This article was published in the Summer 2020 issue
by Brad Bonham, CEO, Walker Edison
When I speak to other entrepreneurs in Utah, I ask how they’ve become so successful when so many startups have failed. Time and time again I get responses like, “We built the right team,” or “We identified a trend early on,” as well as the most common answer, “I just got lucky”. While those answers ring true, let me propose an additional possibility: our geographic location and world-class resources!
Utah is often recognized as the top state in the country to start a business by a wide range of business publications. We have an amazing team of people promoting our state at the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED), and EDC Utah is dedicated to attracting high paying jobs across the state. Our unemployment rate is two times better than the rest of the USA because of these initiatives.
Those efforts have paid dividends. GOED recently reported $1.1 billion in capital investment, 13,364 new jobs, and $9.78 billion in new state wages in the last year alone!
In addition to government cultivating a pro-business environment and promoting our highly educated workforce , Utah has world -class business resources in its tech and product businesses designed specifically to maximize business results. Need an expense tracking tool better than anything else on the market? Check out Divvy. Need predictive data around potential hiring? Look at JourneyFront. Need a developer? Dev Mountain’s got one for you. How about understanding customer experience? Qualtrics is the best in the biz.
The pivotal moment at Walker Edison came when we on-boarded with local data analytics company, DOMO. In fact, you can pinpoint our rise to a billion-dollar business to when data became the rule and not the exception. Before our DOMO implementation, data gathering went something like this: a question is posed, that question is passed to the accounting team, which then pulled the data from our ERP, manipulated it in spreadsheets, and returned with an answer days or weeks later.
Now, from anywhere in the world, every single member of our 500 person team has access to real-time information, customized to them for on-the-fly decision making based on data, not just gut instinct. We’ve taken it one step further, working with our business intelligence and MIT-educated supply chain teams to use machine learning as predictive analytics tools that we run through DOMO and other proprietary software. We have 97% accuracy in our ordering, all thanks to the world-class services and products found in fellow Utah companies.
It’s even better for startups, with ample capital available from both traditional lenders, VCs, and PE groups, as well as growth-minded incubators such as Rev Road and flexible work environments hosted by Kiln. The entrepreneurial programs at BYU, University of Utah, Utah State, Weber State, and Ensign College are world-class, often taught by the very highly respected CEOs and founders of the aforementioned unicorns.
If you’re considering starting a business and need help getting “lucky”, Utah probably has the tool or solution you’re looking for. There’s never been a better time than now to utilize our unfair advantage.
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