Utah Stories Interview: What Does Entrepreneurship Look Like in Utah? 

What does entrepreneurship look like in Utah? It’s elevated, with signs of growth on all fronts. According to WalletHub, Utah is the best state for starting a business. With advantages in qualified loans, an experienced tech-savvy workforce, and access to capital, experts agree this is the place. 

“During a time when money is tight, having ready access to capital and being in a state where business is booming can mean the difference between a startup thriving and dying during its first few years,” said Cassandra Happe, an analyst at WalletHub. 

Recently, Ryan Westwood sat down with Richard Markosian, the editor and publisher of Utah Stories Magazine and the host of Utah Stories podcast, to speculate on reasons why Utah is a hotbed for entrepreneurs, what motivated Ryan to jump back into the entrepreneurial game with Fullcast, what the future holds for businesses looking to accelerate sales with an updated go-to-market strategy, and how Fullcast plays a part in that transformation. 

Here are some highlights from that interview:

Richard Markosian: When you look at the tech scene in Utah and Silicon Slopes, what the state’s been doing, and how we’ve done—we’ve just got this booming tech economy. What would you attribute that most to?

Ryan Westwood: I think we have some excellent universities that contribute with IP and have some incredible entrepreneurship programs. The other element. . . Founders and entrepreneurs who have had some degree of success in Utah are not afraid to back other founders. 

I’ve had a lot of founders and names you might recognize that have backed me multiple times and supported me, and I really appreciate it. And so, I’ve invested a lot in dozens and dozens of tech companies in Utah to support the next generation of entrepreneurs. 

Not only do we have a much bigger ecosystem of venture capital now in Utah—I mean, it’s magnificent the difference from a decade ago for an entrepreneur to raise money in Utah. I can’t even tell you how much higher their odds are. But you also have a truly unique community led by Clint Betts in Silicon Slopes that supports each other. We realize we’re underdogs, and so we help each other. 

RM: It seems like a lot of the impetus is moving out of California to places like Austin and Salt Lake City and Vegas and other places. Do you think that is due to the environment, the tax burdens that exist in California, or more the incentives that exist in these other places?

RW: I think it plays a small part in it. I think people think it plays a bigger part than it does. But it is a very advantageous place to do business in Utah. Ultimately, it comes down to the entrepreneurs’ ability to execute and the capital they have access to. 

In Utah, you have a much more mature ecosystem than 10 years ago. You have lots of billion-dollar exits. Not just a handful, not just a dozen, but lots. 

And you mentioned Adobe; I mean, if Josh James didn’t create Omniture, Adobe wouldn’t be here, and those beautiful buildings wouldn’t be here. And that didn’t exist not that long ago. So we now have a lot of exits. We now have a lot more capital, and we’re in a position where we can really do some magnificent things in tech and leave a mark on Utah in general.

RM: Where did you initially see the need or the niche for Fullcast?

RW: Imagine you’re a big company, you’ve got 1000 salespeople, and you say, “Okay, we’ve got 1000 salespeople, and we need to figure out how to maximize their time and their opportunity.” 

How are we going to do that? What are we going to have them sell? Where are we going to have them sell? What industries are they going to focus on? And how do we maximize the revenue opportunity with the number of salespeople we have? 

A lot of salespeople aren’t achieving quotas because of a failure by the businesses to scrub, to structure, and set up their opportunity. We’re going to solve that and create opportunities for salespeople to achieve their goals at a higher rate, and solve for and maximize revenue at these big companies. That’s what Fullcast is going to do with the software that we’ve acquired and moved to Salt Lake. 

RM: When you look at Salesforce, which is the leading CRM and big sales operations, and you look at Fullcast, how do you differentiate yourself? 

RW: We’re focused on: How do you build out a territory? How do you actually break it down? And how do you manage leads? Where Salesforce is much more about managing customer data, and it’s a CRM, we’re focusing on a niche or area and your go-to-market. 

We’re very complementary to Salesforce, not competing against them. My view on this is, a company like Salesforce would benefit heavily from having something like Fullcast. 

RW: If you’re a sales manager, and you’ve got a team, at what point would you need a software like Salesforce or Fullcast? 

RW: For Salesforce, I’d say right out of the gate. For Fullcast, you need to have about 50 salespeople. 

RM: Are you looking to possibly be acquired? 

RW: No, I think I’ve been down that road before. We’ve done it a few times. I want to create a big company here in Utah that employs a lot of people. We’re not doing this to create a small business. We’re in a position where we can really do some magnificent things in tech and leave a mark on Utah in general. 

One of the things that I think entrepreneurs need to realize in Utah is how fortunate we are. You have those tech companies that came before, that seeded and made a lot of people wealthy. Then, that created the venture capital, which created the angel investors that supported my company.

Ultimately, when entrepreneurs show up in Utah, and they have fundraised three, four or $5 million, they should recognize that 15 years ago, entrepreneurs were flying to the Bay, going onto Sand Hill Road, and knocking on doors because there were very few options here. 

Now, they can do all that right here in Utah. We have all those options. And so that’s the thing that I think maybe some entrepreneurs—that history you’re talking about—the history of what brought us here, I think it’s really important to understand how we got here, and why we’re so fortunate.

Want to hear the entire interview? Click here. 

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