Who is Venn Technology?
In this sit-down interview, Melissa Bell, Director of Marketing, asks Scott Hollrah, Venn Founder & CEO, how he started Venn Technology and what the company’s future looks like as it continues to grow.
Venn Technology's Origin Story: How It All Began
Melissa: Scott, it’s been eight years since you started the company as a one-man show out of your home office. Can you tell us how and why you wanted to start your own technology consulting business?
Scott: It’s still crazy to hear it’s been eight years already! Honestly, I can probably trace my entrepreneurial roots all the way back to my childhood. I can remember as a kid, I was maybe five or six years old at the time, emptying my junk drawer in my bedroom with the intent to sell my items door-to-door. Needless to say, none of my neighbors took pity on me, but I think it’s always been in my blood.
The first time I ever really thought about starting my own company was during undergrad at Texas A&M. I was working toward a marketing degree at the time, and I vividly remember something a guest speaker said in one of my classes—she talked about the freedom that she had in running her own business. And, from that moment I said to myself, “I don’t know what it’s going to be, but someday I’m going to work for myself.”
Melissa: As a fellow marketing enthusiast, I’m happy to hear someone in marketing played a role in your decision to start a business. So, what did your career path look like after college?
Scott: My dream job coming out of college was to work for a big ad agency either in Dallas or Austin. That dream didn’t quite come true. Instead, I ended up becoming a one-man marketing department for an aviation services company. Looking back, I learned way more than I would have had I got into the agency world. I had the opportunity to do every aspect of marketing. I moved on from that company after a year and, along my career journey, discovered a powerful tool called Salesforce. I’ve always been a techy kind of guy, but I had never done any sort of coding—and this is still true many years later.
I became very intrigued by what could be built without code in Salesforce and I quickly became hooked. I wanted to put my new skills to use, so I started working for a platinum partner in the Salesforce ecosystem. The job came with great benefits and I really enjoyed working with the team, but I still had the itch to build something on my own.
Melissa: What was that “ah-ha” moment that led to going off on your own?
Scott: The tipping point for me was a very difficult day, with a difficult client, following a difficult meeting. It was then and there I decided something needed to change.
I spent a lot of time in prayer and seeking the wise counsel of others before taking that leap of faith in January 2015. I started Venn out of my home office as a Salesforce consulting business—I was selling the work, doing the work, following up on the work, and billing the work on my own. I did this for about a year until meeting and hiring Chase Friedman, a fellow Texas Aggie, who had similar interests in technology.
Melissa: I commend you. That takes a lot of courage to leave the comforts of a typical 9-5. Did you have any fears going into it?
Scott: Absolutely. You have to strike the right balance between knowing your limits and taking reasonable risks, but the reality is, there is never a good time in life to start a business. I’ve heard it said before, “If you wait for the perfect conditions to plant your crop, it’ll never happen.”
The other thing I’ll say is, the fears change along the way when you’re a founder. They evolve as the business evolves. It begins with the question, “Am I going to be able to feed my family doing this?” Then, as the business grows and you bring on more people, the question becomes, “I can feed my family, now can I feed theirs?”
The questions are different now than they were then, but I’m so glad I took the risk. I look around at our office and the size of our team now, and I’m so proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish in the last eight years.
Not to mention, in the beginning, Venn started as a Salesforce consulting firm that happened to do some integration work. Now, we have evolved into more of an integration-first company that also specializes in CRM implementation and optimization.
Melissa: It’s been really fun to be a part of that growth even since I joined Venn. Especially given the challenges and uncertainty many businesses faced during the Covid-19 pandemic.
How Venn got its name & logo
Melissa: I’d like to backtrack just for a second. Can you talk about how you decided to name the company “Venn Technology?”
Scott: The name itself is a play on Venn diagrams. In particular, the three rings in our logo stand for People, Processes, and Technology. We believe that these three elements of an organization can make or break an integration or implementation project. People come to us to address concerns with their technology, but it’s pivotal that we check in on their people and processes as well to ensure everything is aligned.
Melissa: How did you design Venn’s logo?
Scott: Man, I’m no graphic designer. Even though I graduated with a degree in marketing, I was not prepared to design every asset for the brand. Before hiring an outside agency in 2018, I created the first version of the logo with a generator I found online. It ended up not looking too shabby, and I can at least say the designer of our current logo had something good to work off of!
Bjørn Koding: Addressing the Yeti in the room
Melissa: Okay, this is a question we get asked all the time—what’s with the yeti? Who is Bjørn Koding and why is he important to the Venn brand?
Scott: Bjørn is super important to Venn! One of the great things about starting your own company is the ability to shape your own culture. Something you should know about me is that I love the YETI brand—all of the coolers, cups, and koozies. I like to give gifts that I would personally enjoy, so when our team started attending conferences, we chose YETI coolers as our booth’s giveaway item.
Sometime in 2018 when we were working with Misfit Brands, the idea of creating a company mascot was thrown around. After some discussion, someone in the room said, “I have a really stupid idea.” Anytime someone says that around here, especially within the context of marketing, it usually turns into a really great campaign. We asked ourselves the question, “Wouldn’t it be cool to win a YETI… from a yeti?" I was totally on board with doing something out of the ordinary, and I eagerly hopped online and ordered a couple of suits. Over the years we’ve developed the yeti’s persona, giving him the name Bjørn Koding, and incorporating him into our brand identity.
You’ll continue to see lots of Bjørn in the future and more on his backstory, but we can definitely confirm, Bjørn has a pretty loyal fanbase.
Venn partners, customers, and team members participating in Venn's Bjørn to Automate campaign during Sage Transform 2022.
Venn Technology's Core Values
Melissa: As an entrepreneur, how did you approach building and establishing a company culture for Venn?
Scott: I’ve always been drawn to culture. That’s one of the things I loved about Texas A&M. From the moment I stepped on campus, I felt a sense of unity and camaraderie. There probably isn’t enough time to talk about all the various traditions A&M has, but the best way to sum it up is when someone does or says something, everyone knows how to respond.
In terms of how I went about defining the culture for Venn, it started with building the kind of company that I would want to work for. Cliché as it might be, I didn’t want to work 60-80 hours a week. I wanted a work-life balance for the team. That’s not to say we don’t have long hours or long weeks. We can have some brutal weeks, but we don’t want that to be the norm, and we mix in other activities to make it fun.
Our core values are a big part of maintaining the culture as we grow, so we make a conscious effort to keep them front in center in everything that we do.
Melissa: Can you summarize what each of those are and why they’re important?
One Team is all about recognizing our strength in numbers when we work together toward a common goal. Even though Venn started as a one-man show, I understand that for the company to grow, I’d need people with a team mentality to do it. I have observed organizations where you have to step on someone else to get ahead. That isn’t healthy, its not the kind of organization I would want to be a part of. I decided early that we’re going to succeed together and stub our toe together - we win or lose as a team.
Delighted Partners speaks to the idea that we never want to be viewed as a vendor to anyone. Instead, we want both our clients and referral partners to see us as a long-term partner in technology. When they win, we win.
Continuous Learning is a necessity when you’re working with such a wide variety of technology applications like we do on a daily basis. With new features being released all the time, our team staying on top of the latest features and trends not only enables us to deliver new solutions for clients, but it creates more revenue opportunities for our partners too.
Responsible Stewardship places an emphasis on maximizing the team and resources we have at our disposal. Our people need to have an owner’s mentality and constantly be asking, “If this were my time or money, would I spend it this way?” That also applies to how we view our interactions with our customers. They are making an investment in their business when they work with Venn. We need to make sure they are able to maximize the return.
Compounding Growth is best summed up like this: if we aren’t growing, we’re shrinking, and if we’re shrinking, we’re dying. Growth means that we can take on more clients, bring more people into our unique culture, and help more referral partners win business.
Rewarding Work speaks to the meaningful impact we have on our clients, partners, and team members internally. We spend way too much of our time at work to not enjoy what we’re doing, who we do it with, and the businesses we do it for. Our work becomes rewarding when it is greater than the money or tasks we’re accomplishing.
Melissa: How do you summarize what Venn does for people who have never heard of us before?
Scott: We implement systems and automate manual workflows that free people to focus on what they are best at.
Melissa: Well said. What have been some of your proudest moments since starting Venn?
Scott: There are a lot, but the first time we made the Aggie 100 list of fastest-growing companies is definitely one I’ll never forget. I am also really proud of making Dallas Business Journal’s Best Places to Work list because it reinforces everything we’re doing to make this a place people want to be a part of. I was also honored when Venn was recognized not once–but twice–as the Sage Intacct Marketplace Partner of the Year. That’s not one of those awards you apply for. It’s a true testament to the work our team is doing, the partners we help win business, and the clients benefitting from the solutions we build.
Melissa: I love awards season! That’s a lot to be proud of.
Learn more about how Venn can automate your business
As a two-time Sage Intacct Marketplace Partner of the Year, Venn Technology has helped many small to medium-sized businesses and nonprofits connect other systems to Sage Intacct, seamlessly. In providing automated solutions over the years, the Venn Team has developed a deep understanding of the way teams use Sage Intacct and not just the technical aspects alone.
Aside from our expertise in Sage Intacct and Salesforce, we have ties in other software ecosystems. Venn Technology is a proud partner of Salesforce, HubSpot, Stripe, and Acumatica. We’ve integrated hundreds of business applications and tools—from CRMs and ERPs to Payment Processors and Finance Management platforms.
If you’ve ever considered an integration or are in the process of looking for the right technology partner, Venn is happy to answer any questions and explore your most complex processes to execute a solution that suits your team.