Qualtrics receives $70 million in funding after waiting 12 years
Ryan Smith, the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Qualtrics, bootstrapped the enterprise survey business he co-founded in 2002 and operated from his father's basement before finally saying yes to venture capital in 2012. In an interview with Entrepreneur, Smith revealed that by the fifth year of operations, their Provo, Utah-based startup had received 100 calls from venture capitalists and investment firms.
The waiting apparently helped. Sequoia Capital and Accel Partners finally succeeded in giving $70 million in funding to Qualtrics. Sequoia Capital Partner Bryan Schreier told Entrepreneur that it was a sound and profitable business model that drew them to the startup.
Schreier said, "[Bootstrapping longer] focuses the company on creating a healthy business model at a very early stage. It's hard to create a viable business model five years down the road. It's much easier if you're focused on making money from the start."
For his part, Smith said it was critical to nail the product and business model first before scaling up. He told the Entrepreneur, "I think if a company doesn't have its core figured out, it could be really difficult to find it when there's $20 million sitting in the bank that has to be spent now."
As far as choosing the venture capital firm to work with, Smith said they looked for partners who shared the same excitement they had about the opportunity, about their company and about Utah. He added that building a relationship before finally inking a deal was important.
When asked what advice he could give to startups contemplating funding from VC, Smith said, "Ask yourself why. If you're in a "scale it" phase, I think funding can do a ton of good. If you're in a "nail it" phase, I think that's where you see companies thrash around and a lot of them fail. If you're thinking about taking money, talk to portfolio companies. Talk to companies who have taken funding from [VCs]."