The dilemma of Chinese startups going globalNovember 16, 2022
Scaling up: How founder CEOs and teams can go beyond aspiration to ascentNovember 23, 2022
By Verne Harnish
InfoTrust helps giant brands such as L’Oréal, Johnson & Johnson and Nestle make better decisions using data. The Cincinnati-based company, a Google Analytics certified partner, helps clients improve their digital marketing by using intuitive analytics, data governance and technology solutions.
InfoTrust has differentiated itself in a crowded field by serving as an unbiased advisor to clients. Unlike many competitors, it does not sell media. Its team is also known for creating Tag Inspector, a tool that lets marketers audit and monitor all of a website’s tags, to make sure their data collection is compliant.
“There is a lot of disruption in the industry,” says Alex Yastrebenetsky, CEO. “We’re staying on the cutting edge.”
Mastering the Scaling Up platform has powered the company’s scale-up to $35 million in annual revenue, with 45 employees. Yastrebenetsky attended our CEO Bootcamp in 2018 when the company was at $8 million in annual revenue and then brought his leadership team to several Scaling Up summits over the last five years. They work with Scaling Up certified coach Marshall Martin—which has brought confidence as their industry copes with a downturn.
“When business gets tough, you need to double down on coaching,” says Yastrebenetsky. “The right coach is going to help you get through a downturn—not just survive but kick other people’s butts.”
Here is how he has put the company on the fast track.
Putting people first
From the time InfoTrust was founded in 2005, culture has been a priority. The company was an early adopter of flexible work and has built an environment that celebrates learning through initiatives such as BetterBookClub, reading great business books as a team to support leadership development initiatives.
Beyond this, InfoTrust—which has grown to include four additional offices in Barcelona, Chicago, Cebu City, Philippines, and Dubai—has created a highly competitive compensation package that helps it attract and retain “A” players.
That includes fully-paid health insurance, parental leave (12 weeks of paid time off and 12 weeks of a reduced schedule for all new parents), a 401(k) with a generous company match, tuition reimbursement and catered lunches every day. InfoTrust’s paid time off policy treats team members like adults, with the company’s website describing it as, “Time off when you need it most, no questions asked.”
Thanks to efforts like this, InfoTrust has racked up multiple awards: AdAge’s Best Places to Work 2021, FORTUNE’s Best Small and Medium Workplaces 2021 and Crain’s Cleveland Business’s Best Employers in Ohio, to name a few.
Envisioning a bold future
One of InfoTrust’s most powerful tools is a formal strategy team. It is led by a director of strategy whose job is to “think things up, support sales efforts and train the rest of the team,” says Yastrebenetsky. The company recently launched a formal R&D team, as well, with the goal of getting stronger at productizing its innovation. Using the Scaling Up platform, in conjunction with the Vivid Vision document, the company recently refreshed its Core Values, Mission and Purpose.
Working with Martin, its team has focused on making its Core Values more action-oriented, which has made it easier to weave them into the fabric of daily life at the company. The Core Values are now Earn Trust, Be Respectful, Promote Diversity, Take Ownership, Grow Every Day and Contribute with Passion.
“There was a big change in our Core Values when we added an action verb in front of them,” says Yastrebenetsky.
Embracing a playbook
When it came to Execution, Yastrebenetsky found that following the Scaling Up platform to a “T,” and training his team to be equally disciplined about using it as an operating system, freed his mind to work on the bigger picture of the business. The company uses execution software to keep everyone accountable.
“Doing things by the book means you can save your creative energy to change things that really need to be changed,” says Yastrebenetsky. As CEO, he frequently reminds himself, “Follow the playbook, so you can spend your energy fighting fires that need to be fought.”
Setting bold goals around cash
With the right systems in place, InfoTrust, listed on the Inc. 5000, is aiming to grow revenue to $100 million in three to five years and to generate $1 million annually for the InfoTrust Foundation, a private charitable foundation funded with company profits. One key step toward achieving this goal was hiring a CFO recently. “If there is one thing I regret, it is that I did not hire a CFO sooner,” says Yastrebenetsky.
From fiscal 2020 to fiscal 2022, the foundation donated more than $400,000 to causes such as Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, the anti-trafficking group Operation Underground Railroad and Feeding America, which fights hunger. The company has also committed 1% of its billable time to pro bono services.
With a recession hitting the technology industry, Yastrebenetsky is now using the Scaling Up platform to stay focused and keep cash flowing—and relying on coaching to keep everyone accountable, including himself. “When the economy is good, it’s easy to think, ‘I’m an amazing CEO,’” he says. “When you’re in a downturn, that’s when you need a coach, not just for you but for your team.”