A Slice on Chris Ronzio, Founder and CEO of Trainual
Chris Ronzio, an East Coast native just about fell into the burgeoning startup scene in Arizona. Having relocated from Massachusetts to Arizona to expand his company he started as a teen, Ronzio found himself hungry to do more in the software industry. Ronzio successfully exited and sold two companies, and then moved on to found Trainual, a software platform that helps businesses build playbooks to train and grow their team. Trainual is currently in its series B round of funding and has served thousands of businesses in over 120 countries.
Ronzio, ahead of the pack, earned the title of entrepreneur at the age of 14. Starting a video production company focused on youth sporting events, it wasn’t long before he realized that it was impossible to attend every single event across the country. “I had to quickly figure out how to hire people in other cities and how to train them so that they looked and felt like my brand.” Ronzio set standard operating procedures in place: laminated checklists, production kits and online training. Soon enough, the business started to grow and then had hundreds of camera operators. With the expansion of the company, Ronzio made the trek out to the West Coast and began working remote out of his apartment in the Grand Canyon state, Arizona.
Spending lots of time alone while working from home, Ronzio had the urge to connect with other entrepreneurs in the area. He started reaching out to startup groups and other founders. With the state having a great startup ecosystem, it didn’t take long for Ronzio to hear back from other entrepreneurs. “Arizona is so different than those kinds of groups in Massachusetts and the East Coast, everything is already really well established, it’s kind of like ‘who do you know?’ Here [on the West Coast], anyone is willing to grab a coffee.” Ronzio describes the ecosystem in Arizona to have a “vibrant community” where everyone wants to help you out. These resources have helped Ronzio become successful with the two companies he founded in Arizona.
It wasn’t until Ronzio was working at his first Arizona company, Organize Chaos, that he started to “dabble” in creating custom software. Ronzio’s role at this firm was to help small growing companies systemize what they did, and ultimately be more efficient. “We would interview everyone, map out their workflows and set up cool tech tools. Then we would create roles and responsibilities and standard operating procedures.” Ronzio, always providing the best work for his clients, saw there were too many platforms he had to utilize. “We were making so many Google Docs, screen sharing videos and Dropbox folders. I thought there should be a hub for businesses to do this work. That’s where the idea for Trainual came from.”
Trainual is a simple and intuitive training and process management tool aimed to help business owners, team leaders and more. The app makes it easy for businesses of any size to consolidate training efforts all on one platform, providing centralized knowledge, organized processes and SOPs and automated training.
Ronzio took a rather untraditional approach to fundraising. Fully believing in his business, he was intent on funding Trainual himself, using the money he saved from his previous consulting firm. Ultimately, when Trainual started seeing higher demand, Ronzio couldn’t keep up. “We got to a point where raising the funds wasn’t to plug a hole or help us figure something out. It was just to go acquire more customers, and then it made sense.” So Ronzio put his customers’ best interest first and set out to find funding from venture capital firms. Already having positive feedback from customers gave Ronzio the leg up when fundraising, as he notes that you should only bring in an investor when something is already working. “Investors want to knock on your door when you already have business. When you already have some kind of reviews and some sort of momentum, you get inbound interest from investors, whereas if you’re trying to go find investors, then you’re already not in a position of strength. You need them, so now you’re distracted from your main business.”
Although Ronzio was hesitant to bring on investors, his experience has been nothing short of pleasant. “It’s been amazing having those partners, not just the money that they put into the business, but the additional level of mentorship and expertise in how to build an organization that has more employees than I’ve ever had before, and how to deal with the issues that pop up. They can kind of see around corners that I can’t.”
Ronzio has found success many times throughout his career, but it didn’t come without any risks along the way. He recalls shutting down his first business, the video production company, to be the biggest risk in his career. Though this company was successful, Ronzio decided it was time to move to his next big thing: SaaS. He remembers it being an extremely tough decision to make, but ultimately a very necessary one. “Having that conviction about what you want to do next, and that your future is bigger than what you’re doing today is so important for entrepreneurs. If you just get caught in the comfortability of where you are today, it becomes really hard to take that next leap.”
From his first experience as an entrepreneur at age 14, Ronzio grew into his role as Founder and CEO of Trainual. Prior to Trainual, Ronzio founded other companies, including One Small Business and Organize Chaos. Connect with Ronzio on LinkedIn.