Q & A with the Vodori Founders: Stories from the Past and Predictions for the Future
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At Vodori, we are lucky to collaborate daily with a group of founders who share some common qualities that impact all of us on the team. First, they’re accessible—their doors are always open for conversation, guidance or a laugh. Next, they’re extremely professional—they treat all Vodorians with respect, courtesy and kindness. And finally, they’re all passionate about creating solutions that impact people’s lives for the better. We see this manifest in different ways— in their leadership on consulting projects with our clients, in roadmap planning for our product suite, Pepper Cloud®, and in their everyday decision making for the company. Read on to learn more about the founding of Vodori, from the early days to now, in this Q & A with our three founders, Scott Rovegno, Stacy Wolters, and Grant Gochnauer.
You founded Vodori in 2005. What first inspired you to join together and form the company?
Grant, Stacy and I met at Braun Consulting in the early 2000s. Our work with life science clients back then was usually rooted in some sort of website development and the software and infrastructure was crazy expensive. Our clients’ approaches for reviewing and approving content were also wildly inefficient. We were convinced there was a better way to create common technology platforms that served as a center of excellence for marketing.
After working with so many clients we saw a clear pattern develop in the types of solutions our clients desired to create in order to help them achieve their business goals. We strongly believed there was a huge opportunity to develop a software solution to fit that need.
We believed in the idea of leveraging open source technologies to build marketing platforms in a way that significantly reduces the cost and risk for our customers. We actually pitched an idea for building a reusable marketing platform targeting healthcare companies to our company’s leadership team but it wasn’t the right fit or right time for them. When they passed on the idea, we decided to pursue the opportunity anyway—on our own. Hello, Vodori.
You established these core values when you founded Vodori: Extraordinary Service, Teamwork, Humility, and Continuous Improvement. Set the stage for us. How did you first come up with these?
A few years into the company, we wanted to codify the values that we were already embodying within our culture (knowingly or not). We asked every Vodorian to submit the values that they believed best represented each of us. It was astonishing to see the consistent themes emerge from the submissions—so much so that collapsing the submissions into the final core values was a simple word choice exercise. It was one of those moments as a founder that makes you extremely proud of the team and family that you’ve assembled. The core values we established over 10 years ago still form the foundation of our culture today.
The founders also shared these core values from the start.
We grew up with some pretty amazing strategic leadership. We were surrounded with a ton of amazingly bright co-workers that busted their butts, had a love for learning, always treated the customer as #1, and perhaps most importantly—they were extremely humble and treated everyone with respect.
What do the Vodori core values mean to you? Why was it important to establish them and make them known for all future employees?
The core values should shape our culture—and if done right, when customers work with us, they should experience an amazing team that’s not going to quit killing it until we’ve reached success. And that team is respectful, bright, and challenging the customer to think in new ways – pushing them outside of their comfort zone.
It should be clear to our employees (new and existing) what Vodori stands for, and hopefully make them proud to work with an amazing team.
Vodori is both a product and services company, which we see reflected in the Pepper Product Suite and the consulting, creative and digital services teams. Why did you choose this dual working model when you started the company?
We set out to productize open source solutions for healthcare and, with our consulting backgrounds, it made sense to also build a services organization—something we knew quite well. One of the significant benefits of our consulting business is that it teaches us what our customers and market want and what problems they are trying to solve, which we can then weave into our product offerings. Healthcare is a complex domain and the best way to learn all the nuances is to get in there and solve problems. Consulting allowed (and continues to allow) us to do that.
You’ve built your careers in the complex world of life science content management. Over the years, what industry practice, change or trend has most surprised or delighted you?
It has been great to see the risk aversion of our industry accurately decode the circumstances of SaaS platforms. Prior to 2005, it was unheard of that life sciences companies’ data would be colocated into a single database. Fast-forward to present day and the rapid “catching up” of life sciences to mainstream consumer businesses has been lighting fast. Even the FDA is making a concerted effort to bring more objectivity and pragmatism to its guidance in the face of ever-changing attitudes towards risk management.
In your opinion, where is life science content management headed? What predictions do you have for the future of the industry?
I think we will continue to see the consumerization of healthcare, across every aspect possible. Mobility, connectivity, patient experiences—the driving force of satisfying ever changing, ever more demanding patient expectations will continue to force industry and regulators to adapt or literally die off (if industry) or get replaced by the next administration (if regulators).
As other industries work to incorporate emerging tech like AI and machine learning, it will be interesting to see how much of the wide world of content in healthcare will be impacted by algorithms, machines, and automation. Much like the reversion in retail and especially grocery stores, I think we will see a pullback to humans—small neighborhood retailers displacing chains and grocery stores, offering high touch, personalized, high quality products. I think we’ll see this play out in content as well—yes, automation and algorithms will take an increasingly strategic role in analytics for example, but the critical, personal, emotional aspects of great storytelling, great marketing, will still require smart, creative human beings—for a long time to come.
What excites you the most about the future of Vodori?
I’m tremendously excited to get Pepper Flow® in front of more customers and to hear their feedback. I think we’ve built a best-in-class product that changes the notion that promotional review software has to be complex, clunky, and unintuitive. It’s tremendously rewarding to hear how our products are enhancing our customer’s ability to get their devices and therapies to market.
I also look forward to watching the consulting business continue to excel, delivering tremendous value to our clients as we continue to deliver across a broad set of strategic priorities for them. We have a knack for solving the really hard problems and I expect this to continue with even more examples.
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