Rick and has been a software entrepreneur and CEO most of his professional life. He co-founded Mindbody (Nasdaq: “MB”) in 2000 and has grown the company from a garage concept to a publicly-traded company. MindBody, which is a leading SAAS company serving the wellness and spa sector, started off as a desktop software company in the early 2000’s and bravely migrated to a SAAS delivery in 2006 as a very early adopter of this deployment model. Salesforce.com, which was and remains at the vanguard of SAAS through secure cloud hosting, was not widely accepted during that period by industry as a secure and efficient platform for service delivery. It was a bold move, which paid off richly to MindBody’s employees and investors.
Rick grew up in southern California and then moved back east to attend the Naval Academy for college. He graduated in 1987 and for the following six years worked as a submarine officer for the US Navy. From 1994 to 2000, Rick embarked on his career and in his words things did not take off until, to put it simply, he changed his mindset. A client of his recommended he read Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits book, and in Rick’s words, it changed the way he looked at the world and indirectly paved the way for his future success as an entrepreneur and business leader.
We appreciate Rick trekking down to Santa Barbara from San Luis Obispo for this talk. It should be a great event!
Here are the takeaways from the discussion with Rick Stollmeyer:
Interesting turning point ten years into his career. Rick was 34 when he saw the Stephen Covey DVD at Starbucks and decided to pop it in during his drive through Topanga Canyon in west LA. The wisdom of the “power of response” mindset hit him like a ton of bricks and his whole world changed from that point forward. Rick also related this concept to the Travis Kalanick video crisis with an observations this might have been a scenario where he didn’t need to get caught up in the noise – where the big picture was a passionate stakeholder with a big heart for the Uber business and wanting it to thrive.
Staying close to customers is the oxygen of his company. Rick shared that, plain and simple, it is what keeps his company alive. He feels centered only when he is close with his customers. Fact: his company thrives or suffers proportionately to how close they stay to their customers.
In international markets, don’t forget that marketing to early adopters is different than marketing to mainstream business users. Rick made the point that early adopters in global markets are always the innovators and relate more to existing features requiring less localization. It is folly to conclude that because these influential innovators embrace existing product that major localization efforts are not required for further market penetration.
Not a single regret when his team decided to stay narrow versus go wider. At one time, they won a bid from one of the largest prospects in the industry after a 9 month competitive process. The company demanded a statement of work that would require constant customization of the software platform. Rick turned down a deal that would have increased their revenues by more than 30%. The deal ultimately brought major havoc on a competitor that took on the business.