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Qualtrics: Delivering the Customer Lifetime Value You Deserve


As technology scales, so does the necessity to improve, optimize and reinvent the client experience and in all lines of business - and this is extremely costly in both time and money. Fortunately, someone already invented a solution - Qualtrics.

For Qualtrics to grow into the exceptional customer service platform it is today, the tech world needed Ryan Smith. A true empath at heart, Ryan’s mission in developing Qualtrics was based on his mere understanding of the way humans acted, reacted - and interacted.

Relying on the power of technology and quality, Ryan created Qualtrics to tackle a number of issues - from social misunderstandings, human rights issues, and health care disparities to gender equality, education, and income.

What once was the inception of a meticulously crafted idea turned Qualtrics into today’s no-churn and reduced-cost provider - rightfully recognized on a global scale!

Read more here to learn all about his journey:

Early Life and Education

To truly understand how Ryan got to where he is today, we need to take a closer look at his abundant upbringing.

A summer baby, Ryan was born in Oregon in 1977, as one of five children.

With academics for parents, Ryan’s mother, Nancy, held a PhD in information systems, whereas his father, Scott, was a businessman with a PhD in marketing.

One of the early challenges for Ryan came at the age of 17 when he and his family moved to South Korea.

Although intending to pursue a full-time job as an English teacher upon finishing school, Ryan found it hard to succeed as a foreign teacher, due to both lack of opportunities and South Korea’s strict employment process. Unable to teach English full-time, Ryan opted to do it as a side job, delivering flyers to South Korean apartments in the meantime.

Surprisingly, his private tutoring lesions earned him a nice living, and up to $84,000 a year, and yet, Ryan felt something was missing from the whole picture.

Abandoning the idea of teaching altogether, Ryan enrolled at Brigham Young University to pursue undergraduate business studies. In 2001, while attending an internship at Hewlett-Packard, Ryan’s father, Scott, was diagnosed with throat cancer, causing Ryan to fly back home and tend to him.

Ryan’s father took this quality time as an opportunity to teach his son the specifics of successful market researching, survey conducting, and software development.

Ryan loved the idea of being taught by his father and adopting his career path as his own. Consequently, he dropped out of college and aimed for good ole’ business making.

Years later, Ryan would finally understand the value of a business degree and head back to college to finish his Management studies with honours.

Zero to Hero

Spending time at home with his father was heaven-sent for Ryan, who got to learn from his dad and further develop the technology that would soon make a fruitful business model.

Day after day, Ryan would take his father to chemotherapy, then come back home to work on their project. By the time Scott had regained his full strength, Ryan would not only refine the platform they were building but also gather its first 20 customers and hire a small production team.

Having all aces pulled up his sleeve, Ryan launched Qualtrics in 2002!

The company’s first customers came after he realized the opportunity in finding information on key decision-makers, a strategy that had been successful for countless other businesses in the industry.

Qualtrics’ very first customer was a professor at the Kellogg School of Management, who stayed loyal to the service provider to this day, along with the company’s initial clientele.

The company primarily stuck to its original vision and nurtured its existing and potential customer relationships. When it came to new ideas, Ryan turned to the one person he knew he could trust - his brother Jared.

Ryan was so determined to accomplish his initial company goals and succeeded in attracting 250 schools as part of his client base. As a result, the company increased its product volume while largely depending on marketing to promote it further.

Qualtrics pulled quite the smart move in its early days when it only targeted universities as clients. As a result of this tactic, thousands of marketing students relied on Ryan’s program and even more, applied it to their jobs once hired.

With promising growth and obvious popularity, Ryan expanded Qualtrics’ technical capacity and built a refined engineering team led by his brother.

One Platform Does It All

Qualtrics is a cloud-based platform for creating and distributing web-based surveys.

It can be used on any computer, all thanks to its state-of-the-art design and through meeting a variety of its clients’ marketing and business needs.

The company is mainly focused on acquiring their customer’s feedback and allows them to evaluate a wide range of products, services, and useful systems. Based on this feedback, Qualtrics enforces real-time changes, thus ensuring the competitive value of their offerings.

But, what are the benefits of Qualtrics, per se?

While many, the company offers a few distinguishable services loved by many users. These include professional academic and market research and answering designated survey questions based on various patterns, from multiple question surveys to sliders and textual queries.

In essence, the platform offers academic facilities, such as schools and universities to collect both feedback and data on their students.

The platform also offers a highly customizable survey appearance and multiple sharing settings that facilitate collaboration between colleagues. Among other perks, Qualtrics also provides advanced conditional logic tools that allow complex experimental designs as well as functional user-tailored survey paths.

Qualtrics has the ability to translate a survey to multiple languages, add scoring to surveys, and create customized course quizzes, questionnaires, and more.

The Billion Dollar Club

The basement of Ryan’s Utah family home became Qualtrics’ office for the next couple of years. Unfortunately, in its early days, the company consistently faced rejection from investing corporations and big angel names.

Nevertheless, once the company moved offices in 2006, it reached its first $1.3 million, and by 2007, Qualtrics expanded from an academic-only to business-oriented company.

For years, Qualtrics attempted to preserve its individualism, and surprisingly, even turned down a mysterious investment offer worth $500 million.

In 2012, however, after years of considering venture capitalists only, the company accepted equity capital from Accel Partners and Sequoia, worth $70 million.

By the year’s end, Qualtrics managed to generate around $50 million in revenue.

In 2013, Ryan earned a spot on ‘America’s Most Promising CEOs under 35’ list.

As a result, Qualtrics continued to expand, ultimately reaching 5,000 customers and $70 million in funding.

Come 2014, the platform secured an additional $150 million in Series B funding, while its board was joined by Insight Venture Partners.

Qualtrics launched 5 for Fight in 2016 - a global campaign gathering funds for cancer research helped by 5-dollar donations. The platform’s contribution was monumental and awarded Ryan another recognition-list spot, this time ‘Fortune’s 40 business leaders under 40’.

In 2018, SAP, a cloud company leading the entrepreneurial software acquired Qualtrics for $8 billion, a process completed by the end of 2019.

Today, with more than 2 million users in 100+ countries and offices in almost every corner of the world, Qualtrics has been named a leader in customer experience and a leader in employee experience.

Even today, regardless of the change of tides, Ryan and the company still stand up for one main purpose - to build experience-gap-filling technology that works!