Grant Gochnauer and his Vodori co-founders previously worked for a medium-sized consulting company that worked to deliver a range of healthcare solutions when they realized that they could deliver significantly more value to customers by offering a holistic suite of services (strategy, technology, design) coupled with a better platform to optimize digital marketing operations.
It began in 2005 when all the founders resigned simultaneously and set up shop in the basement of two of the co-founders. Vodori started with a business plan and the founders' aggregated networks and has grown into a leading marketing platform for companies in the life sciences industry. Through a unique integration of their platform, consulting services, and insights, Vodori helps companies market, sell and service their solutions by optimizing their digital marketing operations.
As a first step to establish the Vodori brand, they built an e-commerce solution for the Chicago based restaurant Sopprafina. The praise from the exceptional work, dedicated and charismatic team began to spread. After their non-compete expired, they competed for business at their previous customers and rebuilt those relationships as Vodorians, slowly re-secured a trusted partnership that still thrives today. Over the next 5 years, Vodori supported itself from the revenue they received building out its significant consulting capabilities.
With a flourishing consulting business, the founders wanted to tackle the next big step: building a product as outlined in their original business plan. In 2011, Pepper was introduced. Pepper is a platform that enables marketers to manage, approve, publish and withdraw content on a global scale from one place. Building Pepper allowed Vodori clients to integrate the consulting and platform into what Grant calls a "gift-basket."
"Clients saw immediate improvements in key operational metrics such as cycle time to review and publish content globally. The way we partner with our customers allows us to build better products by learning from direct feedback and insights," Grant said.
From these insights, the Vodori team was able to find a gap in the market on the compliance side of healthcare solutions. There are only a handful of players in the market and Vodori hopes to act on closing this gap within the next 1-3 years.
A growing business has to account for change. As a company grows and evolves, it needs to build in mechanisms to scale and stay effective as everything around it changes: market, technology, customers, opportunities, etc. To account for this, Grant and his co-founders, supported by numerous Vodorians kicked off a new way of organizing teams, breaking work down, making work visible, and delivering and measuring value to customers. This effort which began in July 2015 required us to create ways to integrate continuous improvement through concepts such as Principal of Mission, feedback loops and iteration, and balancing standardization against letting teams determine best approach to complete work. With over 50 employees, this change can take time. The progress made thus far is quite staggering, but the mindset of continuous improvement and evolution will never stop.
"Culture is such a contributing factor to the success of Vodori. We strongly believe that our success is directly attributable to our customer’s success. If our customer’s don’t succeed, we fail. I’m extremely proud of the team and culture we’ve fostered at Vodori. We created an environment of transparency, trust and honesty," he said, "Our clients are our partners and we build things together with them."
That culture and lasting strength of Vodori is credited to the unique relationship among the three founders. "The founding team's relationship is everything. People joke that it is like a marriage; You date for a while to figure out how things work and if you jump into it too quickly without understanding them at a deeper level, there could be major issues that arise," Grant explained.
When asked what advice he would give to other founders, Grant said, "Don't get caught up in what others tell you are best practices because each business is different. Different values, missions, products, teams and workflows. The overall growth of a business varies greatly."
"Find a mentor or experienced entrepreneur that has been through what you are experiencing," he continued, "Their insight into those experiences is much more valuable than what you could read in a few medium.com blog posts. And lastly, really understand what type of leader you are and how that fits into the team that you've built.
With a focus on their customer's success and how Vodori can catapult itself into a new market, the company is sure to continue the success they have built since 2005.
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