“I didn’t wake up and want to be a designer one day, I wanted to be an entrepreneur.” -Chad
Since his childhood, Chad has acted on this vision. He sketched portraits of people and charged them quarters for it. To do this he would go around with a sketchbook, using the front pages for his drawings and the back pages to keep track of his earnings. This concept of “creating something, hustling, and selling it to people,” formed a pattern in his adult life as a founder of 3 companies. With this in mind, every company that Chad created has been a stepping stone to a higher understanding of problems he wants to solve in the world.
- Entrepreneur Spotlight: Chad Reynolds
- Companies: Batterii, Crush Republic, & hyperQUAKE
- Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
By the time he got to college, Chad knew he wanted to start a company. He went to the University of Cincinnati (UC) where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Graphic Design. He was also involved in the DAAP Program (Design, Architecture, Art, & Planning) which consisted of 5 years rotating between school and co-ops. He was able to intern in Boston, LA, and San Francisco.
While interning in San Francisco, Chad grew inspired by the “Dot-Com Boom.” He wanted to do something in the tech space and online, which led him to hyperQUAKE.
- Founder and CCO
- January 2000- June 2008 (Cincinnati, OH)
hyperQUAKE is a brand design and marketing agency.
In June 2000, and literally the day that Chad graduated college, he founded hyperQUAKE in a very tiny room in Cincinnati, Ohio. His co-ops in San Francisco inspired how stories could be told online to millions of people. Once he had his first sale he decided he didn’t want to be a designer, but rather an entrepreneur (hence, the quote mentioned above). Chad wanted to focus more on growing his business rather than executing the work.
hyperQUAKE stayed in that tiny room until he was able to acquire other clients, like; New Balance, Procter & Gamble, Scripps Networks (HGTV, DIY, Food Network) and Warner Bros. Pictures to name a few. After 8 years of hustle, hyperQUAKE employed 40+ full-time employees and grew the business continuously, expanding its work globally.
What were some initial challenges you faced starting your first company?
He was a young kid at the time (age 22) going to strategic business meetings with people much older than him asking for big budgets and to trust him with their brand. However, being young also became a huge asset, as it meant he understood his target market for telling brand stories online. “We needed to unlock a whole new way to experience brands by connecting through a consumer’s lifestyle,” he said.
What else helped him out initially was his perseverance. As he mentioned during the interview, “if you keep iterating enough on your idea, you’ll end up at a really good spot.” He continued to test and prototype new ideas to see what worked and what didn’t.
In June 2008, he “took a left turn” to focus on a new challenge. He sold his stake in the company and reinvested it into Crush Republic & Ventures, the 2nd company he founded.
Crush Republic & Ventures
- Founder & Advisor
- October 2008- Present (Cincinnati, OH)
Crush Republic & Ventures, I’ll call it Crush for short, is “a unique Consumer Research, Design and Digital agency [and] a pioneer in CoCreation®.”
Back in 2008 (the year it was founded), as Chad said, “social media wasn’t what it is today.” Facebook was new and just gaining traction among users. This meant that there was huge opportunity for brands to get people involved with creating new ideas, concepts, and products…which is exactly what Crush wanted to do.
What led you to leave hyperQUAKE and found Crush Republic & Ventures?
Chad said he wanted to get consumers involved with brands in a meaningful way. He set up a meeting with Nike out in Portland, Oregon to discuss reimagining what Nike could be with different consumer insights. Then, through this partnership, the idea became tangible and started a 2-year journey to reimagine the role that sports played in consumer’s lives.
To truly bring businesses and consumers together, he thought, you’d have to focus on building mutual relationships, where both parties learn something new and feel valued. With that in mind, Chad mentioned how “focus groups aren’t working” these days, and that he wanted to create a cooler experience for sharing. So he thought, “what if a focus group could be like a scavenger hunt in each consumer’s life and that takes place over a week or two?” That’s what Crush did through their process of “CoCreation,” which was a new idea at the time. With offices in Portland and Cincinnati, Crush was able to partner with companies like Blackberry, Mountain Hardwear, Nike, and SCJohnson, among others.
However, while still at Crush, Chad had another big idea on the backburner…
Having an office and clients in Portland and Cincinnati meant that sharing ideas with the other side of the country was difficult to do via phone or the internet. Chad hired a development team to build a prototype of a collaboration platform for sharing content to try and solve this problem. This was before the days of Pinterest and Dropbox, where sharing content online in a truly visible way was nearly impossible. Companies were using Evernote, Basecamp, and other specifically file-sharing services only, and it just wasn’t enough to get the job done.
As platform usage increased, Chad realized that this was solving a big problem that other creative teams experienced. So big, that Chad decided to split the company into two separate entities in 2011, turning this sharing content concept into his third company: Batterii.
- Founder and CCO
- October 2010- Present (Cincinnati)
In 2011, Chad founded Batterii, an enterprise platform created for teams to “explore, ideate, [visually organize,] synthesize and design collaboratively,” especially when they can’t all meet in person.
…It’s basically Pinterest, Instagram, and Dropbox encompassed in one visual tool (see the cinemagraph below).
Initially, he met with angel investors who, for the most part, rejected the idea. They told him that only a small segment of the market would ever want to share their inspiration with other people, basically that this idea was not big enough.
However, early-stage VC’s like CincyTech saw the potential…So far
So far Batterii has secured $6.5 million in funding with 200+ customers, including Adidas and other global enterprises.
Likewise, “the software has evolved into the most robust creative problem solving and innovation platform on the market.” It has 18 full-time employees who are building the next phase of the company – bringing it online for any company in the world to sign up.
Chad’s end goal for Batterii was to help individuals, small teams, as well as entire global companies with their creative process.
What’s your favorite part of your job as Founder & CCO of Batterii?
“Everyday is completely different,” he said immediately. Also the vision of his company, where they’re trying to orchestrate all the different resources together to be able to delight a customer at every touch point (basically, make the platform consistent, user-friendly and an enjoyable experience). Batterii wants to be a software company that understands you, as a user, on all 3-D levels (as in, what are you doing, thinking, and feeling).
“Humans are the most inefficient creatures in the world,” Chad said.
The purpose of Batterii is to help people access and share their information faster and more effectively. Unambiguously, Batterii helps creatives communicate their ideas by mastering brainstorming techniques and fueling innovation.
What’s your biggest piece of advice you could give to an aspiring entrepreneur?
I got multiple answers from Chad to this last question. He first responded with “your ideas can only take you so far.” What he meant is that you have to create prototypes, then get feedback “as quick and as often as you can.” Be conscious not to waste money and time for you and your investors. Also, although this is hard for anyone to hear, “you’re not the smartest person in the room, but you can be successful if you build small and quickly iterate on your customer’s feedback.”
Through interviewing Chad, I feel that I’m one step closer to understanding the minds of some of today’s successful innovators. As you’ll see with the other spotlight’s, there is most definitely no universal formula for starting a company. Each one has their own path, but what they share is a lot of motivation, sweat, and most importantly: