We sat down with Janet Stiller, President and CEO of Lucidia IT, a trailblazing company in the male-dominated IT industry.

The company has experienced significant growth over the past few years and was a top 3 fastest growing privately held company in Indiana in 2023, according to the Inc 5000 list. 

Janet shares her early career experiences, from selling copiers to becoming a leading figure in IT, emphasizing the importance of ownership, intuition, and a strong work ethic. We cover the challenges and strategies in scaling a business, the role of culture and team dynamics in growth, and the support network for entrepreneurs. 

Janet also reflects on the processes and technologies that have been foundational to Lucidia IT’s success. She also dives into the way persistence and maintaining integrity have shaped her journey. Additionally, we all touch upon the importance of culture, the impact of mentorship, and the drive necessary to succeed in entrepreneurship.

  • 00:54 Introducing Janet Stiller: A Trailblazer in IT
  • 02:40 Janet’s Journey: From Purdue to IT Pioneer
  • 06:46 The Entrepreneurial Spirit: Ownership and Ambition
  • 08:12 Starting Lucidia: Challenges and Triumphs
  • 18:32 Sales Philosophy: Beyond the Commission
  • 20:49 Lucidia’s Ideal Customer and Growth Strategy
  • 22:55 Navigating Gender Bias in Business
  • 23:31 The Struggle for Credit and Equality
  • 24:41 Building a Diverse Team and Overcoming Challenges
  • 27:21 Achieving Remarkable Growth and Recognition
  • 30:37 The Importance of Processes and Technology in Scaling
  • 40:33 Cultivating a Strong Company Culture for Success
  • 42:33 Lightning Round: Fun Insights and Personal Favorites

Get IN. is the show focused on the unfolding stories and most extraordinary innovations happening in the heartland today. The show is hosted by Matt Hunckler, CEO of Powderkeg and Nate Spangle, Head of Community at Powderkeg.

By listening to this episode you will learn:

  • Ingredients Of Entrepreneurship
  • Scalable Employee Culture
  • How to build a strong leadership core with diverse players

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Episode Transcript

Matt: From the crossroads of America and the Hoosier state of Indiana. This is Get IN the……..podcast focused on the unfolding stories and extraordinary innovations happening right now in the heartland. I’m Matt Hunkler, CEO of Powderkeg, and I’ll be one of your hosts for today’s conversation. I’m joined in studio by co host Christopher “Toph” Day, hello, literal CEO at Elevate Ventures and Nate Spangle, head of community at Powderkeg.

And you will notice we are wearing our sweet water gear today. And that is because we just got back from Fort Wayne, Indiana. Touring the headquarters of Sweetwater. Got some sweet gear, so we have to represent.

Nate: Get some sweet gear from Sweetwater. Absolutely. I love Sweetwater. I can’t wait to buy more gear from there.

I know, right?

Matt: I just bought some. Oh, I love it. Black Friday weekend. Uh, on the show today is Janet Stiller, President and CEO at Lucidia IT. And I’m sure we’ll get some sweet gear from Lucidia at some point so we can represent on a future show.

Janet: I’ve always thought that From an entrepreneurship, you either kind of have it or you don’t.

I always approached my jobs, even though I wasn’t management, I was my own owner. Regardless, I mean, I took care of my customers, but I also, I was protective of the company as well and took that ownership and that mentality of going after the thing I was selling.

Toph: Yeah, it’s almost like you’re, when you take ownership, it’s almost like you’re running a business within the business.

You are. And that, and that is a massive,

Janet: You are.

Toph: Impact. Yeah. Possibly to the business. And your, and your life.

Matt: Janet Stiller is the president and CEO of Lucidia IT and she is a trailblazer in the male dominated world of IT. Under her leadership, Lucidia IT has surged from number 482 to It’s number 396 on the 2023 Inc 5000 list specializing in data center solutions, enterprise networking and cloud technologies.

With over 20 years in the I. T. and value added reseller space, Stiller’s entrepreneurial journey is marked by a commitment to a strong work ethic and a keen trust in intuition. Which is very evident in her instinctive decision making process when selecting business partners. Very excited to talk to her today as a proud woman owner.

Stiller is not only shaping the success of Lucidia IT, but also paving the way for the next generation of female leaders in the IT industry. Janet, welcome to get in.

Janet: Thank you so much for having me in here. I’m excited to be here. I’m so pumped to have you.

Nate: Janet didn’t know if I could, when I was doing my, I call it research.

Some people call it internet stalking. She didn’t know if I could find that much on her. And I said, I found some good stuff. Found some good stuff. Some sweet gems.

Matt: Janet, I am so excited to learn a little bit more about your story, Lucidio’s story. But particularly wanted to just understand how you first got into IT in the first place.

What were some of your earliest memories of IT? Being exposed to technology, some of the new and innovative things are happening earlier on in your life

Janet: when I started. Um, I had graduated from Purdue and I went to a headhunter to help find a job, right? And I wanted to go into pharmaceutical sales because at that point, Oh, that was a

Toph: Heyday back then, right?

That was the job. I mean, a couple years ago.

Janet: Yeah.

Toph: Yeah.

Janet: You know, like the mid 90s. Ish.

Nate: Ish. Grade time. Grade time in the world. You two might have been in the same class at Purdue. We might have been. We might have been. I’m a

Toph: 92 grad.

Janet: I beat you. I’m an 88. Oh, nice. I like

Toph: it.

Janet: So anyway, um, I went to a headhunter and they’re like, you need to get some sales experience.

You go sell some copiers and come back. So I went to Pitney Bowes and sold copiers and I was like, I am not going back to that headhunter again because he was, you know, whatever. She was like, so I went to this headhunter and they’re like, Hey, you’ve got your two years in. I did very well. And um, I really want to be a pharmaceutical sales rep again.

They’re like, well, I’ve got this great. Opportunity. It’s hardware. And I think you’ll really like this gentleman. And, um, I had the interview and I loved him and he has been a mentor of me ever since Steve Bullington, he works, you know what, he was just a good dude and he was the best manager I’ve ever worked for.

And he wanted to promote and educate myself and, but family was first. And I worked at Ameritech and was, I did very well. I was the number one rep for several years in the mid state area for five years.

Toph: Wow.

Janet: So that’s how I got into it and cop yourselves

Toph: is tough, but like if you can be successful and cop yourselves, like you did it for two years.

You can do anything.

Janet: Yeah, it was hard. And I had downtown and you know, there was cold calling where you actually physically knocked on the door.

All: Wow.

Janet: And when I was at Ameritech, we didn’t have email at that point. So I would get 30 and 40 voicemails and I was a single parent and I would process orders at two in the morning and wake up and get my kids out of school, up to school and off.

And I mean, it was. Thinking back at it now makes me exhausted. Yeah,

Matt: sounds like a grind.

Nate: And you’re currently a CEO of a very fast growing company and the idea of selling copiers in the 90s, that makes you exhausted.

Janet: Oh my gosh, exhausted. Well, at that point I was with Ameritech and we were selling little phone systems and stuff, but That’s how I got into I.

T. It was dumb luck.

Matt: Wow. And it sounds like you had a great manager. Can you talk a little bit about his management style and what really helped you kind of grow within that organization?

Janet: You know what? He always said, when you’re a sales rep, you can be selfish. And when you’re a leader, you’re a selfless.

And he really just, he lived that motto and he was all about education. And making sure that we were informed and he was just completely on our side. And I love that. And I, I had lunch with him just last week.

Matt: Oh, that’s amazing. Still in Indiana.

Janet: Still in Indiana. He works for Salesforce.

Matt: There you go.

Janet: There you go.

Matt: That’s awesome.

Janet: So it was dumb luck and it was a great start.

Nate: I think it’s, it’s super interesting. You’re talking about processing orders at 2 a. m. and those like hard, difficult times. I think that’s an interesting mentality that not a lot of, Early stage professionals have like that sense of ownership.

Like I’m going to get this done. Uh, could you talk to that? And like, when that switch clicked in you to be like, Hey, it’s not a nine to five. It’s like, you’re done when the work’s done.

Janet: I’ve always thought from an entrepreneurship, you either kind of have it. Or you don’t. And I think that, um, I always approached my jobs, even though I wasn’t management, um, that I was my own owner, even regard, even regardless.

I mean, I, I took care of my customers, but I also, Like I was protective of the company as well. And, um, took that ownership and that mentality of going after the, um, whatever the widget or thing I was selling.

Toph: It’s almost like you’re, when you take ownership or it’s almost like you’re running a business within the business and that, and that is a massive impact in a positive way to the business and your, in your life.

Janet: Um, when you’re in, um, consulting it, we were always responsible for own profit. And so, um, I ran. I mean, I can remember then when I, um, went on and I worked for a large, um, value added, uh, business. reseller. I was responsible for making sure that those engineers were busy. And if they weren’t, they would have to let them go.

And I did not want that. I felt the responsibility and I’ve still feel that responsibility hugely. If we hire someone, it’s not just them, it’s their entire family that we’re bringing in.


I want to make sure that I never want to let someone go. And so far, we haven’t done that.

Matt: Well, you really leaned into that starting your own company.

Janet: That was a little scary. Yeah.

Matt: Tell, tell me about that decision.

Janet: We had always, we, there’s a few others back behind me, but we decided that we wanted to, at some point start a company. And, uh, some things happened that in life that we. Decided it was time. And, uh, that last quarter that I worked for the big company, I kind of, it was right around this time, it was Christmas time.

I totally, I would respond to customers, but I didn’t, I didn’t, uh, seek out additional business because I want, I was leave, I was going to be a competitor. But I walked away with no non compete and no non solicit.



Matt: that’s huge.

Janet: I was doing everything Above board. I did not want to do anything. That was Not right.

Yeah, and I think that’s the way you should be right

Toph: 100. That’s what you should do it And when you do it that way Um, I don’t know if this has happened yet, but like a lot of times things reconnect And so integrity integrity, but like there could be business opportunities There will be if there will be direct business opportunities that come out of doing it above board the right way

Janet: Yes,

Toph: there will be benefits to both companies at some point right at the beginning, but

Janet: somewhere down the road.

Yes I absolutely believe that. Yeah, absolutely.

Matt: Was it scary?

Janet: Yes, I didn’t take a paycheck for the first You Almost a year, eight months to a year. Had you planned

All: for that?

Janet: Yes, to an extent. I mean, I knew that we were self funded. Yeah. Myself and another gentleman put a little bit of money in. And, uh, we’re debt free today.

Matt: It’s amazing.

Janet: But it was, there was many days I was like, what the hell have I done?

Toph: So talk about that a little bit, right? Because as an entrepreneur, in the same day, at one moment, you are the smartest, most brilliant. You know, non fearful person and the next minute you’re like, what in the hell did I get myself into?


Janet: so

Toph: talk about that. Yo yo.

Janet: I just think that um, you know, there’s just a lot of there’s a lot of stuff out here And I call it put your blinders on because everyone is gonna say she will do it She can’t she do that Or, you know, the naysayers. Did I just say the

Toph: naysayers? The haters! That’s really what it is, is the

Janet: haters.

But you gotta put those blinders on and you just gotta keep You gotta believe you gotta keep and it’ll trickle in and then you’re like, Nope, just keep doing what you’re doing. Keep going forward. Believe in yourself. Honestly, because there’s that person in the back of your head going,

Nate: How are you

Janet: doing?

Nate: How much of entrepreneurship is willpower getting it off the ground?

Janet: I think there’s a lot of things. I think there’s luck. I think there’s the attitude, the motivation. I think you have to have an entrepreneur spirit. I mean, what

Toph: does that mean to you? Well,

Janet: um, if you’re coming to work and. Um, you have a mentality of this is not my job.

Entrepreneurship is not yours. You’re the

Toph: janitor, right? You’re the, you know, you’re everything. You’re the water, you’re the Coke

Janet: and the, yeah. If that’s not your mentality, like, you know, I can only do these things in this box. A startup is probably not your thing. Yeah,

Toph: maybe it just might not be for you.

Janet: It might not be for you. So

Toph: did

Nate: you start?

Janet: That’s okay. Yeah,

Nate: that’s right. It’s

Janet: okay.

Nate: That’s right. Did you guys start like January 1, 2018?

Janet: We started the 18th, January 18th, 2018.

Nate: Okay, so January 18th, you wake up in the morning. Do you have customers already? Or is it like, hey, we got it. We’re starting from a clean slate.

You wake up. What do you do January 18th?

Janet: I had done as much research as I could. And I had. Like I couldn’t go out and start the company because I was working for a company and that would be a no, no. So all I could do was research and do everything that I could to press go. And so on the 18th, we signed documentation that formed the corporation.

You know, you went out and you got your own checking account. I mean, all those things that you have to do in order to get a business off the ground. Um, get a logo and make, I think the only thing we did do prior to starting was the name and locking down the, um, URL. Yeah.

Matt: How’d you pick the name Lucidia?

Janet: I didn’t want stiller, blah, blah, blah, consulting.

That’s who cares. Um, and I, Lucidia is, um, Latin for brightest star in the constellation of brilliance. And I just, I spelled it, the French version of it, and I’m like, Ben, oh my gosh, we spelled it wrong. He’s like, did, did, did so and so ever tell Google that they spelled it wrong? Right. You’re right.

Matt: Yes.

Janet: We’re staying with it.

Matt: Well, you mentioned the mentality and the work ethic, and I’d love to know a little bit more about your own mentality, uh, some of the mental frameworks that you use, uh, a to stay motivated and keep coming and building each day. Um, be also some of the other mentalities or kind of mindsets for you particularly that you think maybe give you a little bit of an edge.

Janet: I think a good sales rep shouldn’t need motivation. They should already have that motivation within them.

Matt: And

Janet: I kind of come from that cloth.

Matt: Where do you think you get that from?

Janet: I think a lot of it comes from your upbringing.

Matt: Mm hmm.

Janet: I mean, I de tasseled corn. Me too.

All: Yes. Man, we are so much alike. Those Purdue grads.

A couple of Purdue grad and corn de Salire

Toph: area?

Janet: Where’d you

Nate: grow up?

Janet: I grew up in Crawfordsville.

Nate: Okay. Yeah.

Janet: And then, um, ended up in Peru.

Nate: Do not tell me you’re a Wabash fan.

Janet: Uh.

All: We’re gonna have

Nate: beef.

Janet: I don’t have any really, I mean, yeah, Wabash is not for sale. Good answer,

Nate: good answer. And

Janet: Wabash is a great, that’s a great school, I will say that.


Matt: corn detasseling is a common thread in our Indiana entrepreneurs. I mean, that’s

Janet: hard work. Yeah. That is really hard work.

Matt: Yep.

Janet: And getting your butt out the door and all that stuff. Yes.

Nate: Very early. I always heard the stories of corn detasseling where you’re like always a little bit wet in the morning because you go through the rows and all.

You’d have a poncho or you’d wear something

Toph: and you’re getting cut and you’re wet and then it gets 95 or 105 degrees out and you’re sweating and it’s crazy.

Janet: Yeah. Cut, dirty, sweaty. It’s not fun. Yeah. So you had that in your DNA. But I a good work ethic. Mm hmm. And I was a single parent, um, for a while and I didn’t want my kids to, you know, you just want to be a good example and you want to take care of them and I didn’t want to rely on a man ever.

And, uh, there was just a lot of things that happened early on that kind of form and shape you.

Toph: Are there some, like, moments, without sharing, you know, names probably on this question, but, um, are there some moments where, that stick out in your mind, whether it was since you started your business, um, or even previous where somebody put up a roadblock, you know, and said, no, Janet, you can’t do that, or, or intentionally did something to, that you felt like that was putting an intentional roadblock Maybe for their own self interest.

Um, and how did you navigate that to an outcome of success?

Janet: Um, yeah, that happens all the time.

Matt: Any favorite stories?

Janet: So this national bar, um, the local, so they had, they were like little kingdoms that all reported to the Lord and this little kingdom was kind of upset that we left and intentionally went after us.

Um, Through lawsuits and Filed loss. They, they had nothing on me cause I had no paperwork.

All: They

Janet: didn’t, they didn’t believe in sales reps. They thought sales reps were only, we need, we only need engineers. Okay. So, um, they had, uh, a lawsuit against two of the guys helped start it and they were fighting in Delaware and one of the guys was going to have to pull money out of this 401k and I’m like, this is insane.

Uh, it was probably the first week after we had filed and they intentionally just didn’t want us to get off the ground and they were bullying us fees.

All: And

Janet: I’m like, this is crazy. So I reached out to the CEO of this said company who had no idea that this was going on. And I said, Hey, I’m sure we can figure out something to work out here.

Would like to chat. 24 hours goes by. And one side story, Ben is in Switzerland installing voice, gets kidney stones, we’re without insurance and he’s sick and they’re suing us. So this has all happened.

Matt: And Ben is your co founder.

Janet: Yes. And, and so we, um, I sent that email, got on the phone with said CEO out of New York, the 3 billion company and, uh, talked to him.

And within 20 minutes, we settled. And he kind of got after these folks down here, and it was done. And that’s how we were able to sweep that behind us and It was kind of calling out some bad, you know,

Matt: bad actors.

Janet: Yeah. Bad actors. Exactly. Yeah. He

Toph: might’ve learned some things he didn’t know and that were beneficial to, you

All: know,

Toph: the integrity of the health and growth of the company.

Right. I, I, uh, I feel like 99 percent of the world’s problems are a lack of communication. And like, if you can just have two reasonable people that can communicate. The like, like drama lawsuits. It’s just so taxing. It takes so much energy and it’s bullying. It’s bullying. Attorneys are bullying. I mean,

Janet: attorneys themselves are not.

It’s the act of it.

It’s a little bit of a bullying

Toph: that can be turned into that.

Janet: Yeah. Who’s got the deeper pockets? And sometimes there’s legitimate things,

Toph: right? But I completely like in many cases, it’s like, come on, can we not just sit down and figure this thing out? Right?

Janet: Absolutely.

Nate: I kind of want to bounce back real quick.

You talked about what’s really important in sales reps is motivation. And I think on surface level, everyone thinks, Oh, salespeople are motivated by money, right? It’s like get your commission. I think that’s the stereotype though, but I would be, I would be eager to hear your thoughts on what are those characteristics and those motivations that make really, really good sales reps like the consultative,

Janet: A really good sales rep doesn’t work.

The money is the last thing. A good sales rep is going to build a great rapport with not only their customer, but their company. So that when they call on you to help me with something that’s out beyond that, they’re like, yes, I will help you, Janet. It’s about building good relationships with everyone.

And it’s about doing the right thing. It’s not, it’s not about the quick win. It’s about the long road. It’s about the Integrity and doing the right thing. And then that relationship blossoms. When we go into an account, we want to go, we want to go wide and deep and we want to be a good partner. We don’t want to be a vendor.

We want to be a partner to them. And you know what, maybe that is just tweaking something and you’re good. Or maybe it’s, um, helping them out and doing a complete redesign. But it’s about doing the right thing for them.

Matt: Seems to me that’s probably one of the most important ingredients to the success of Lucidia.

Janet: I think so. I think that and the fact that we’ve got really talented people.

Matt: Mm hmm.

Janet: We, we sought. Um, folks that were experienced and that sat on the other side. So they’ve been customers walked in those

Toph: shoes.

Janet: Yes. They’ve walked in those shoes. They have that experience to help customers. And I really, it’s, it’s kind of unfortunate that sales reps have a bad, cause they do.

There’s some of those, they’re, they’re here to do, you know, grab this and on. That’s not the way we work. That is absolutely not the way we work. And nor has it ever been the way I work. I believe that’s not the way I want to be treated. Right.

Toph: What is your, so what is your ideal customer profile? Oops, sorry.

What is your ideal customer profile? Look like, and how do you typically start a relationship, um, with a company in the, in the services you do?

Janet: Um, well, we typically work with commercial to enterprise accounts. Um, how

Toph: do you guys define that?

Janet: Um, I think our smallest house, our smallest account has 500 employees and then beyond that, and they typically have multiple locations and, um, they typically have some type of it staff.

Whether it’s five people or 300 people, um, and that’s kind of where we don’t do a lot in small business. We will help someone if they need it, but we’re not really in the small business realm.

Nate: How do you balance that mindset of the consultative approach, building relationships, thinking long term, but on January 18th you had zero customers, zero dollars and you were not taking a paycheck?

Check. So how do you balance that, like, uh, that teeter totter?

Janet: Before we started, I went and asked a lot of questions, right, to people. And the one thing they said, it’s great if you could have a couple customers. That would do business with you right off the bat. Um, get Oh my God,

Toph: that’s a proverbial. Go, yeah, you gotta get somebody else first before I’ll sign.

Janet: Well, just that, I mean, I didn’t, um, I knew that there were customers that would continue to do business with us regardless of what company. Yeah. I knew the trust

All: was with you. Yeah.

Janet: And with, um, Jason and Ben too. So I knew that, but they also said, go get, Good, um, attorneys and good accounting. So those, there, there was like, you know, and I, I remember someone saying, you know, we started this company, but we really didn’t have any customer.

That’s, that’s a hard road. I mean, you know, that’s, that’s hard. So we had, A couple of customers, we knew we could get some quick business going. So at least we had some little bit of income coming in.

Matt: Nice. That was probably a relief.

Janet: It paid them. You know what I mean? Like money was coming in to pay them.


Matt: As you kind of scaled to that point where it’s like, okay, we’re getting traction with this company. I would imagine being, uh, in a very male dominated industry, particularly like. When you’re talking about I. T. tech stacks, uh, you know, on premise, uh, I used to work in cloud hosting and on premise hosting and

All: okay,

Matt: so lots of pleated pants and tucked in polos and, you know, I wore the uniform.

Um, did you ever personally run into any challenges, uh, getting things done strictly because you are a woman?

Janet: Ben had started a little company prior to Lucidia. And he went out and, because we need credit, right? Yeah. Because we’re, we are between the manufacturer and the customer, so we’ll acquire equipment through them.

And he immediately got a 50, 000 credit. And I went, and I had better credit than him. And they gave me zero because I was a woman. I’m like, that is the, I think that is the most bold, um, thing that has ever happened related to the fact that I was female. Now they may disagree that that’s what it was, but I don’t know.

They were within 90 days. His credit score, my credit score, something doesn’t smell right there. How

Matt: do you handle those things when they come your way?

Janet: Well, I probably get mad.

Matt: Sure.

Janet: That’s a human response there and think about it. And then, uh, then I try to tactfully have some conversations with some folks and see how we can figure this out.


Matt: Let yourself be mad. That way it doesn’t show up in the conversation.

Janet: Yeah. Sometimes I’m not so good about that, but you know, Okay. We’re all human.

Matt: Yeah, of course. It seems like there’s so much opportunity for women in the IT, in IT specifically.

Janet: Oh, I think there’s tons of opportunity, and I think that, um, It’s a completely different landscape than it was 20 years or 10 years ago.

Sure, yeah. I mean, I remember, it was nothing for me to be in a room with nothing but men around the table. Yep. Case in point.

Toph: Sign off.

Janet: But now it’s like, you know, you could be one of half of them or something and I think that’s awesome.

All: Yeah.

Janet: Yeah. Yeah. And I think that Um, there’s lots of places where, um, and you know what, honestly, sometimes it doesn’t matter. I, I love, there’s been a ton of men in my life that have done me right and you know, good.

Um, but it would be nice to, to continue to have more women. Yeah. And that’s one of the things that I’m very proud of, um, I think we have 28 or 30 employees and half of them are women, and I think that’s great.

Toph: That’s

All: incredible.

Toph: Do you, like, is it, what’s the mix of your team that is, you know, out of college versus five or ten years?

And do you find it’s, uh, where do you have success recruiting women? Um, do you find that you have to go out of college and train them up for what you want them to learn or are you able to get folks that are 10 years out of school?

Janet: Well, I think it’s important to have a mix of both because I feel like we were all.

First timers, and it’s nice to be around people that, um, so we do have a mixture and, um, we have had the great opportunity of a lot of them, uh, coming to us through friends of friends or knowing someone. Um, we’ve hired through, um, headhunters, um, we’ve kind of had a mixture of both and we’ve, we’ve honestly, we’ve, it’s been good.

Um, like I said, we’ve had very few leave us one, um, they were going to bump her pension. I’m like, go, yeah, go. Um, one was starting a business of their own and I’m like, good luck.

Toph: That’s great. That’s awesome. Yeah, I always thought that was like a badge of honor.

Nate: Wait, you didn’t, you didn’t file a lawsuit? No.

Janet: It was a different one. No, I didn’t.

Toph: I always thought that was a badge of honor when you have people on your team. Absolutely. Right? Like go start a company. It’s like, okay, what can we do to help? Can we be a customer? Like, you know, that’s the,

Matt: It’s the dream.

All: Yeah.

Nate: I think I’d like to, so we’re talking about that first day, January 18th.

2018, and then fast forward four years, um, and you hit 482 on the Inc. 5, 000 list. If anyone doesn’t know Inc. 5, 000 fastest privately held companies in the United States. So to be at in top of the 500 there is pretty illustrious

Toph: and you have to be what a million minimum and revenue for three years, which by the way, um, Oh, I forgot the exact his Stanford staff north of well, it’s north of 90%.

Uh, 90. I can’t write exact percentage, but let’s say 95 percent ish ever even get to a million.

Janet: Yeah.

Toph: Number one. So congratulations with

Janet: women owned.

Toph: Yeah. So like you’re the creme de la creme, like the top of the top. So congratulations on that. That’s, that’s absolutely awesome. Yeah, I won’t go through the Stanford thing.

That’s a different kind of a use case. But, but, um, um, yeah, talk to us about that. Yeah, about that, about that

Nate: growth and taking those steps from getting your first customer to 5, 482 in 2022. I

Janet: think it was 3 million.

Toph: Have you ever seen the stats on how long it takes companies to get to a million? It’s shocking.

I’ve never, I didn’t know if I should believe these stats or not, but it’s like five or six or seven years that, that, uh, it takes most companies to reach a million dollars, which I was shocked me. Yeah. So that means like you make valetorians look. Like, I don’t know about that.

Nate: Well, that’s that’s that building that robust network and doing things the right way.

And it’s like, yeah, no wonder people want to come do business with you. It’s like you have your, your resume precedes you.

Janet: We’ve hired the same way. I think everyone on our team believes the same thing.

All: We

Janet: want to do a good job. We want to build great relationships and do what’s right. And we’ve steadily increased every year and we’ve worked hard on our reoccurring revenue.

So that We sleep better at night. And, um, it’s just been good. It’s been really good. Is

Matt: everything still founder led sales or did you have to build out your own sales team at some point? We’ve

Janet: got, uh, six reps and we’re doing business with folks. I don’t even know.

Matt: Talk to me about that. How did, that’s

Janet: kind of weird, really.

Um, we would get accounts and their names that I don’t know. And I would be like, okay. Yeah. And we would make sure that we felt comfortable with. The terms and, um, go forward. Did you, did you struggle with

Matt: that? That, that shift from working in the business to working on the business?

Janet: Well, the deal is. I know that there’s, and people can say that I am very controlling, but at the end of the day, I can’t, I

All: can’t

Janet: do everything, and you have to rely on the people that you’ve surrounded yourself by, that they will, um, do the same, and if they run into trouble, they raise their hand and say, Hey, I need some help here.

That’s all. And we’ll figure it out. Um, but yeah, that’s kind of weird when it, when it got beyond like, Your comfort zone of, I know these people will pay us. I know these people, it’s good.

Matt: Yeah.

Janet: That kind of thing.

Matt: Talk to me about some of those other pain points of scaling, because at a certain point there is that kind of shift when you start going into hypergrowth.

Janet: You know what, um, when we did start going into, um, we had hired a gal who was very methodical and she put in processes, which was, you know, nobody wants process really, right? And. But it’s usually not

Matt: the entrepreneurial type. It’s

Janet: neat. That’s right. You know, you come from entrepreneur, you know, when I’m hiring, I’m like, if you’re looking for a standard scope for everything we ever have done, this is not your job

Nate: and

Janet: I want to make sure that they know that.

Everything’s not spelled out black and white.

Nate: It’s back to that mentality, right? Where it’s like, if you’re a, this isn’t my job, this isn’t my job description, then it’s probably not a good fit.

Janet: It’s not a good fit. And you want it to be a good fit. I want, I want us to be happy and I want you to be happy.

Um, so. There’s a

Toph: good chance, like if you have a hyper successful salesperson that’s been in a, you know, a sales force for whatever, 10, 15, 20 years. Total rock star. Good chance that person’s not going to be a good first salesperson at a startup. Yeah. I

Janet: mean, they’re just not, they’re going to be used to having.

It, you know, all the wheels greased. And that’s not what this is. It’s entrepreneurship. And

Matt: you found that operating type person to balance out your, she

Janet: kind of came to me and said, Hey, can we put some processes in place? I’m like, you know, what’s probably a good idea. And then she ran with it.

Matt: Wow.

Janet: Awesome.


Matt: What were some of the big things that she put in place that you think, you know, looking back now, we’re just kind of foundational to that next wave of growth.

Janet: Having a checkpoint process from statements of work, um, having a process as we, um, process orders, who needs to see what, what they need to have.

We were always pretty good about, um, remember legal was important. So we had our Um, paperwork in place and we would, you know, get paperwork with the customer, um, but just, you know, complete process so that, um, even from, um, you know, payout and HR and that stuff.

Toph: What are some of your main go to pieces of your tech stack that you use to operate the business?

Janet: Um, as far as verticals?

Toph: Um, I’m sorry, like, um, operational,

Janet: um,

Toph: Salesforce or

Janet: We use a CRM Zoho ones, which gives us electronic document signing. Um, it’ll give us, I mean, it’ll store the documents, all the CRM. It’ll do, um, um, marketing to F sorts. We purchased, um, software that helps us, um, understand our companies that we’re targeting.

I have more software today than I ever had. I never had a CRM. That sounds weird, but that’s the way we operated. Then

Toph: We’ll spreadsheet the old spreadsheet.

Janet: Oh yeah.

Nate: We have a decent amount of entrepreneurs, uh, executives at scaling companies. What two or three piece of advice would you give an executive at a scaling tech company that really wants to take that next leap, uh, for their business?

Janet: Well, I do think that from today to what it was back then, I think technology helps us. I mean, all those things we just mentioned, the CRM, the tools that are out there are quite amazing. Um, Even website and things that you can do with your website to attract.

Nate: You guys have a very, very good website. I will say, as I did my, as I did my research, right.

I was like, again, this is, this is just stereotypical. You think of like, Oh, IT companies. It’s like you kind of rinse and repeat. And I got on there and it’s like constellations and stars right there. And Oh, really intuitive site. So that’s just, hats off to you and your team.

Janet: We’ve redone it. Re revamped that twice.

Um, and we just constantly, I mean, you’re in tech, tech, right?

Nate: Okay. And then let, let’s go to the kind of last piece on growth and scaling that I want to talk about is. 482 think life is good. Three year growth. You’re at 000. And then to jump up almost another hundred rankings. What is the, do you have any, any tips or just stories from you’re already, you have the, the gas pedal almost down to the floor, but to just put it all the way down there and to go from 482 to 396 advice stories, any fun thoughts there?

Janet: I mean, if you’re not growing, you’re dying. Right. And, um, sometimes. We have the ying and the yang, right? I’m, I’m visionary and we’ve been behind the scenes. And, um, if you’re not growing, growing is scary, right? Hiring that next person to help, you know, expand and grow is scary, but you got to do it if you want to grow.

So, and, and hiring the right people. Is very important. Paramount. Yeah.

Nate: How important is having that yin and yang co founder and, and do you have any advice for these, uh, aspiring entrepreneurs that may be looking for that, uh, that counterpart on how to identify that?

Janet: I’m the visionary. I’m the front end and there’s someone in the back, even though sometimes I hate it when he says no and I have to like fight him for it.

I love it. There has to be someone that is, uh, you just need that balance, right? It’s

Toph: healthy.

Janet: Yeah. If, um, I think it’s good and I actually like it. There’s three of us in leadership and so there’s. The chances of it being unanimous, there’s a good chance actually, but it’s nice that there’s three. So then it’s like,

Matt: Yep, you’ve got a tiebreaker.

Janet: Jason, are we going to gang up on Ben or is, you know, I mean, how are we going to do this? Yeah. And I think it’s a healthy relationship. And I think you need, we each, you know, like any good team, each person brings something to the table. And. We have a well balanced crew.

Matt: Have you found a good support network of other founders or CEOs that have been helpful in your, your own growth?

Janet: Yeah, a little bit. Yeah. There’s been a couple of companies that, um, they’ll do a, um, what do they call it? Basically a seminar where others will come in and, and, uh, that was very, um, interesting because they have the same problems, right? They have, you know, insurance or, um, commission plans or, um, hiring or keeping people on staff or.

And it doesn’t matter really what the company is. They all have the same problems. And it’s interesting to hear that.

All: So

Janet: anyway, and, and it was sometimes insightful, right? Because they may have found a tool that. Was worthy of like bringing on or looking at

Toph: sounds like a little touch on cross sector That I always love when people think that way.

Yeah, I’m so true You learn so much people outside of your day to day circle your industry vertical whatever there’s so much value back

Janet: end stuff is Same with all the same

Nate: how and how important is being curious to to your entrepreneurial journey?

Janet: I would say it’s kind of important really, again, if you get stagnant and you, you don’t care about growing, I mean, I guess it’s okay, but I don’t think that’s what a business is supposed to do.

Like I think we want it to grow, right?

Nate: Yeah. I think that it’s interesting, right? It’s like you had a, an illustrious sales career, right? And you can go out there and you can get new business, but yet you’re still continuing the seat from number one sales rep to CEO is different. And as you didn’t sit there before, you were great on bringing in revenue, great.

And that gets you so far, right. A really good first year, but to have that sustained growth, it’s like, Hey, I got to put all my learning at and learn how to be a CEO, learn how to handle all these different things. And I think that’s, that’s just a super, um, as these different interviews we’ve had with different CEOs and like curiosity just seems to be so important to entrepreneurs.

Janet: I would agree. And I think, um, it’s been a learning experience, right? There’s been a lot of things that I’m like,

All: Oh.

Janet: But I don’t, I don’t like to, uh, have some of the conversations that I’ve had to have, but you have to be. Um, mindful and you have to be truthful and it has to be about business and not personal.

Mm hmm. And those are tough. I don’t like them.

Matt: What are you most excited about?

Janet: I’m excited about the next chapter, like where is this going to go? We just hired a couple people in Ohio, starting to make some great traction there. Um, all our business is really from the Midwest and then it goes, they usually have some type of, uh, location or something elsewhere and we’ve.

We’ve done business all over the world and that’s kind of fun, but I’m, I’m excited about seeing where it goes and how big it gets. And

Toph: What’s your, what’s the team size today?

Janet: Uh, 28, 28. Yeah. Yeah.

Toph: There’s another big inflection point coming. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Janet: Cause when you get to 50, things kind of change.

Yeah. I’m very aware of that.

Toph: I think like that 2025 number, that’s a big change.

Janet: Oh, is it?

Toph: And so you’re like, well, just like when you like these customer names show up that I don’t even know who that company is.

Janet: Yeah.

Toph: It’s kind of shocking. Right. Yeah,

Janet: absolutely.

Toph: Or maybe, you know, there might be some hires that are happening at this point or in process that, You’re not the leader on the process, right?

There’s other people leading that it’s just a whole different deal.

Janet: There’s definitely, um, I mean, we don’t hire a person, everybody. I mean, there’s multiple people that, yes, absolutely. They’re not working with just me, right. They’re going to be working with the team. And I think that culture is a big deal, huge deal.

And we’ve got a great culture.

Toph: You know, um, what I think is interesting is, is the last company we started doing this. Uh, and before that, I really never, I don’t think I appreciated the importance of culture. I think we kind of did it, but subconsciously, um, but I’ve noticed that when you lead with culture in the hiring process, like don’t even care about your skill sets.

This is our culture. This is what we’re about. This is what we’re trying to do. This is our vision mission. These are our core tenants, et cetera. It’s, it’s pretty interesting how many people will self select out because that may not resonate with them for whatever reason, not good or bad. Right. And then you get into in the second or third or whatever discussion, you start getting into more of the, you know, more of skill sets and capabilities, et cetera, but leading with culture, how that can self select out.

Things that, um, that enable your culture to survive and thrive.

Janet: Yeah, I think when you have a good culture, people are, um, they’re just more willing to do, go that extra mile. Run through walls. Yeah, because you would do the same for them.

Nate: Yeah. Right? Yep. I think it’s interesting. I’m still pretty early on in my career, but like how my perception of what culture really is and from like, it’s not ping pong tables.

It’s not the beer on tap, right? That’s not necessarily what, that’s not what culture is. And it has to be lived out from the top where it’s not just like the, the fancy words you put on the wall. Um, that’s like, oh yeah, this is a, it’s like, no, you are actually that. You can’t just like sit in a room with your three or your two other co founders and be like, I think that we really care about X, Y, and Z.

And it’s like, no, it’s like, we live this out. These are core pillars of who we are. I think that’s great.

Janet: I think it’s important.

Matt: Speaking of breaking through walls, it’s Nate’s favorite part of the show.

Janet: He’s

Matt: probably so excited. I’ve been chomping at the bit, chomping at the bit. This is the lightning round.

Nate: This is the lightning round. We have three questions for you. There are no wrong answers. Um, but rapid fire quick. Things, uh, just, just answers that come to the top of your head. Oh boy. Ready to rock? Yeah, I guess. So outside of the amazing entrepreneurial ecosystem, what is Indiana known for?

Janet: Purdue basketball.

Oh yeah. I got one. Subtle. One or

Nate: up. Subtle. One or up. I just got invited to the, um, Indie Classic. Mm hmm. Uh, I just bought two tickets last night. That was

Toph: a little painful. Oof.

Nate: Well, it’s, uh, Purdue versus Arizona. Yeah, it’s gonna be crazy. Number one, number two. Number one, number two. Yeah, at, at Gainbridge, right?

Yeah, Gainbridge. It’s gonna be, uh, it’s gonna be a big, It’s I think the precursor is Ball State, Indiana State is the first game, and then it’s Purdue, Arizona in two weeks, I think.

Janet: Yeah, that’ll be good.

Nate: Well, I gotta get this episode out quick, then, to make sure that we can promote the Hoosier Classic.

Toph: We just gotta make sure we beat Northwestern on, I think it’s Monday?

Yes. Because that’s who upset

Janet: us last year, I think it was. It’s Iowa. I’m at that game.

Matt: I grew up going to Katie Camp, so.

Janet: Oh, that’s awesome. I’m a fan.

Matt: I grew up on West Lafayette.

Janet: Oh, cool. I

Matt: love it.

Nate: What is

Matt: a

Nate: hidden gem in Indiana?

Janet: Uh, Fountain Square.

Nate: Ooh. Is there a specific spot down there that you love?

Janet: I like Bluebeard.

Nate: Bluebeard is great. Yeah, I, you

Janet: know what, that whole area is so cool and I love the, we’re kind of foodie so I like it.

Nate: There you go. And now she’s, you’re a resident Southsider so that’s a little bit close of her drive for you.

Janet: I am a residence outsider.

Nate: Um, and final question of the lightning round. Who is someone we need to keep on our radar?

Someone who is doing big things. Table is open for a shout out.

Janet: Lucida IT. Boom.

Matt: I love it. Great answer.

Nate: Janet, this was amazing. Thank you so much for coming on. Get in. This has been a spectacular. About culture, about sales, and how to be a really good, you know, sales rep early on in your career. I love it. Um, I do want to give one final shout out.

We can, can we represent for the camera a little bit, gentlemen? To our, to our Sweetwater, Sweetwater Sound. If you haven’t made it up to Fort Wayne, Indiana, to the Sweetwater headquarters, you are missing out. There’s some amazing innovations happening up there. I think Matt could have probably spent an entire weekend up there.


Matt: make, make sure you listen to that. Uh, and I, I would say watch that one. Cause there’s lots of great B roll of like behind the scenes stuff, like the Dolby Atmos, spatial sounds, room. I just want to know if you told Ali

Toph: that you’re having a date weekend at Sweetwater.

Matt: She, I, I’ve put in my birthday requests.

I’ve got a bunch of old used gear that, uh, I gotta take up there and, and maybe, uh, make a purchase or two or three or four. I love it. Thank you so much. Thank you. This was wonderful, Janet. Congratulations, Janet. Yeah. We’re going to get some Lucidia shirts. Yes.

This has been Get In, a Powderkeg production in partnership with Elevate Ventures. And we want to hear from you. If you have suggestions for our guest or segment, reach out to Matt or Nate on LinkedIn or on email. To discover top tier tech companies outside of Silicon Valley in hubs like Indiana, check out our newsletter at powderkeg. com slash newsletter. And to apply for membership to the Powderkeg executive community, check out powderkeg.

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