world. And, you know, we’ve had one offer early on and not really that many other offers, and SAP I had gotten to know. I was fortunate to have a bunch of friends who had been acquired and done things with SAP. And, you know, as I got to know Bill McDermott, you know, we started dreaming of what this could be together. And he approached me and said, “Hey, I have an idea. Go public differently.”

And I said, “Well, what does that look like?” And it was very much, “What if we came in and we put experience at the forefront of what we’re doing at SAP, and, you know, you can operate, and you can build, and you can grow. And how does that sound?” And, you know, no one’s ever come in. And I mean, I guess WhatsApp was bought in the private market for 17 billion. We were the second largest and the largest enterprise software company ever to be purchased in the private market. It just doesn’t happen.

And so, you know, there was a little bit of disbelief. And, you know, we decided to go on the road anyways and go out there, and, you know, they kind of had till Sunday of the day we were ringing the bell to get a deal done. And sure enough, he called me and said, “I’m outside of your headquarters in Provo,” and I said, “Well, I’ve got an all-hands meeting at 2:00 o’clock. I’m either telling them we’re working with SAP or work. This is who’s going to go ring the bell in New York on Thursday.” And, you know, we were a year in, and I love every single thing that, you know, SAP has brought. It’s been absolutely awesome. We’ve been able to do things that we haven’t been able to do. We’ve got a global footprint. I thought we’re global before, but we were simply international.

Andrew: It’s a cash deal. Why are you working so hard? What’s the incentive? Is there a financial component that makes sense to you? Is there something else?

Ryan: Look, I mean, Andrew, there hasn’t been a financial component in 10 years that made sense.

Andrew: You just have to.

Ryan: It’s just what you do, Like, my kids need to go see me grind. And, you know, my parents taught this to me. And, you know, if it was about me and money, I would have gone public. If it’s about the mission and everything that we’re doing and building experience management, there’s not a better platform than SAP out there in tech to take it to the world. So I had to ask myself that question very seriously is like, “Okay, is this about you or is it about the mission?” and it’s about the mission. And you know, I’m still going to wake up and wear my hoodie and my hat and . . .

Andrew: And what does the hat say?

Ryan: It says I can’t break 80. It’s a golf thing.

Andrew: Ah. By the way, I heard you played golf soon after the sale. But I forget who it was, maybe it was Fortune who said to you, “You sold.” At that point, you’d become a billionaire. What do you do to celebrate? And then you went off on like a paragraph or two about how we’re not celebrating it. And then at the end, you said, “I bought a truck. My kids need to be able to get around.” Why are you so adamant about we’re not celebrating the fact that we just sold this company you worked for so long? What’s the point that you’re making?

Ryan: I mean, there’s celebration, but, like, I don’t think we ever celebrated the venture rounds. I mean, at the end of the day, you know, the IPO is the biggest joke celebration in the world because you go and you ring the bell, you go public, and then it’s like, “Oh, wait, everyone’s got to get back because the real work starts tomorrow.” We got to go hit quarters now. And so I think, like, that was part of the deal. Like, I love what I do. I love building a company. I’m not going to go build another tech company. I’m not. I mean, this one’s 20 years. Maybe I’m smart enough next time if I were to do it to do it in 10. But I know what it takes. So if I want to go work in tech, it’s got to be here at Qualtrics, or I can just kiss the tech community goodbye, and I don’t want to be a VC.

Andrew: Because?

Ryan: Just I’m an operator.

Andrew: What’s it?

Ryan: I like to build. So that’s what it is. So if that’s what you have already found out about yourself, then why wouldn’t you keep rolling? The other thing that people don’t ask themselves is how long they’re going to work. I know I’m going to work until I’m 80. I know I’m going to work until I’m 80. I like to do it. I’m going to do it. I know what it’s like to play golf every day. I don’t want to play golf every day. I like golf, but not that much. And it’s what I do. And it’s not that I’m a workaholic or it’s this. It’s just it’s how I find joy, and I feel like I’m somewhat proficient at it, so let’s keep it rolling.

Andrew: All right. So if we come back and do this interview when you’re 80, you’ll be at a desk somewhere working, assuming you’re health . . .

Ryan: Probably, for sure.

Andrew: Wow-wee. All right. I want to thank you for doing this interview. The website is Qualtrics. By the way, as you’re tossing stuff out, I go and check it out. You say people like working here and so on. I went to Glassdoor to look it up. Sure enough, yeah, your ratings are really strong on Glassdoor. The one negative that you kept getting was, “We’re growing really fast. It’s kind of tough. There are growing pains.” I saw that kept coming up.

Ryan: Yeah, hey, guess what, you don’t want to work for a company that’s not growing fast. And, you know, if you want an imperfect company, or you want a perfect company, don’t go to a fast growing one because you can’t put 1,200 people on top of 1,200 people in one year and expect things not to break. But that’s what we love.

Andrew: You even hit a profit before you went public. You said, “We were cash flow positive.” I checked profit just before going public. The one mistake that I got was it was a $5 billion note from Zimbabwe. I think I said Turkey for some reason . . .

Ryan: Oh, that’s good.

Andrew: . . . Zimbabwe you have on your desktop. I want to thank the two sponsors who made this interview happen.

Ryan: Sure.

Andrew: You know what, I know you’ve got to run, why don’t I just close this out of my own. You don’t have to run here. I’ll close this out with you. Everybody out there, if you’re listening to me and you want to turn leads into customers, there is no better tool, believe me, I could code this stuff up from scratch. We had all the other tools. There’s no better tool than ClickFunnels. Go check them out at It will turn strangers into people who are part of your mission and then help you close sales with them. And number two, if you need to do email marketing right, check out All right, Ryan, thanks so much for doing this.

Ryan: All right, awesome.

Andrew: All right. You bet. Bye.

Ryan: Take care, man.

Andrew: Bye, everyone.

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