What I’ve Learned So Far and What’s Important Moving Forward as the New INTELITY
Looking back on INTELITY’s first 10 years, I think about how much I’ve learned as its founder and first CEO for the past 10 years. I’m truly excited about what is yet to come in these next 10 years, now that we have merged with KEYPR and have developed into an even stronger brand with a more complete, integrated hospitality technology platform. Building this business from the ground up wasn’t always easy, but it has absolutely been the most rewarding thing I’ve done in my professional life.
Here are some of the biggest lessons I’ve learned about leading and growing a SaaS company in the hospitality industry.
1. It’s about the people
A satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all. – Michael LeBoeuf
Before I started INTELITY, I worked as a hotelier, which is where I learned that guests are truly the foundation of this business. It was true in the hotel business, and it’s still true now at INTELITY. We deliver what hoteliers need, but most importantly, we deliver what their hotel guests want. Putting guests first is our recipe for success.
2. Customer success is everyone’s job
The golden rule for every business man is this: “Put yourself in your customer’s place.” – Orison Swett Marden
Sales, implementations, engineering, and marketing can be functions that only the specific teams responsible for them worry about. But customer success needs to be something that everyone on the team internalizes. One thing I’ve learned along the way is that the best measure of success is when a customer or brand hires us again. We can deliver 110 percent of what a hotel needs, but if they aren’t delighted with the experience and willing to hire us again, then we’ve missed the mark.
3. Selling SaaS for hotels is fulfilling
Choose a job that you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. – Confucius
When hotels purchase INTELITY, they buy a solution to a problem that is often very painful. Checking in with hoteliers who are using INTELITY and realizing that they’re either more efficient now or making more money as a direct result of using our tool is incredibly rewarding.
4. Remain Agile
I am a man of fixed and unbending principles, the first of which is to be flexible at all times. – Everett Dirksen
Being flexible in mind, in practice, and in structure has served us well. Technology changes so rapidly. The INTELITY platform was first designed as a web experience, and then for touch screen, then mobile, and now voice. If you don’t change, you get left behind.
5. Discovery never ends
Our business is about technology, yes. But it’s also about operations and customer relationships. – Michael Dell
When a deal closes or implementation ends, don’t convince yourself that discovery is over. It’s crucial that your discovery never ends because customers will keep having new problems. Use current customers to help inform your roadmap, and make sure your tools are matching their pace of innovation.
6. It takes more than tech to build a terrific tech company
Tech is all about building human connections. – Padmasree Warrior
You need more than tech to build a genuinely successful tech company. Customers care much more about the problems your product can solve than the elegant design or ingenious implementation of your solution.
7. Celebrate the wins and understand the losses
It’s fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure. – Bill Gates
One of my favorite INTELITY traditions is ringing the bell every time a hotel goes live with our platform. Celebrating every hotel and every achievement along the way is important. And it’s just as important to understand the losses. Both the “what” and the “why” are important and what’s most crucial is reacting to those and learning to win again.
8. Maintain your integrity and vision
Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion. – Jack Welch
I believe that integrity and vision are among the most significant roles of the executive team. It’s so important to be able to communicate the company’s vision and reinforce it by every means possible. And when you lead with integrity, you inspire your employees to engage with the same values.
9. Don’t be the smartest person in the room—be the strongest collaborator, connector, and communicator
I think it’s important for people to stay human and remember that genuine human connection is more fulfilling than anything that technology has to offer. – Jon Batiste
Nobody does it alone. It takes a lot of people working together, so be the one helping those people function at their best.
10. It always takes longer than you expect
The two most powerful warriors are patience and time. – Leo Tolstoy
It takes time to educate the market as to why your company and product matter. Over the past 10 years, INTELITY has created and delivered only to need to recreate and then deliver again. That’s the way it works. Success is never accidental—you earn it over time through excellence and hard work.
The past 10 years with INTELITY have been a great journey and I look forward to seeing where the next 10 years take the company. Our merger with KEYPR has created new opportunities for the company, opening the door for us to expand into the casino, cruise, luxury residential, and other emerging markets. As we move into this new chapter, I look forward to the company’s continued growth and development and am excited to see where the future will take us.