I have a secret. In college, sometimes students pay each other to do their homework. I know! The research takes a lot of time, and in the end often you still don’t have all the information you need. Researching tool Qualtrics helps students and enterprises alike find not just some data, but all the data relevant to their project.
“In 2002 I couldn’t convince anyone to do research online,” said Qualtrics chief executive Ryan Smith in an interview with VentureBeat. “So we started in academia for five years and we dominated it.”
Just like in college, others are willing to pay you to do that data analysis for them. The company received $70 million in its first round of funding from Accel Partners and Sequoia Capital today. Since its founding year, 2002, Qualtrics has grown to be profitable and have over 4,000 customers including big enterprise clients, as well as over 600 academic institutions. The company was founded when a couple of students realized they needed a better way to get their research done. Smith stressed that his product is for the intern all the way to the professional researcher. For much of Qualtrics’ life, the company had only one product: the ability to fill out a survey of your knowledge needs and get back an answer.
“Part of the problem I see is that people believe they’ve got the right data,” said Smith.
This product, which is the company’s main bread and butter, allows customers to “survey” anyone on the Internet, asking for any kind of data that isn’t restricted by a certain database’s parameters. Instead of coming back with a long list of data that needs to be made sense of, the program will provide you charts or graphs, information you can immediately absorb and use. The company just released two new products, one called “Site Intercept” that allows you to see when and how someone is using your site to push them content or ask them for information about a product. The second, called Qualtrics 360, provides analytics.
“People talk about big data right now and tend to get focused on the data center,” said Accel Partners partner Ryan Sweeney in an interview with VentureBeat. “We at Accel believe there’s as much of a data issue occurring outside the enterprise as well.”
Sweeney explained that this was the biggest round Accel and Sequoia had jointly participated in, but it wasn’t an easy road to get there. Smith and his co-founders simply weren’t interested in taking on venture capital. The company had been bootstrapped since its early days and become independently successful.
“We’ve been kind of scouted for quite some time by venture firms and it’s been a process,” said Smith. “We really were interested in making sure that one and one equals five and we really saw they bought into the vision that we have.”
Smith also appreciated that the venture firms were excited about having the company in Utah, outside of the big silicon city. Qualtrics will use the funding to hire on 250 employees, build out the Site Intercept and 360 products, as well as push forward with international expansion.
Ryan Smith photo via Justin Hackworth, screenshot via Qualtrics