AZ Brandcast Chris and Mike interview Chris Ronzio, Founder of Trainual to tell us how Arizona’s startup ecosystem compares with Boston and San Francisco.

Contact: Mike mike@resoundcreative.com or Chris chris@resoundcreative.com

Discuss at https://www.facebook.com/azbrandcast/

AZ Brandcast is graciously sponsored by Conscious Capitalism Arizona – the global movement inspiring businesses to do good…because it’s just good business. Find out more about Conscious Capitalism and the many companies transforming our world for the better on their website: consciouscapitalismaz.com

And our show is produced by Phoenix Business RadioX and recorded at the enviable MAC6 coworking space in ever-sunny Tempe, Arizona (the 48th – and best state of them all).

Show Transcript

Speaker 1: Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX Studios in Phoenix, Arizona, it’s time for Phoenix Business Radio, spotlighting the city’s best businesses and the people who lead them.

Mike Jones: Welcome to AZ Brandcast, where we talk to all sorts of awesome people about the power of brand, and how to build great brands in our remarkable state of Arizona. I’m your host, Mike Jones, with my co-host …

Chris Stadler: Chris Stadler, what’s up?

Mike Jones: Yeah. And we’re super excited to have Chris Ronzio on the show today.

Chris Ronzio: Hey guys.

Mike Jones: And Chris … Just a little intro for Chris Ronzio, he built a video production company. He sold that. Then he found an operations consulting company, which is actually how I think I first met you a few years ago.

Chris Ronzio: I think so.

Mike Jones: You were doing that and trying to scale that, to create scalable systems and processes for other companies. And then through that experience, and I’m really excited to get into this today, he’s now built and running Trainual, an online platform to quickly document processes for easy delegation, so you can scale your team. And really cool part is Trainual’s based right here in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Chris Stadler: Scottsdale, Arizona.

Mike Jones: Yeah.

Chris Ronzio: Yeah.

Mike Jones: Which is why you’re on the show, because we love talking to people who’ve either built or running or scaling a great brand here in Arizona. And we’re really excited to have you on the show, Chris, and talk more about your experience with Trainual, what you’re doing with Trainual, and what problems you’re solving with it, but also your experience building that company and scaling it here. I know we’ve already started talking a little bit about how do you manage a team? How do you build a team? What are different pitfalls of doing that remote versus doing that local? So I’m really excited to get into that.

Chris Ronzio: Awesome.

Mike Jones: But first, we have to mention our sponsor. Chris, you want to take that?

Chris Stadler: That’s right. So Conscious Capitalism, you may have heard of it before. They’re awesome friends and sponsors of the show. They’re a local association on a mission to share with the whole world how doing good in your business is just good business. Right, Mike?

Mike Jones: It is. It really is.

Chris Stadler: This local chapter of Conscious Capitalism Incorporated has tons of local events, and provides resources for business leaders to instill a higher purpose in their company and engage all their stakeholders, which is so hot right now.

Mike Jones: So hot.

Chris Stadler: Want to be conscious but don’t know how? Get in touch. Consciouscapitalismaz.com. That’s consciouscapitalismaz.com.

Mike Jones: Yeah. And I know they’re taking a little bit of a break from events over the summer, but I do know that there are lots of events coming this fall through the Arizona chapter.

Chris Stadler: Oh, there’s even some summer events.

Mike Jones: Oh my goodness.

Chris Stadler: You just don’t … They just haven’t given us the dates yet.

Mike Jones: Oh. Secret events. All right.

Chris Stadler: They’re coming.

Mike Jones: So get on the website, get signed up on their newsletter. You’ll be in the know before we’re in the know, apparently.

Chris Stadler: Yep. Do the newsletter. Yep.

Mike Jones: Do the newsletter thing. So, cool. Well, let’s jump right in, Chris. How did you start … What is Trainual? I think I want to hear that first. Oh, Chris Stadler has …

Chris Stadler: I want to do the ice breaker, bro.

Mike Jones: Oh my goodness. I forgot the ice breaker. I’m just jumping …

Chris Stadler: Gosh, Mike.

Mike Jones: I’m so eager.

Chris Stadler: Get with it. I know. It is exciting.

Mike Jones: I’m excited.

Chris Stadler: I will give you that.

Mike Jones: No, we need the ice breaker.

Chris Stadler: Okay.

Mike Jones: We got to do the ice breaker first.

Chris Stadler: [crosstalk 00:03:08] Well, because it’s Trainual, right? And we’re talking about training, the question is what is your least favorite training style? Go around the room. And the hardest way for you to learn, and is there a cool story or embarrassing, even better, story?

Chris Ronzio: Can I start?

Mike Jones: Yeah, please.

Chris Stadler: Yes.

Chris Ronzio: Can I say potty training is the worst type of training? See, I don’t even remember back that far. That’s …

Chris Stadler: You’ve got a good memory.

Chris Ronzio: So I’ve got a one and a half year old, and it’s funny. He was actually born nine days after we launched Trainual. And so …

Chris Stadler: Oh wow.

Chris Ronzio: And so just as Trainual’s going through its own growing pains of scaling, he is ripping off his diaper, and making a total mess around the house, making art on the wall. So I’ll start there.

Mike Jones: Scaling up one process while scaling down another.

Chris Ronzio: Yes, exactly.

Mike Jones: Yes. I love it. Oh, man. How do I beat that? That is probably … We’re going through something similar right now. I won’t get into the details on that. It’s not radio friendly.

Chris Stadler: It’s not pretty.

Mike Jones: It’s not pretty. Oh, my poor daughter. Anyway, we’ll just leave it at that. The traditional corporate sit everybody in a room and watch the training video experience for me is one of the worst … There’s just so many things about that chafe my personality. I’m a self learner. I’m like, “Give me the book. Give me the how-to videos on YouTube. Let me pace it on my own speed. Don’t hold me back with everyone else who’s asking lots of dumb questions.” And then just that it’s slow and monotonous. I can just picture the … For me, it was Best Buy, right? Because that’s my most, probably, corporate experience was working at Best Buy in college. And the big, “All right. We have the new training video about sexual harassment, and we’re going to sit here for an hour and a half.”

Chris Stadler: From the ’90s. [crosstalk 00:04:58].

Mike Jones: Yeah, from the ’90s. A decade and a half prior to when you’re actually watching it.

Chris Ronzio: Yeah. Everyone’s wearing overalls, and [inaudible 00:05:05]. You know it was recorded 50 years ago.

Mike Jones: Yes. Now, if only [crosstalk 00:05:11] …

Chris Stadler: They’re all smoking cigarettes still, inside.

Mike Jones: If only they had Nirvana playing in the background, that’d be okay with me.

Chris Ronzio: Yeah, I know, right? Yeah.

Mike Jones: But they didn’t. So yeah. Just that top down, one-to-many type of experience … I’m like, “Just give me all the content and let me run with it.” So …

Chris Stadler: Yeah. Well, my … I don’t know. So I’m going to break. I’m going to go to big lecture classes.

Mike Jones: Okay.

Chris Stadler: I just remember trying to prepare for teaching the one big lecture class, the 200 plus student class that I had to teach once a year. It was my penance for having …

Mike Jones: The penance for everybody in that room.

Chris Stadler: It’s penance for having all the small classes I got to have, which is great. But anyway, just preparing for that, just trying to think, “How would I want to be lectured to?” And I’m just like, “I got nothing.” So I just made slideshows and walked in there just like, “Man, I hate to be you guys right now, and here you go.”

Mike Jones: Yeah, those were the worst classes.

Chris Stadler: Big lecture classes, dude.

Mike Jones: Yeah. 200, that was your max size?

Chris Stadler: No, I had … I think the class maxed out at 216 or something, that one. But yeah.

Mike Jones: Okay. I remember sitting in one at ASU that was 400 plus.

Chris Stadler: Yeah, crazy.

Mike Jones: And I was just like, “This is insane.”

Chris Ronzio: I think my biggest class ever was 40.

Mike Jones: That sounds awesome.

Chris Ronzio: Very small school.

Chris Stadler: Wow, where’d you go to school?

Mike Jones: Where was that?

Chris Ronzio: Bentley University in Massachusetts.

Mike Jones: Okay.

Chris Stadler: Dude.

Chris Ronzio: By Boston.

Mike Jones: Yeah.

Chris Ronzio: But I can’t imagine. People tell me they’ve got 500 people in their class, what that’s like.

Chris Stadler: Oh, you have two graduate teaching fellows to do the grading and stuff. So it’s not as bad as it sounds, but still.

Chris Ronzio: Yeah, you could use a …

Mike Jones: [crosstalk 00:06:49] more resources in that lecture.

Chris Ronzio: T-shirt cannon. [inaudible 00:06:52].

Chris Stadler: That’s what it’s like. But then it’s like you’re a cop too, because during test days. Oh man. Dude.

Mike Jones: Oh. Yeah.

Chris Stadler: That’s another story for another day, but yeah. No fun.

Mike Jones: Yeah. Those classes got me in a lot of … They built some habits in college I shouldn’t have had. Not showing up.

Chris Stadler: That’s a bad habit.

Mike Jones: It’s a bad … It’s a really bad habit. So for all you listeners who are in high school or college, stay in school.

Chris Stadler: Right. Stay in school.

Mike Jones: Just stay in school.

Chris Stadler: Don’t do drugs. All that stuff.

Mike Jones: Don’t do drugs. Stay in school.

Chris Stadler: So I’m going to hog the first question.

Mike Jones: Yeah, do it.

Chris Stadler: So Chris, why’d you start Trainual?

Chris Ronzio: Great question. So it actually came out of a bunch of different entrepreneurial experiences I had. So my first company was a video production company, like you mentioned in the intro. And the biggest thing we did in that company was we had online training for camera operators around the country that we were trying to get up to speed to shoot youth sporting events. And so you can imagine there’s a lot of creepy camera guys, and we needed to filter them and train them and get them ready to do a youth event on our behalf. And so training was huge.

Chris Ronzio: So then I rolled that experience into the consulting, and as I was working with other entrepreneurs, everybody wants to be more efficient or productive, and they want to use the coolest systems. And when we made those changes, every time, they’d say, “Great. Can you put together the training, and show everybody the new way to do this?” So I found myself doing it again. And so the reason we built Trainual was for ourselves. It was initially a product in my consulting business. And so we’d go in, we would tear apart their systems and their workflows, we’d rebuild it with new tools. And then we’d write the manual with Trainual and roll it out. And so that’s where it came from.

Chris Ronzio: And then a couple years into it, I saw that there was just this gap. I would go in and talk to a lot of people, and say, “How do you on board new employees? Or how do you train people?” And they’d say, “Google Docs.” And we laughed about that before we even started recording, but that’s what everyone does, right? I mean, you’ve got paper or Google Sheets or whatever. And there was a huge gap between that and what big companies do. And so that’s where Trainual came from. It was how do we do this as simple as possible so that you can document or write down all the knowledge inside the business and make it accessible for people so they’re trained consistently? Unlike the boring Best Buy experience.

Chris Stadler: Yeah.

Mike Jones: Yes.

Chris Stadler: Man, whenever I need to learn something new, though, if I’m working on my truck or car or something like that, I always … I just jump on YouTube. I don’t have to open the Chilton’s Manual anymore and try to decipher and try to figure out what that black and white image is going on … What’s going on in that image, you know?

Mike Jones: Yeah. Ikea diagram.

Chris Stadler: Yeah. Just go to YouTube and watch three videos, get three points of view. If I was in Algebra in high school, dude, Algebra would have been so much easier. You know?

Chris Ronzio: It’s funny how learning something new has evolved so much. You … Yeah. You just look something up on YouTube, or there’s so much data accessible to you online. And so there’s a lot of content for external training, external knowledge. And so we’re focused more on the internal. What have you learned just by being in business? What are the best practices? And how do you make sure everyone’s on the same page?

Mike Jones: Yep.

Chris Stadler: But video fills in so many of the interstitial steps and …

Chris Ronzio: Oh yeah. Totally.

Chris Stadler: It … A Google Doc couldn’t … Or a Chilton’s Manual.

Chris Ronzio: Yeah. And with a Google Doc, the biggest thing, biggest problem I had, because we used those too, is you sent them to someone and you don’t know if they looked at it. You know, if they read it.

Chris Stadler: Yeah. Ah.

Chris Ronzio: And so getting that feedback loop is huge.

Chris Stadler: Yes.

Mike Jones: Can you just walk us through, at a high level, what is Trainual? How does it work? What are some of the problems you’re solving with it?

Chris Ronzio: Yeah, sure. So it’s … If you can write a blog post or a Google Doc, you can create in Trainual. You build step by step processes or policies or anything you want to describe. You can use text, graphics, screenshots, screen recordings, video, embed things, HTML. So anything you want to centralize to deliver to people, you bring in there. Then you just build a sequence of here’s what I want you to learn in this order. And you tag the material to a role in the business. So you say, “Okay. We’re hiring a new account rep. Here’s what they need to know, start to finish.” And then it’s one click when you hire that new person, to just on board them, teach them about your company, teach them about the department, about the role. And it reports their progress the whole way.

Mike Jones: That’s awesome.

Chris Ronzio: And you can build tests if you want. So it’s a pretty simple system.

Mike Jones: That’s very cool. I dig it.

Chris Stadler: I dig it too.

Mike Jones: I knew you would.

Chris Stadler: It’s … [inaudible 00:11:29] you could. Yeah. I mean, we’re doing a little bit of that right now. It’s just the processes can change sometimes. So you’re trying to … They’re stabilizing gradually, but they just change sometimes.

Chris Ronzio: Yeah. Totally. I talk about it’s a three step process. You figure out how to do something consistently the same way every time. And small businesses are ones that are just changing and experimenting too frequently. You don’t want to write anything down, because it would be totally out of date next week. So it’s only when you’ve got something that’s stable that you then write it down, document it. And once you write it down, then you can delegate it. And you’ve got some expectations set. You know?

Chris Stadler: But then that’s a sign of a maturing business, when you start arriving at those, “Hey, we need to reduce the number of moving parts we have. We need to make some decision. Even if they may not be perfect for every situation in the future, just so we can have some consistency so we can start having some stability.” And …

Chris Ronzio: Yeah. Little by little. And it starts with just any role in the business. When you’re trying to hand the first thing off, it might just be answering the phone. What’s the way that we do that? What is the company way? Let’s write that down so that now we can move on to chaos elsewhere. You know?

Chris Stadler: Yeah. Exactly, yeah. So you’re in Arizona.

Chris Ronzio: Yep.

Chris Stadler: You’re in Scottsdale.

Chris Ronzio: Scottsdale.

Chris Stadler: Yeah. Tell us about that.

Chris Ronzio: What about it? Yeah. I love it. So I grew up in Massachusetts, grew up in Boston. And I chose to be out here, I guess. So I’d finished college. I was running my video company, had an office in Boston, four employees, and a bunch of contractors around the country. We traveled so much, because we were doing events in all 50 states. And I would just fly back to Boston, the skies are gray, it’s snowing, the flight’s canceled. And I said, “You know, I could really be anywhere and run this thing. So, where would I want to be?”

Chris Ronzio: So my girlfriend at the time and I, we started traveling. We went to California, Nevada, Texas, and Florida, and then Arizona. And when we came to Scottsdale, we were like, “Yo. This is it. This is it. Found it.”

Mike Jones: That’s awesome.

Chris Ronzio: And so … So yeah. I set up shop here. I kept the office in Boston, and ran the company from an apartment in Scottsdale.

Chris Stadler: So did Trainual start … So that was the old company, right?

Chris Ronzio: Yeah. Right.

Chris Stadler: So Trainual started in Scottsdale?

Chris Ronzio: Yeah. So Trainual started … Once I had seven or eight years of Arizona roots, officially launched in January of 2018.

Mike Jones: Yep. So about 18 months ago. Roughly.

Chris Stadler: Wow.

Chris Ronzio: Yeah.

Mike Jones: Yeah. And then you’ve got team members here, right? For Trainual.

Chris Ronzio: Yeah. So we’ve got a total team of 18. And of the 18, 15 are here full time.

Mike Jones: That’s crazy.

Chris Ronzio: Yeah.

Mike Jones: That’s really cool. That’s like … I don’t know. We were talking about this before the show. It just seems like more and more software companies who are building software are going more the remote and distributed model. Has that been something you guys have … That you’ve navigated explicitly? You’re like, “Hey, we really want to have a more local presence.” How did you come to that?

Chris Ronzio: Definitely. So I think when you’re building a software, it’s easy to build a remote team. You could do it. And it’s especially easy or practical if you want a lifestyle business. So if you want a business that’s profitable and that supports you as the founder, or maybe a couple co-founders, then you can cobble together resources around the world, do it really cheaply, and run a nice business. But if you really want to grow, you really want to scale, nothing beats that in person collaboration that you can get from just all being in a room and working together every day, and having great ideas, and just running to the whiteboard. That’s what I always wanted. I dreamed of being the Silicon Valley guys that just would be all on beanbags and …

Chris Stadler: And not wear shoes.

Chris Ronzio: Yeah. Just work 23 hours a day. That sounds so fun.

Chris Stadler: And you can ride your skateboard from your desk to the break room.

Chris Ronzio: Right. And there’s only so much you can get on Slack, of that kind of camaraderie. So …

Mike Jones: Yeah. There’s that culture element that you get when people are working together in the same space at the same time.

Chris Ronzio: Yeah.

Mike Jones: That’s a lot harder to develop in a remote culture.

Chris Ronzio: Yeah. So I think … I love remote. And I think you can build remote teams for certain roles in the company. There’s certain roles that might be just individual producers, that all the person needs to do is put their head down and just knock things out. And they want to just live a remote lifestyle, or they’re a nomad, or something like that. And those people have a place in organizations, but the core team, if you’re running and managing teams, I think you should be together. That’s my opinion.

Mike Jones: That’s awesome.

Chris Stadler: Yeah.

Mike Jones: So you … I’m going back a little bit. So you came to Arizona about 10 years ago from Boston. What … And you said that Scottsdale grabbed you guys, right? You and your … It was your girlfriend, right?

Chris Ronzio: Who is now my wife.

Mike Jones: Who is now your wife. All right.

Chris Ronzio: I should have closed that loop, yeah.

Mike Jones: Close the loop on that.

Chris Ronzio: Yep.

Mike Jones: [crosstalk 00:16:26].

Chris Ronzio: It’s funny, I have this slide when I tell the story in front of an audience, and there’s this slide where I say, “I packed everything up in this Budget truck, and it’s the big truck with me and my girlfriend.” And I say, “I packed everything up, including my girlfriend, and went and drove out to Scottsdale.” And someone called me out once at the end of the presentation, and they raised their hand and they said, “Is she still in the truck?” And I was like, “Oh okay. I should probably address that.” So, thank you.

Chris Stadler: Shrink wrapped her …

Chris Ronzio: Cliff hanger. [inaudible 00:16:51] Cliff hanger.

Chris Stadler: Shrink wrapped her and put her in mom’s attic.

Mike Jones: Yeah. To be continued. You’ll have to come back next time.

Chris Ronzio: So, she’s been promoted to wife.

Mike Jones: Okay. That’s great.

Chris Ronzio: [crosstalk 00:16:59] She’s great.

Mike Jones: What about Scottsdale or maybe Arizona really grabbed you guys? Because I mean, you said you looked at Florida, Texas, California. There’s some really appealing things about those different states and cities within those states. What drew you guys to Scottsdale? What made that like, “Hey. This is it?”

Chris Ronzio: So this might sound weird, but the first was visual. Growing up in Boston, you can’t see around the next corner. There’s a lot of hills, everything’s old, so you just can’t see. And then we came out here and you can see for, I don’t know, how far is Tucson? Like 200 miles? I feel like I can see Tucson from Phoenix. And you see the rainstorms coming, and it’s like, “Oh, don’t worry. That won’t even touch us.” You just … It’s so open. The sky is so huge. Even on the highways, they’ve got plants and rock formations that are perfectly geometrically spaced. And I just loved the … How organized it felt. And then there’s so much new build going on, that you can tell the city’s expanding. It’s growing past its limits into the desert. Whereas on the east coast, it’s just getting denser. You’re getting less space, and everything’s getting crowded. And so that really appealed to me, visually.

Chris Ronzio: And then I remember on our first day, we sat down at … I’m trying to remember what restaurant it was. It might have been … It was somewhere near Fashion Square. We sat down and the waitress came over, and we told her we were visiting, we just got here. And she spent 30 minutes … She sat down in our booth, she wrote out all the awesome restaurants we had to try, the places in town we should look at for apartments. And I thought, “Wow, that’s awesome that someone cares that much that they want to share this with us.”

Mike Jones: That is awesome.

Chris Ronzio: So, caught my attention.

Mike Jones: That’s very cool. That’s very cool.

Chris Stadler: Did you find Scottsdale to be a good place to start your business?

Chris Ronzio: You know, I’ve always had a philosophy to build my business around my life. And so I felt like Scottsdale was the place I wanted to build my life, and then the business would follow suit.

Chris Stadler: Have you found it to be … How has it been running a business in Arizona?

Chris Ronzio: It’s been great. I mean, the people here are amazing. The community is so supportive. There’s this entrepreneurial vibe, that … Which I think has been at ASU, and I think has been at MAC6, and I think there’s so many groups around here that are supporting startups, and trying to build a strong foundation for this, because you don’t have the established tenure … 200 years of business going on in some of these bigger cities. And so that’s contagious. There’s some energy and enthusiasm that we had startup week here, and a few … Well, how many years has it been? Three, four?

Mike Jones: So we just hit our fifth year.

Chris Ronzio: Fifth.

Mike Jones: And we’re on to our sixth.

Chris Ronzio: Yeah. So I mean, to think that it’s only six years of that community being mobilized, everyone wants to be a part of it and wants to help. And you see the numbers year over year of how that’s grown, and it’s exciting. And so I think the people, the mentors, the groups, the everything feels so entrepreneurial, whereas in some of the bigger cities, it feels more corporate.

Mike Jones: That’s really interesting.

Chris Stadler: Was that true in Boston too? Because I know Boston, I always think of on the east coast … So on the west coast, it’s always … Right, it’s always Silicon Valley. On the east coast, it seems like Boston always comes to mind for startups. How would you compare that with Arizona as far as the vibe goes?

Chris Ronzio: Well Boston is all financial industry. And so there’s huge banks and investment type companies and they do have a burgeoning tech scene, but I think it’s tech companies with ideas that are getting mounds of funding, whereas here, there’s this bootstrap vibe of let’s help each other, let’s build real businesses. And I personally connect more with that. And you can get funding. You can go down that path once you’ve got something real, but it’s not just this bubble of ideas. And that’s what I’ve seen to be the case any time I’m in Silicon Valley, and that’s what I get the feeling is it’s like in Boston when I’m there too.

Chris Stadler: Is it like a bubble of ideas as in the housing bubble type bubble?

Chris Ronzio: Kind of. It’s like …

Chris Stadler: Just a little bit inflated, maybe? Or …

Chris Ronzio: Yeah. It’s just everybody has an idea, and there’s money being thrown around. And when it’s good, it’s good, but when it’s bad, there’s nothing to stabilize it. And I think Arizona was hit with the real estate thing during the recession. And now we’re building real business that I think can survive that. And maybe a lot of people that had experience in real estate I’ve talked to are now founding businesses in other areas, and I think that’s really cool.

Mike Jones: That’s very cool.

Chris Ronzio: Yeah.

Mike Jones: Yeah. Flipping over to Trainual again. I don’t know if we even have this on the list, but where are you seeing … Because you’re about 18 months in, right? So … And I know you’re starting to hit some traction and that kind of stuff. That’s really cool. Where are you seeing traction with that? Are there certain markets where you’re like, “Ah, okay. Trainual’s starting to really click and make sense for different niches or different kinds of businesses.” Where is that going?

Chris Ronzio: I wish it was more niche than it is. It’s been very broad. We appeal to company sizes that are 10 to 300. And we play with that number, but we’ve got companies that are 10 to 25 that are beyond where you can manage everybody with one person, and they need that. Then there’s companies that are 25 to 100 that are really starting to scale and maybe open other locations or systematize things. And then 100 to 300. And that’s where you just need consistency, and everybody to be doing things the best practice way, because there could be a huge gap between your best and your worst performers. And that’s where we focus, whereas the bigger companies would use Enterprise system, learning management software. That’s more HR oriented software than operations oriented software, which is what I consider us.

Chris Ronzio: Industry wise, it’s all over. We’ve got customers in everything from retail and construction and B2B services, and business process outsourcing. I mean, we’ve got I think 40 something industries represented on our little dropdown menu.

Mike Jones: That’s awesome.

Chris Ronzio: And customers currently in 85 countries. So …

Mike Jones: Wow. That’s incredible.

Chris Ronzio: Yeah. So it’s …

Mike Jones: That’s really cool.

Chris Ronzio: It’s really cool. I refresh the map all the time just to see if there is a new one.

Mike Jones: New pin drop on a certain country. That’s cool.

Chris Ronzio: So it’s been really cool to see that grow. But it is more of a broad business play that’s specific to company size and less so industry.

Mike Jones: Yeah. No, that’s really cool. That’s really cool.

Chris Stadler: So you talked a minute ago about how a certain kind of … I really like this answer … A certain kind of business makes a little more sense in Arizona for startups whereas you have your bubble in the Valley, and in Boston, and places like that. But it sounds like there’s a certain kind of company that would flourish a little more here. Do you have a sense for that? Is there a different kind of company? One that’s a little less sensitive to … So you mentioned a couple things … Funding? A little less in need of creating excitement for investors? I don’t know if that’s what it is. The companies that are stable, that are … It sounded like there was more of a maturity to the startup culture here.

Chris Ronzio: I wouldn’t … I don’t know that I’d want to call out any specific industries that don’t work here, because anyone could serve up the exception to the rule.

Chris Stadler: Okay.

Chris Ronzio: And so I don’t want to offend anyone.

Chris Stadler: Yeah.

Chris Ronzio: But what I think the … The companies that do the best are ones that are led by a founder that has industry expertise. And if someone has done a service business and has come across a business problem, and they’re building a solution around that, whether it’s SaaS like ours, or not. And then they get some traction with that problem. I think that can do really well here, whereas if it’s something that is just a far reaching idea that you need to recruit in people with crazy experience in different areas, then other metropolitan areas can be better for having those resources. So I think it just depends on what your experience is, and the advisors, or the mentors that you have within reach.

Chris Stadler: Interesting, yeah. So that makes sense, because in Silicon Valley, you have all kinds of access to people with a lot of different kinds of experience, whereas a place like Phoenix, you might not have access to those people. You have access to people who have been on the ground in different companies, maybe.

Chris Ronzio: Or you just have to look harder. I don’t think it’s that you couldn’t do any sort of business here. I think it’s just that there might be one woman who has amazing expertise in the area, and you’ve got to get it on her calendar six months from now as opposed to you walk into a coffee shop and see 10 of those people are a city that’s 10 times as big.

Chris Stadler: Right.

Chris Ronzio: So, but I think you can build amazing businesses in Arizona. So there’s … I started by saying I picked this area to build a business around the lifestyle I wanted, and I think that’s where we’re really strong here. There is so much you can do in Arizona. All the different climates that are available, all the different outdoor activities. Rock climbing and hiking and swimming and sports year round. And when I’m interviewing employees, the diversity of the things they’re involved in is so cool to see. And as a company, we can really support that, because there’s a different vibe in this city to support that lifestyle, I think, than there is at large companies that … An investment bank that has you working 16 hours a day doesn’t really care about your lifestyle, right?

Mike Jones: And maybe in a city that isn’t as conducive to that, right?

Chris Ronzio: Yeah, exactly.

Mike Jones: If you’re in the bay area, and you want to get out and do some of those things, you got to work a little harder.

Chris Stadler: Yeah.

Chris Ronzio: Right? Or you wait until you’re a partner and you’ve got four days of vacation or whatever it is.

Mike Jones: Yeah. Yup.

Chris Ronzio: So I think we’re intentionally building a business here because we can invest in that lifestyle. And I want to show people around the rest of the world that you don’t have to be in a huge city to build a huge business. I have big aspirations for Trainual, and I want our headquarters to be here. I want to represent Arizona, and show people you don’t have to sacrifice your family, and your friends, and your time with your kids, and your … Be a slave driver at work in order to scale a unicorn kind of business. You can do it with a great lifestyle and great balance.

Chris Stadler: Yeah.

Mike Jones: That’s awesome.

Chris Stadler: Yeah. I have yet to take the laptop to a swimming pool and work in the sunshine, but the day is coming.

Chris Ronzio: Oh, you got to do it.

Chris Stadler: The day is coming.

Mike Jones: [crosstalk 00:27:53] pretty soon, I think.

Chris Stadler: It’s so … It’s just … All right. The sun is bright.

Mike Jones: The sun is bright.

Chris Stadler: And the laptop can’t quite get …

Chris Ronzio: You need an umbrella.

Chris Stadler: Yeah. But I know people who have. Yeah. So what are the biggest challenges about starting a business in Arizona?

Chris Ronzio: I think just the sheer number of people with SaaS experience. So I’m coming from a software as a service business. And when you look at the SaaS companies that have grown and scaled and been successful in Arizona, it’s a pretty short list. It’s a new industry, and you don’t have the pools of talent you can recruit from like you might at a bigger city. I’m friends with all the other companies here. And so it’s hard to … You don’t want to poach talent.

Mike Jones: There’s only 450 now or whatever Greg Head’s got on his list.

Chris Stadler: Yeah. Greg’s List.

Mike Jones: Yeah.

Chris Stadler: [inaudible 00:28:49].

Chris Ronzio: And so you don’t want to steal talent from your friends, whereas in a bigger market, you’ve got a lot more available to you. So we’ve even tried to go outside of Arizona and bring people here. Our latest hire moved down from Michigan, and was super excited to come here, because who wouldn’t want to …

Chris Stadler: No more shoveling snow.

Mike Jones: Yeah, I know.

Chris Ronzio: Exactly. And I think that’s something we’ll try to do more and more, is we tout the lifestyle and the sunshine here, and say, “Come be a part of this. Come get out of the town you’re in now, and move here.”

Mike Jones: Yeah. So maybe there’s not only domain expertise, there’s only so many people with SaaS domain expertise here that you can feed off of and learn from, but also just the talent pool of people who have worked in those organizations and can build something.

Chris Ronzio: Right. So I think that’s the hardest challenge. Anything else, I don’t think has actually been that hard. I think, like I said, the community is extremely supportive. I think you can find funding if you need funding. I think the opportunity is there. The affordability is there. The atmosphere is great. So think everything is swaying in the positive other than we need more …

Mike Jones: Just more talent

Chris Ronzio: More talent. Yeah.

Mike Jones: Yeah.

Chris Stadler: At the same time, you can always get them to move, it sounds like.

Chris Ronzio: Yeah.

Mike Jones: Yeah.

Chris Ronzio: It’s probably a little more work. It’d be nice if they were all coming right out of the schools. Make it a little easier. We need a pipeline from some other state. Just a huge campaign. If anyone is listening and wants to band together to get an exodus from … I don’t know.

Chris Stadler: Set up a campaign at a university where there is a lot of talent, and just …

Mike Jones: Or even just bay area campaign.

Chris Stadler: Just shuttle people …

Chris Ronzio: Yeah.

Mike Jones: Yeah.

Chris Ronzio: Yeah, with a bunch of rainbows and Arizona’s the pot of gold.

Mike Jones: Yes.

Chris Ronzio: At the …

Mike Jones: Yes.

Chris Ronzio: Yeah. Totally. Totally.

Mike Jones: Yes.

Chris Stadler: The sun’s shining on it, and there’s a pool.

Chris Ronzio: And you can actually afford the place you live in.

Chris Stadler: With an umbrella. [crosstalk 00:30:50].

Chris Ronzio: It’s crazy. When I moved … So, in Boston, I had this condo. It was a two bedroom condo, and my monthly payment was 3400 dollars.

Mike Jones: Geez.

Chris Ronzio: And I came here, and it was 915 dollars for the most luxury condo [crosstalk 00:31:07] place you could find. With the pool, and the hot tub, and the gym. And I was like, “Why does anyone live in Massachusetts? That’s crazy.”

Chris Stadler: Totally.

Mike Jones: Yep.

Chris Stadler: And Scottsdale is nice, dude.

Mike Jones: Yes. It really is.

Chris Ronzio: There’s some great places there.

Chris Stadler: It’s just like driving through there is just like, “Am I on vacation?” I’m just driving through there.

Chris Ronzio: Right. Right. It’s surreal.

Chris Stadler: There’s a golf course over there, and there’s a golf course over there.

Chris Ronzio: Yeah. And the resorts, you can just go to the resort for dinner. And everyone else there is on vacation, and you’re like, “What’s up? I live here. This is my backyard.”

Mike Jones: Yeah. That’s great.

Chris Stadler: So, all right. So next question. So who’s doing it right in Arizona? Who’s doing it well in Arizona? Name names, if you want. But besides you, what are some businesses that represent Arizona really well?

Chris Ronzio: So a few come to mind. I think some of the businesses that are more established or second time founders. I mean, I was with Brad Jannenga last week at his house for an event he was hosting. And he just has this give back sense, of wanting to be a servant to the community, that I love. And I think the people that are operating in that way are what keeps our community growing and building. Gregg Scoresby, CampusLogic, another example. Clate Mask with now Keap. I’m meeting with both of them next week. And I think the accessibility of those founders is investing in the community. And so I love that aspect of it.

Chris Ronzio: I’m in a mastermind group in EO, entrepreneurial organization. Tons of businesses in there that are just shining examples. One, a friend of mine, Veronique at the James Agency. What I love is, again, the investment in the people. The … Every 45 days, they’re doing some crazy thing. Those huge slides at Lake Pleasant. And the culture that you build, and the community you build with people is what makes our state look great to all their friends and families that live elsewhere. And I think that’s important.

Mike Jones: I love it. So there’s this sense … I’m hearing a theme throughout this whole time we’re talking of a culture, right? That building that internal culture is something that it maybe is more conducive here in Arizona, and is something that you can really do some interesting and unique things with, and really investing in the people, and …

Chris Ronzio: Totally.

Mike Jones: Yeah.

Chris Ronzio: What makes two companies that do the same thing different? It’s their culture. So what, at a more macro level, makes business in one state versus business in another state? It’s the culture. You can build the same business here or California, but the culture around that business to support it and grow it and how it shapes as it grows is going to be influenced a lot by the other companies that are around, or by the other activities that are around, the other opportunities that are around. Arizona has phenomenal support from … We were fortunate to win the Arizona Innovation Challenge, and participate in Venture Ready, and Venture Madness. And these types of groups and events are what’s driving the community. And that makes us fundamentally different than what happens in Utah or what happens in Nevada. So, it’s important.

Chris Stadler: So there aren’t that many opportunities like that in other states?

Chris Ronzio: Sure. There are, but they’re different. They’re different people. They’re founded by people with different backgrounds. So we’re unique for the group that we put together. And I think if you like being here, you should build your business here. Don’t feel like you need to be somewhere else.

Chris Stadler: Well, that says a lot. So the fact that people like Brad Jannenga from WebPT …

Mike Jones: Originally, yeah. Originally.

Chris Stadler: Originally [crosstalk 00:34:54].

Mike Jones: Yeah. He’s got a new company now.

Chris Stadler: Oh nice. Okay. So leaders like that, I mean, I think that’s what makes the difference a lot of times in those … You can have all kinds of events in another state, but if you don’t have the leadership and the buy in from people, and them actually getting behind it, giving it, helping to give it meaning and develop the meaning, it might not quite be the same, right?

Chris Ronzio: Yeah. Totally.

Chris Stadler: It might be a little more hollow.

Chris Ronzio: So I mentioned, I think, before we were recording, I’m headed to Flagstaff next weekend with the StartupAZ group here. Another amazing founders group and mastermind. And the community that they bring together, and the philosophy of let’s build together, and then let’s support the next generation, let’s keep giving back. I think we’re just at the very beginning of that cycle. We don’t have these industry tycoons that founded … Made foundations in big cities. We’re just coming off the first wave of big exits in the first tech companies, and things like that. And so that community is brand new, and by engaging now, you are one of the founding partners of that community, so that in 20 years, you’re way further than you could be in a different city.

Mike Jones: Yeah. There’s a nascency to Phoenix and the Arizona community, especially from a startup or a tech based perspective of we’re still figuring out our identity a bit, and things are still new and fresh. And I love that concept of yeah, the community is just starting to gel and get formed, and leaders popping up and taking that forwards. And there’s an opportunity there, I think, for really anyone … Something I’ve believed in for over 10 years now of being in business in Arizona is just there’s more opportunity to take leadership roles here than there is, I think, in a lot of more established communities.

Chris Ronzio: Definitely.

Mike Jones: You walk into anywhere in the bay area or Boston or New York or even somewhere like Portland or Seattle, and you’re saying, “Hey. I want to establish my company here. I want to give back to the community.” Well, the opportunities to do that are much smaller, because they’ve already been taken. Right? The community is more formed, it’s more established, it’s already got some hierarchies, and some here’s who’s been doing it for a long time and …

Chris Ronzio: Right. Well, think of the difference between your 400 person lecture hall and my 40 person lecture hall. Who do you think has more opportunity to build a relationship with the professor? When the group is smaller, there’s more one on one attention. And we’ve got that here. So it’s an advantage.

Mike Jones: Yep. For sure. And it won’t last. Hopefully. I mean, hopefully it grows, right?

Chris Ronzio: Yeah, absolutely.

Mike Jones: And that’s … We shift, right? We have to change a little bit of what that advantage is, but …

Chris Ronzio: Yeah.

Chris Stadler: So question. What do you think that means for Arizona in the next 10 years? As far as our culture goes. The development of who Arizona is, right? So I know some of that’s going to be defined on who comes. Maybe there’s going to be some new companies that come. Maybe [inaudible 00:38:08], who just … Maybe some more of that happens, and maybe there’s some more leadership that comes from the outside, and also develops from the inside. So some of that’s going to be defined by the people, right? Of course, but what do you think, though? What do you think that means in general, though, as Arizona is … Maybe it’s a container for leadership. I don’t know. What do you think that means, though, for the next 10 years?

Chris Ronzio: Well, what I’d like to see happen is that more big companies either move here, are founded here, and grow large bases of employees here, because people move through those organizations faster. They get trained, and they get great experience, and then they go and spin off their own business, or they join another startup. And I think part of the talent problem that we have is because there’s not a lot of those big companies where you can appeal to someone that got a great foundation of knowledge at the big company and now wants to spin into a small company or start their own. And so we need more of those businesses. And I think we’re just starting to get there. We’re building a wave of companies that are growing. We need more of those. So it’s a heads down effort to build this wave of businesses, but I’m optimistic about it.

Mike Jones: Yeah. That’s cool. Would you want an Amazon here? I know that was a big conversation point. What was that, a year and a half ago, when they were shopping for an HQ2, and there was a lot of discussion around is that a good thing or a bad thing for Arizona. And what does that look like?

Chris Ronzio: Well, I’m coming at this blind. [inaudible 00:39:37]

Mike Jones: Yeah, sorry.

Chris Ronzio: I wasn’t a part of that discussion, but I say at face value, yeah. It’s a good thing. Having those big companies with a lot of tech talent that is here means there’s more opportunity for us smaller companies to source talent from the bigger companies that may have the experience, may love the community that they end up in, but don’t necessarily love the position that they’re stuck in at the big company. And I think people moving from one business to the next is the future. Employees will be more portable in the future. I’ve talked to a company that is creating benefits plans that the employee takes with them from business to business.

Chris Ronzio: I think that’s part of what is fueling us with Trainual, is that when you get everyone on the team to document their knowledge of what … And their experience of what they’re learning, then if they leave, you’re not so mad about it, because you’ve got all that experience and that IP that you can easily pass to the next person. The problem when someone leaves and you’re mad about it is because you feel like they’re taking all that knowledge with them. And so the more we can make it easier with tech for people to jump from one opportunity to the next, the more they feel like consultants, that they can dive in, add some great value, make faster progress in their career. And I think that this ecosystem will support that better if we have some bigger companies here.

Chris Stadler: Yeah. See, I …

Mike Jones: That’s an interesting thought.

Chris Stadler: Yeah. I thought you’d be like, “Well, they’re a big company. They’re going to take too much of the leadership in this area,” but you’re not worried about that. You’re more worried about …

Chris Ronzio: No.

Chris Stadler: Now bringing the talent.

Chris Ronzio: Yeah, more an abundance mindset. If you’re afraid that they’re going to steal your workforce, then you’re not playing at market levels. And so you need to pay market rates. You need to give market benefits. You need to focus on what makes your culture special, and you need to attract people that appreciate that, because if you’re worried everyone’s going to leave for the next big company and you can’t compete with that, then how do you expect to compete longterm? We can’t keep them out. We have to embrace them.

Chris Stadler: Right. Right. Love it.

Mike Jones: Yep. It’s like you have to actually build the attraction, right? Rather than just a defensive keep them out, keep them away.

Chris Ronzio: Totally. You can’t build detour signs around Disneyland.

Mike Jones: Yeah.

Chris Ronzio: People want to go there, you know?

Mike Jones: Yes.

Chris Stadler: Yeah, like if you’re going to do anything, have a really good teacup startup and just do teacups better than Disneyland, right?

Mike Jones: I love that.

Chris Ronzio: A niche theme park that’s just teacups.

Mike Jones: Yeah. I’m here for the teacups.

Chris Stadler: Your riches are in the niches, right?

Chris Ronzio: Fast, faster, or hyper speed. [inaudible 00:42:23] I’m sick enough on the teacups already, right?

Mike Jones: I know. I know. I’m imagining some pretty interesting setup around the teacup.

Chris Stadler: Also where you have to sign to go on the new … [inaudible 00:42:38].

Mike Jones: You have to sign a waver that says I take full responsibility for whatever I’ve eaten in the last hour.

Chris Ronzio: Yeah. Yeah. They can serve artisan teas, and there would just be a whole theme.

Chris Stadler: So it won’t be as bad if you get splashed on you from other people.

Chris Ronzio: And tea …

Chris Stadler: Yeah. And …

Chris Ronzio: All right. This is going south fast.

Chris Stadler: Free T-shirts everywhere.

Mike Jones: It usually does.

Chris Stadler: I got barfed on at the teacups. All right. I just thought I’d take it all the way there so we can move on. So I do have another question. So Arizona … So you mentioned maybe we don’t have as much SaaS talent, right? What talent do we have? So, we don’t talk much about U of A. It seems like ASU always comes up, because we’re in Phoenix, but aren’t they good at something? Don’t they make … I’m thinking of biotech or something like that? [crosstalk 00:43:30].

Chris Ronzio: My operations manager went to U of A. So if she’s listening … I’m very supportive of U of A.

Mike Jones: No, there are some great colleges down there.

Chris Stadler: Totally. That’s what I’m wondering about.

Mike Jones: [crosstalk 00:43:41].

Chris Stadler: There must be …

Mike Jones: Some presence here as well, up here in the valley, in Phoenix. Yeah, medical. It’s always been a big strong point for them. Biotech. Great engineering school. A lot of civil engineers here in the valley have come out of U of A. Especially if they’re in … I’ll drop some big words. Hydrology and geomorphology.

Chris Stadler: Yeah. Nice, Mike. Nice.

Mike Jones: I know too much about too many weird random crap. They’re one of the top schools in the country for that, which is super specialized civil engineering.

Chris Ronzio: I think just from being on the front lines of the hiring process, I think we have a lot of great generalists, because there’s a lot of people that have done a lot of things. And that adaptability is great for startups. And so that’s something that we may need more talent for businesses at scale, but we can support a lot of smaller businesses just getting started with ninja, Swiss army knife type people. And we’ve got those. Yeah.

Mike Jones: Switching gears just a hair, I want to get back into Trainual a little bit. How have you seen … What’s been the trajectory of building the brand for Trainual? Have you seen that have an impact on the business? I’m going to guess there’s some of that’s actually an internal, an employee centric brand as well, but how do you see brand in the mix of how you guys are building the company?

Chris Ronzio: Brand is everything.

Mike Jones: Yes.

Chris Stadler: Mike, we [crosstalk 00:45:18]. We didn’t pay him. We just …

Mike Jones: [crosstalk 00:45:18] Check that box.

Chris Ronzio: [crosstalk 00:45:19] Yeah. No, but really. I was in New York on Monday with Gary [V 00:45:24], and talking about brand, and the different between personal brand and your logo, and just how you think about brand. And really what you do is a commodity. Anyone could do what you do. So what makes a customer connect with you over someone else is your brand and how they perceive you, and how much they like you. And it has to be a human thing. And so we made the decision when we were building Trainual that we weren’t just building it as a faceless logo tech company. We were building it on the heels of my operations consulting firm, and the 150 businesses that I spent five years consulting for, and my experience as a leader with those companies, and my experience with the last business, and telling those stories.

Chris Ronzio: All of our ads that we started with on Facebook were me and my brother on an iPhone, walking down the street, saying, “Hey. Do you have this problem?” And it’s crazy that none of our other competitors or other big tech companies are doing that. They’re … Everything’s so polished and perfect, and that’s not human.

Mike Jones: Yeah.

Chris Stadler: Right.

Mike Jones: It’s impersonal.

Chris Ronzio: Yeah. And so I think we’ve done a great job with investing in the brand, and building Trainual as a simple, accessible, powered by humans training manual software. And we’re doubling down on that big time. We’ve got an in house video producer. We’ve got an in house copywriter, content manager. We’ve got in house social media. We’re almost building an agency to support our SaaS business. And I think that’s a smart way to do it.

Mike Jones: Yeah.

Chris Stadler: Definitely.

Mike Jones: That seems like it’s a growing trend for a lot of SaaS companies, is to build that creative talent in house. Do you think some of that’s just the nature of marketing, and the content required for marketing now? That’s so real time, that there’s so much quantity required?

Chris Ronzio: Yeah. There’s …

Mike Jones: It’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about.

Chris Ronzio: The volume of stuff that you need to put out is huge. The people that will win this are the ones creating the most relevant content and getting the most eyeballs. And so you need to just be producing things at scale. Video, photos, audio, podcasts, blog posts, articles, guest blogs. There’s just so much content you could do, right? I don’t think working with an agency’s a bad thing, though. I think agencies are great, because they provide that outside perspective that you can’t always get as the … Being so close to it. And some people, if they don’t have the building blocks for their strong culture and their people management and … They can’t attract and retain talent, and they’ve got turnover, then you can waste a lot of money and time trying to do this all in house. So I think an agency can be that leg of the tripod to get you started, or get that consistency until you’re mature enough to do it yourself.

Mike Jones: Yeah.

Chris Stadler: Yeah. Totally agree with that.

Mike Jones: You can’t see it, but we’re … Chris and I were just nodding our heads the whole time.

Chris Stadler: Yeah.

Mike Jones: It’s so funny. That’s something I think we’ve been talking a lot about over the last couple years, is we look at our own. We’re an agency at some level. It’s a lot of what we do, and I can’t tell you how many conversations we have with clients who are like, “Well, we want to scale all of our content.” We help them out with content strategy and how do we scale that, how do we build it? And I’m always like, “Well, you know the end goal here is to build you a team, right? We can’t be that for you forever. We can definitely get you started. We can provide some insights. We can definitely consult and provide strategy that maybe you won’t be able to do fully in house, but …”

Chris Stadler: Yeah. Even do it for a little bit, and then …

Mike Jones: And do it for a little bit.

Chris Stadler: So you can hand it off.

Mike Jones: Build you some processes. Help you recruit …

Chris Stadler: Put some processes in Trainual.

Mike Jones: Yeah. There you go.

Chris Ronzio: Yeah. There you go. I think when I was consulting …

Chris Stadler: Actually, that’s not a bad idea.

Mike Jones: I have so many ideas after this show, Chris. Chris Stadler, to make that clear.

Chris Ronzio: Which Chris? But when I was consulting, it was operations consulting, and I would talk to a business that didn’t have enough customers. The problem is go get more customers. You can waste a lot of time on your operations, but you need to get more customers. That’s what every business needs to solve. And so if you don’t have a number of customers or clients that are causing your business operations to be chaotic, then focus on getting customers. And a lot of that’s brand, and it’s advertising, and it’s spending money, and investing in that area. A lot of people invest too much in infrastructure. You want it to break. You want to bring in enough customers.

Chris Ronzio: And so that’s what we did with Trainual. When it was just three of us … Now we’re 18. When it was just three of us, we’re spending more than our entire payroll on Facebook ads. And we were trying to break the business with the number of customers that we had. And then as something breaks, and you fix it. And the business keeps getting more stable and more mature, but the driving force for the company is your brand, your advertising, your messaging. If you have the best business in the world, but no one knows about it, then what good is that?

Mike Jones: Yeah. Yeah. It’s like the Seth [inaudible 00:50:30] ethos of it’s better to just ship it than to have it perfect. You can sit there a whole day perfecting your product, and perfecting your operations, and yet if it’s never being stress test, you don’t actually know if you’ve built the right thing. Right?

Chris Ronzio: Right.

Mike Jones: I can’t … So many businesses I talk to were so consumed with building this perfect process, perfect service, perfect product. And I’m like, “Yeah, but you haven’t even launched it yet. So how do you even know if it’s perfect until people start using it?” [crosstalk 00:51:00]

Chris Ronzio: I would rather someone build something, sell … 100 people sign up and 100 people cancel rather than you take a year, two years to build something and you get one person that signed up. If 100 people sign up and 100 people cancel, your marketing is great. Your product needs work now. But keep the marketing going …

Mike Jones: But now you have feedback.

Chris Ronzio: Yeah.

Chris Stadler: Yeah. With the marketing, and make what the marketing is saying.

Chris Ronzio: Right. You have 100 people who wanted something, right? They just didn’t want the thing that you had for them.

Mike Jones: Right.

Chris Stadler: Well, and too … Operationally too, as more customers come in, your business is being stress tested, now you have to make more … Faster decisions, which can be really good. That builds maturity with the employees. And so you’re growing internally too. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s a bad thing if your clients walk away feeling like they didn’t get what they paid for. But …

Chris Ronzio: But then you have those conversations. And like you said, you get great feedback. You build the thing they wanted, and then you give them free access for a few months, and you win them back as a customer. But they … You’ve proven the hardest thing, which is I can get someone to give me their credit card, because this is what I said, and this is what they want. And once you’ve figured that out …

Mike Jones: Those matched up.

Chris Ronzio: Yeah. And that’s the secret. And once you figure that out, the product can always get better. The people can always get better, but the way that you message what you do and get people to give you money is the hardest thing in business. So I think start there.

Mike Jones: Okay. There we go.

Chris Stadler: That’s awesome.

Mike Jones: We’ll put that in the show notes for sure.

Chris Stadler: I know, that’s awesome.

Mike Jones: Top tip from Chris Ronzio, experience growing Trainual. That’s awesome.

Chris Ronzio: Yeah.

Mike Jones: We only have a few more minutes, so I thought I’d ask one more question, and then we can get to our closing stuff. What’s been maybe your biggest highlight and maybe biggest challenge over the last 18 months since you’ve started and grown Trainual? So I guess two for one question there.

Chris Ronzio: Yeah, good question. I would say business highlight, we … When we were a team of 10 earlier this year, we did a three day retreat to Lake Tahoe. And so it was outside of Arizona, but worth it.

Mike Jones: No, that’s awesome.

Chris Ronzio: We’re here all the time.

Mike Jones: Get outside.

Chris Ronzio: We go there for vacation.

Mike Jones: Different experience.

Chris Ronzio: And that was such a surreal thing to do. We did that as a celebration of having the first 1000 companies on the platform. And getting everyone together and celebrating that win, I think, was a highlight. And it’s something that a lot of companies don’t do. They don’t establish what the wins are, and then they don’t celebrate when they get there. And that’s really important for building momentum and building culture. So that was a highlight.

Chris Ronzio: A low. Let’s see. What’s been a low? We …

Mike Jones: Sometimes those are harder. You don’t want to dwell on them.

Chris Ronzio: No, it is. Yeah. It’s just a learning experience, right? I mean …

Mike Jones: Yeah, or maybe biggest hurdle you’ve had to overcome, maybe.

Chris Ronzio: We had a … We just moved offices. Up until our new office, we had about 40 square feet per employee. And so everybody was just swinging into each other, and backing their chairs into each other. That was hard for a while. We had one of our earliest employees move to San Francisco, so that was one of the only … That’s the only one person we’ve lost this whole time. And it was great. We’re very supportive of her. And … But that was …

Mike Jones: It hurts.

Chris Ronzio: Yeah. It’s that … I learned a lot about hiring and interviewing and trying to re-engineer that role. So there’s hiccups along the way, but net everything is going in the right direction.

Mike Jones: That’s so awesome.

Chris Ronzio: And that’s what’s important.

Mike Jones: That’s super exciting. We’re about to close up, is there anything … You got any projects, events, or anything in particular you want to let our listeners know about? You want to plug before we close out?

Chris Ronzio: Yeah. We’ve got a lot going on. We’re starting to sponsor events if anyone happens to be in Bali at the end of the month. We’re sponsoring a conference in Bali, which … Just a fun thing to be involved in.

Mike Jones: That’s awesome.

Chris Ronzio: I would say if you’re growing a business or working at a business, and trying to build your playbook, the number one piece of feedback I’ve gotten from people that are in that spot is they don’t know what they don’t know. And we built this list of over 150 things you might want to document inside your business. If go to trainual.com/checklist, it’s just a great list to read through to say, “Wow. Yeah. We have that problem and haven’t addressed it.”

Mike Jones: That’s awesome. I’m already thinking Chris or I are going to be downloading that in a few moments.

Chris Ronzio: [inaudible 00:55:38].

Mike Jones: I was like, “That sounds awesome.”

Chris Ronzio: And then definitely feel free to reach out to me. Just @chrisronzio on any of the channels.

Mike Jones: Perfect.

Chris Ronzio: Cool.

Mike Jones: Cool. And people can find out more about Trainual through Trainual.com. T-R-A-I-N-U-A-L.com. Right?

Chris Ronzio: You got it.

Mike Jones: Did I get that right?

Chris Ronzio: Yep.

Mike Jones: And we’ll help make sure that’s in the show notes so everybody can click through and get that real easily. Chris, we just want to thank you so much for coming on the show today.

Chris Stadler: Yeah.

Chris Ronzio: Yeah, thank you.

Mike Jones: And chatting with us.

Chris Ronzio: This was fun.

Mike Jones: And telling us more about Trainual, and being willing to just talk about Arizona and experiences here.

Chris Ronzio: Yeah.

Mike Jones: It was super helpful for us.

Chris Stadler: It was a smart conversation.

Mike Jones: It was super smart.

Chris Stadler: It’s good.

Mike Jones: So … [crosstalk 00:56:18]

Chris Ronzio: We love it here, happy to share.

Mike Jones: That’s awesome. And I love that you’re building and scaling a SaaS product here in Arizona. That just gets me so excited. I’m like, “Yes. More. We need more.” So and just that vision that you’re looking to grow something big. It’s really cool. So I want to thank everybody for taking the time to listen to AZ Brandcast today. This has been another fantastic episode. Definitely want to shout out to Chris and Trainual for coming on today. And of course, we want to give some other shout outs, of course, to our sponsors, Conscious Capitalism Arizona, who so graciously make sure that this show happens every single month for us. And Karen Nowicki, our producer, with Phoenix Business RadioX, and our … She hosts things here. She makes sure that everything is working perfectly so we all get a great show. It’s awesome.

Chris Stadler: Karen is awesome.

Mike Jones: And our friends here at MAC6, who provide the space. So we love them. We love MAC6. If you guys want to find out anything more about our show, you can check it out at azbrandcast.com. You can also sign up for our newsletter there, so you can always get updates about what’s going on with our show, new episodes, and any other updates that we have for you. And then of course, you can find this show anywhere that you like to listen to your podcasts. So iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play. We’re not on Spotify as well. So if you’re looking for getting every single episode or go look through some of our old episodes, we’ve got some great conversations where people just like Chris, who founded amazing companies here in Arizona and are doing great things with them, growing them, scaling them, and giving back, which I think is a really important part of why we want to highlight them on our show.

Mike Jones: We’ve got some amazing conversations with people like Heidi Jannenga from WebPT, or Greg Head, who’s done a lot of work with SaaS companies here. And even some more traditional style companies, like we’ve had Kyle McIntosh from MAC6 on. We’ve had Adam Goodman from Goodmans Interior Structures. So tons of great episodes. Every one of them, I think, has at least one golden nugget of, “Oh. I can take that and go run with it with my business or my leadership within my company,” if you’re working for somebody else. So …

Chris Stadler: That’s right.

Mike Jones: Definitely go check those out.

Chris Stadler: Yeah.

Mike Jones: They’re all out there. I want to thank everybody. Chris, always, an awesome time co-hosting with you.

Chris Stadler: Likewise. Always a pleasure and every chore.

Mike Jones: Yes. We’re winning. So thank you everybody for checking out AZ Brandcast. We’ll see you next time.

Chris Stadler: And don’t forget, you are remarkable.

Mike Jones: Yes.