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(Al Hartmann | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, left, greets Qualtrics CEO Ryan Smith at an event Tuesday marking the company's announcement that it has closed on a $70 million round of investment funding.
Hey, world, are you ready for Utah’s Qualtrics?
Software » Provo’s rising star of survey and data collection is ready to go big.
First Published Jun 16 2012 11:08 pm • Last Updated Jun 16 2012 11:03 pm

Qualtrics Labs Inc. is a Provo-based company that . . .

A. Produces Web-based software for surveys.

At a glance

Qualtrics, from the inside

What » Provo company that produces Web-based survey software that can collect and analyze data for businesses and colleges.

Employees » About 200, including sales staff, customer support personnel and software engineers. Will be hiring another 250 by the end of the year.

Founded » In 2002 by Scott Smith, son Ryan and Stuart Orgill in Scott Smith’s Provo basement.

Funding » Recently received $70 million in venture capital from Silicon Valley investors Accel Partners and Sequoia Capital.

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B. Has had triple-digit growth for the past five years.

C. Has an old VW bus parked in the middle of its offices.

D. All of the above.

If you picked D, you’re beginning to understand the charm of one of the state’s most successful companies of late, what Forbes recently called "tech’s hidden gem in Utah."

Qualtrics produces three Web-based products — its Research Suite, which helps companies and schools conduct their own custom-made surveys and data analysis; Site Intercept, which allows websites to get feedback from visitors; and 360, a tool to help human resource operations assess employee performance.

The 200-employee firm, which is housed in the old Dynix building nestled near the Wasatch Mountains on the northern tip of Provo, has seen a rocket-like trajectory of success since it set up stakes in Utah County in 2002.

Now, Qualtrics is ready for the big time. It turned down an offer to be bought for $500 million and instead accepted $70 million funding from renowned Silicon Valley venture capitalists Sequoia Capital and Accel Partners, which funded the launches of Apple and Facebook. Qualtrics executives claim it is the biggest first-round infusion of capital in Utah’s history.

Today, Qualtrics’ clients include names such as Microsoft, Prudential, Toyota, HP, Motorola and colleges that include Cambridge, UCLA and Columbia. It boasts a more than 99 percent renewal rate from its academic clients.

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"We’re ready now," said company founder Scott Smith, who also is a Brigham Young University marketing professor. "We’re ready to go out and let the world know that Qualtrics exists."

"Easy enough for an intern" » As a professor, Smith, 63, always understood the value of conducting surveys to grasp what customers think.

The problem has always been inventing tools easy enough to use. There also had to be a faster way to analyze that data. Smith realized the solution was through the Web.

"We just came to the awareness very quickly that [using the Web] is a great way to collect data. It was very quick, it was very easy. It was not painful the way collecting either personal interviews or mail surveys were," he said. "You could have a complete survey, and the data collected and tabulated, in 48 hours as opposed to literally multiple weeks or even months. We looked at that and said there’s got to be some value here. Everyone would do data collection this way."

With the help of MBA students and some of his own programming background in Web development, Smith started to create the tools that would make all of this data collection easy. Qualtrics was born.

The company’s anchor product, Research Suite, now services more than 4,700 clients, including 600 universities and more than 90 of the top 100 business schools in the country as ranked by U.S. News & World Report.

Qualtrics has many competitors, such as SurveyMonkey. But the motto for Research Suite is, "Easy enough for an intern, sophisticated enough for a Ph.D." That’s how clients such as the University of Utah’s business school see the service.

"[Before], we were using an internal product that was horrible, to say the least," said U. Web developer Mark Benton, who trains business school employees on Research Suite. "Support has been great. It works. The options in it were far and above what we were using."

Smith and his company also stress prompt customer service and support. If a call in the office isn’t answered by someone within 20 seconds, a gong goes off, and anyone can pick it up.

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