Marriott Alumni Magazine

Fall 2016

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Page 35 of 51

D own in his family's basement fourteen years ago, Ryan Smith was sweating. As he struggled to scale a young startup without funding, "our competitors were raising a bunch of money and rolling out the marketing," Smith remembers. Frustrated with slow growth and software he knew could be improved, Smith urged his father and business partner to make changes. "Who's stopping you here?" former Marriott School marketing professor Scott Smith asked his son. Ryan looked around the base- ment, where the two founders stood alone. "It was an 'aha moment,'" Ryan says. "If this was going to go anywhere, I couldn't blame any- one else if something wasn't right. It was on me. From that point on, we got really good at working together; no one was stopping us." In a basement no more, the duo later brought in Ryan's brother, Jared, and college buddy, Stuart Orgill, to build Qualtrics, today an international leader in online survey research and market-data collection. Qualtrics, which is valued at $1 billion, employs 1,200 globally, claims thousands of top-brand clients—Microsoft, Pfizer, and KMPG, to name a few—and dominates the academic market. This year, Smith became the first Utahn to land on Fortune's 40 Under 40 ranking of influential young business leaders. The term "startup" hardly applies anymore, as Smith aims to build a company with staying power. "I don't want Utah to be known for just a bunch of startups; Utah needs to be known for companies that have done great things. We have the makeup here to go the distance." Billion-dollar company notwithstanding, until this summer Smith had yet to accomplish a lifelong goal: appearing on his grandma's "smart shelf." "The only way I could get on there, it didn't matter anything else that I did, was to have a college degree," says Smith, who recently completed his BYU management degree. He was also happy to claim his place among his network of twelve college buddies—all Marriott School alums who live around the world and have kept in touch for ten years through fantasy foot- ball and a yearly round of golf. At this year's game "it was nice to tell them that I graduated college." Along with nursing a healthy obses- sion with BYU sports, outside the office Smith keeps busy with golfing competi- tively; biking; pickup basketball; and spending time with his wife, Ashley, and their five children—all of whom are under age eight. "It is chaos at the Smith house," he says. Looking to Qualtrics's future, Smith is teed up for more growth—"I love our optionality, and we have great partners and investors who believe in Qualtrics and believe in Utah," he says—and ready to take on the English lexicon: "I want Qualtrics to be a verb. If someone has a research question, they can 'Qual- trics it' and get the data." ryan smith Qualtrics Cofounder and ceo E LS E W HE R E ON THE S LOP E S These seven entrepreneurs represent only a small slice of Silicon Slopes. Want to see for yourself how far tech has spread in Utah? Check out for an interactive map of locally grown ventures, big and small, along the Wasatch Front. 34 MARRIOTT

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