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A.J. speaks with Syntellis CEO Flint Brenton, a five-time successful software CEO, about how Flint ultimately became the leader of Syntellis after a breakfast meetup in a small Californian diner, and how their shared Midwestern sensibility has led to a successful partnership, ultimately selling Syntellis to Roper Technologies in 2023. This episode underlines the significance of forming strategic partnerships, fostering a robust company culture, and even picking the right headquarters in the middle of the Covid pandemic.
Hi. I'm A.J. Rohde, senior partner at Thoma Bravo, and you're listening to Beyond the Deal, a special bonus episode of Thoma Bravo's Behind the Deal. And I'm here with the CEO of Syntellis and my good friend, Flint Brenton.
(laughs) From the pantry. (laughs) The new pantry. Okay, so Flint, on our episode Behind the Deal, I spoke with you about the origin story of Syntellis and how Thoma Bravo works with you in your capacity as CEO. But for Beyond the Deal, we wanna get to know you a little bit more. So I have a couple rapid-fire questions for you, and I promise they're painless and simple. I know I said that before, but this time I really do mean it.
Before we get into it, remind our listeners, if you could, what Syntellis does and the customers that you serve.
Syntellis is an enterprise performance management company that uses data in finance planning, administration, cost accounting, [inaudible 00:01:17] applications to drive superior outcomes in healthcare, with financial institutions, and colleges and universities.
'Kay. All right, Flint. First question. Best piece of career advice you received from a colleague, boss, or other leader about your own career.
Best piece of advice I received is if you're passionate about an idea, be relentless in its pursuit. And enlist others to be part of your team on that journey to creating the superior outcome. You're better off a- and you win more rapidly if you do it as part of a team.
Love it, and I totally agree. Uh, second question. What is the toughest customer call you've ever had?
I had a customer call one time where I'd been trying to get the CEO of a large rental company, where they rented cars, trucks, equipment all over the United States. I'd been trying to meet with their CEO to get them to buy a complete new store system to implement throughout the United States. And I could meet with the CFO. I could meet with the CIO. But I never met him. And then one New Year's Eve, I went out to give gifts to his senior executives. And it was around 6:00 PM and I had a party to attend at 7:00 PM, and the CEO said, "Flint, haven't you been wanting to see me for a while? I need to see your proposal now."
So I had to not only find the proposal, but I had to get through it in an hour so that I wouldn't be much more than 30 minutes late for the New Year's Eve party I'd committed my wife we would attend. And of course, my wife was also telling me, "Flint, you can't be late for this." Right? So it was tough in that it was not expected and I was not exactly prepared to have that meeting, and the timing was challenging. But it all worked out, uh, but that was the toughest customer call I've ever had.
Yeah. That's life. And you certainly don't wanna piss Meg off, so I get it.
A.J., what is your favorite sector in enterprise software?
Oh, boy. It's like picking your favorite child. Um, we tend to like industries that have a long, long digital adoption curve ahead so that we can do, with management, a lot of really important operating work without a lot of risk or disruption to the business. And so in that regard, I tend to like industries where the software is so deeply embedded and has many, many, many years of cross-sell ahead of it. So for me, if I had to pick one of those, I would say insurance is probably my favorite end market selling software into.
All right, you're a Lake Tahoe native so let's try sports in Tahoe. Skiing, water skiing, or mountain biking?
'Kay. Security software or healthcare software?
How 'bout security software for healthcare?
Ha. Growth or margin?
How 'bout growth and margin, since that's what we've done in our first two endeavors together?
I agree. That's a softball. Thank you. You know I'm a music fan. You know I'm a sports fan. I'm gonna ask questions in both, both regards here. I'm gonna start with sports. You better answer this correctly.
Golden State Warriors or Sacramento Kings?
... in 2023, '24.
Yes. Thank you. Black Sabbath or RUSH?
All right. Ohio or Michigan?
Oh, come on, man. This is a-
This a real question?
Can I get you to turncoat and join Michigan?
Yeah. Yeah, it's a-
Yeah, uh, Ohio State all the way babe.
I know. I knew you'd say that. It breaks my heart, but y-... I knew you'd say it. Uh, thanks again for joining me today, goin' on this journey with me and with us. Thanks for sharing it with Thoma Bravo nation and the world. It was so fun being able to do this with you today. And you're a great friend and partner, so thanks again.
A.J., it's an honor to serve you and your partners at Thoma Bravo. What a delight it is to be part of your journey together.
The executives were not compensated in connection with their participation, although they generally receive compensation in connection with their roles and, in certain cases, are also owners of Thoma Bravo portfolio company securities and/or investors in Thoma Bravo funds. Such compensation and investments subject participants to potential conflicts of interest.
Certain statements about Thoma Bravo made by portfolio company executives are intended to illustrate Thoma Bravo's business relationship with such persons rather than Thoma Bravo's capabilities or expertise with respect to investment advisory services. Portfolio company executives were not compensated in connection with their podcast participation, although they generally receive compensation and investment opportunities in connection with their portfolio company roles, and in certain cases are also owners of portfolio company securities and/or investors in Thoma Bravo funds. Such compensation and investments subject podcast participants to potential conflicts of interest.