Software product development company RevUnit may be happily based in the South, but recently it’s been seeking its fortune out west.
In late April, the Bentonville, Ark.-based company acquired Teamvvork (pronounced “teamwork”), a Las Vegas-based digital marketing agency that served big-name clients like Steve Madden and Allegiant Air.
The deal came as something of a surprise to those who remember RevUnit CEO Joe Saumweber telling Arkansas Business back in 2013 that his company was targeting Dallas and St. Louis as high-growth markets. But Saumweber can explain: In 2014, after RevUnit acquired the Las Vegas-based firm SmashMetrics, one of the principals there, Seth Waite, took on the role of chief growth officer for RevUnit. Hence, when your chief growth officer lives and works in Las Vegas, opportunities for growth tend to present themselves there.
“We still have strong commitments in St. Louis and Dallas, but Vegas has become a big potential market for us,” says Saumweber. “We love its proximity to the west coast—as people get priced out of those markets, they tend to move in. Zappos, for instance, has their headquarters there. That’s just the kind of company we look to serve.”
Founded in September 2012, the brainchild of Saumweber and Michael Paladino, RevUnit specializes in “workplace transformation,” that is, creating custom software for front-line employees of national and multinational companies, many of which are headquartered in the South or not far outside: Virgin Hotels (Miami), AutoZone (Memphis), Mary Kay Cosmetics (Addison, Texas), Purina (St. Louis), and its Bentonville neighbor, Walmart.
The great opportunity in his line of work, Saumweber posits, is that so many employees’ digital experiences lag behind customers’ digital experience.
“People have access to the best consumer digital experiences available when they search, shop or consider travel options,” he says. “But when they’re on the clock, this same population encounters tech that is easily eight to ten years behind the curve of their experiences as consumers. Interfaces are clunky, devices are low-performance, and the overall user experience is frustrating.”
The reason for the clunkiness is that, too often in the past, companies approached their software needs from an architectural standpoint: defining the structured solution that meets all the technical and operational requirements while optimizing performance and security. Getting everything to work, in other words. What set RevUnit apart is that they start from the point of usability.
“The first thing we do is gain empathy for those front-line employees who experience the software on a day-to-day basis,” Saumweber says. “It requires a lot of observation, talking with associates, shadowing. And we have to do that in multiple locations because it’s different market to market. Then it’s a few short days building a prototype of a solution so we can take it back to those same users to see how to make it better. Every organization is different, so solutions need to be customized. There’s no ‘off-the-shelf’ product.”
RevUnit also practices what it preaches, providing a positive culture for its 50-plus employees with twice yearly weeklong retreats and emotional intelligence training sessions, as well as an open feedback environment.
What’s especially exciting for Saumweber and Paladino—as well as RevUnit overall—is that this need for user-friendly software solutions cuts across so many industries.
“The fact is, the pace of technology is not going to slow down, so it’s incumbent upon us to build tech that is easier to adopt,” Saumweber says. “Transportation, healthcare, retail—every single industry is being touched by this right now. We operate across industries for that reason.
“We like to solve big, hairy problems for some of the world’s largest companies. And we’re good at what we do.”