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INNOVATION: Blue Lemon’s motto is “pure clean food, with a twist.” For Lychelle, that means no fried or microwaved food and natural ingredients that are locally sourced as much as possible.
“We don’t have hydrogenated oils, we don’t use high fructose corn syrup—everything is very natural and clean,” she says.
Aaron says the real innovation lies in how the menu’s pricing is set. “When we come across a dish that we’d like to serve that fits our taste profile and pleases our palates, we approach it from, ‘OK, we have to figure out how to make it a value for the customer.’ If we cannot provide that particular recipe at a value for our customer—that the customer would feel like they’re getting a deal on—we simply won’t serve it.”
For the most part, Blue Lemon’s prices are similar to other fast-casual establishments. “Where we are different is we do provide that higher-end entre,” says Aaron. He points to the salmon dish, “which is certainly something that you can’t get at most fast-casual restaurants. If you bought that at a steak house, you’d pay $30 for that—that exact dish as it’s served—but we’ve found a way to serve it for $14.”
TRAJECTORY: Blue Lemon opened a third location in Cottonwood Heights in 2012. And in January of this year it branched out with an Arizona location. Its fifth will open in Sandy by mid-summer.
So far, the Days continue to own all of the establishments; however, Aaron says they often receive franchise requests from all over the country and across the world. At City Creek, where Blue Lemon serves hungry crowds of tourists, Lychelle says guests often beg them to open a location in their hometowns.
“We didn’t anticipate growing it as much as we have. We just wanted somewhere good to eat,” she says.
“It was really meant to be a one-location thing, just in our local community,” Aaron adds.
But he says they have laid a solid foundation for future growth, and nothing is off the table. “We are looking at providing that next opportunity for growth in franchising. … We’re definitely positioned well for that growth; we have a great foundation to launch into other markets.”
INCEPTION: Pluralsight was founded in 2004 to provide classroom-based training for IT and software development professionals. The company would send instructors to businesses to perform onsite professional development training, or it would organize seminars and conferences. “By 2007, we realized all the trends happening on the internet allowed us to take that classroom training and do it online,” explains Aaron Skonnard, CEO and co-founder of Pluralsight.
Trends like cloud computing and inexpensive video hardware and technology enabled the company to develop a massive online library of video classes. “[The founders] are all developers, and we built the first version with our own hands,” says Skonnard. “We also developed the first courses in the library.”
By 2011, Pluralsight had completely dropped its onsite classes and was focused entirely on its online, on-demand offerings.
INNOVATION: “What makes us unique are the people behind the courses,” Skonnard says. “We call them authors, not instructors or teachers. These people are really the leading experts in their technology area. They are the authors of books and articles and are highly sought-after speakers.” He says the content is so well executed and valuable that many universities use Pluralsight courses along with their own curriculum.
And the sheer amount of content is tremendous. Pluralsight currently has more than 1,300 courses in its library, and Skonnard says it adds at least 50 new courses every month. “That will be closer to 100 by the end of the year.”
New subscribers are often amazed at the quality and quantity of relevant courses in the library. “By the time they’re an hour into their first course, they’ve had an epiphany, a light-bulb moment, when they realize just how much they are learning and how valuable it is,” he says. “They can dive as deep as they want into a particular technology.”
TRAJECTORY: “This year is going to be a really big year,” predicts Skonnard. The company recently completed four acquisitions, which enabled it to expand into new technology areas. It is also working to enlarge its pool of authors. Currently, it has about 300 content-producing authors, but he believes that will be closer to 500 by the end of the year.
Internally, the company has grown from 20 employees at the start of 2013 to about 100 employees. In April, it moved to new headquarters in Farmington Station. Skonnard says Pluralsight achieved 140 percent revenue growth last year. “We had triple-digit growth every year for the past four years running.”
Pluralsight sells into 125 countries every month, and Skonnard says he is proud of the fact that his company brings tech education to professionals of every experience level, in companies big and small, and in all corners of the world. “Technology changes things,” he says. “We’re democratizing technology education.”