Meet Scott Rutz, Founding Team of Travefy, Marketing & Sales
Lincoln-based Travefy has taken off; a leader in building itinerary management and communication software for travel professionals. Founding team member Scott Rutz handles marketing and sales. We spoke with him about the fast-growing operation (it currently has users in almost 4000 cities), his evolving role and the benefits of being connected to The Startup Collaborative.
Tell us about the professional path that ultimately led to Travefy.
“I started out in the creative world in advertising and design. I worked with Bailey Lauerman early in my career and found my way into freelance design and marketing, and ultimately into corporate marketing. I worked for Nelnet in their corporate marketing department. That gave me a perspective on B2B marketing, which sort of foreshadows where we ended up with Travefy.
“While I was at Nelnet, I reconnected with a buddy of mine, Chris Davis, who is our CTO. He told me about this project in travel technology that he was working on with some friends. I thought it sounded really interesting – there aren’t a lot of travel technology companies in the Midwest – and it gave me an opportunity to expand my skill set.
“Working evenings and early mornings, outside of our ‘normal’ jobs, we started building a really rough proof of concept and alpha product. We were awarded a Prototype Grant through the Nebraska Department of Economic Development. With that, we built more momentum and brought in a seed round of funding through Nebraska Angels.”
Travefy launched in 2013. How has your role evolved over the last four years?
“I’ve moved through a lot of different roles within Travefy. I started out doing user experience (UX) design and consumer marketing. Now, my sole focus is sales. My day is spent connecting with various travel associations and travel professional organizations, trying to find partnerships or relevant ways to work together because, within the industry, there is a known need for software like ours. At the same time, building momentum with our current clients helps propel us into new conversations.
I was born and raised in the Midwest, but I get to connect with our clients from around the world. We just brought on an enterprise level client in Jakarta, Indonesia. I work with tour operators in Sri Lanka, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa…
What need does Travefy address in the travel industry?
“Many legacy travel companies are the first to say, ‘We don’t do technology exceptionally well. We may do parts of it well, but we don’t do all of it.’ We’ve found our home building B2B software that helps travel professionals connect and communicate with their clients through itinerary management and client communications.
“When I look at it today, I’m thrilled with where we’re at. We’re a strong, growing company. We have a great culture. We genuinely enjoy working with each other, and we work super hard.”
Why is “The Silicon Prairie” the right place for Travefy?
“The plan from the get-go was to headquarter in Lincoln. Nebraska has a much better cost of living, meaning you have much lower cost to build. Plus, we have lots of really good engineering programs around Nebraska – from the Lincoln campuses to the Omaha Campuses to some of the other non-traditional education programs like Interface Web School and Omaha Code School. We support and benefit from the educational programs that are pushing out this great talent.”
Talk about your relationship with The Startup Collaborative. How has that helped the company?
“The value of the TSC has fallen into two areas. When we decided to open an office in Omaha, it offered very cost-effective office space with lots of flexibility. This was really effective for us as a startup.
“Then, as we started to pivot our focus to B2B software for travel professionals and I transitioned to a 100-percent pure sales role, (TSC co-founder Erica Wassinger) was super helpful in setting up some great conversations. Dan Houghton, Buildertrends’s head of sales, was very generous with his time and walked me through his sales playbook. That goes back to the question, ‘Why locate in Nebraska?’ You find really amazing quality within the people around here. They value community and they want to help. With the Startup Collaborative, we’re able to build off those connections and the shared wisdom of entrepreneurs.”
Want to learn more about Travefy? Check out the company website: https://travefy.com.