A combination of sweat and faith are enough to get you through the hard times. Just ask Chad Gniffke, CEO of briteCITY.
“If you want to get real movie-esque in your writing,” he jokes, “I had a hope and a dream to one day earn my shares with the organization through sweaty equity. Which my now-business partner was willing to let me do.”
Indeed, Gniffke joined the Orange County, California-based briteCITY in 2014. The company began in 2007, but founders Scott Senerchia and Ryon Ellis later parted ways. That led to a financial challenge -- and opportunity -- for Gniffke.
Senerchia told Gniffke the math was simple: If Gniffke could generate enough business to cover his own pay check then he might one day make partner at the company. “And that’s what happened,” says Gniffke. “So within a six month period I was able to obtain enough business to provide me with a salary that takes care of my family and me. We’ve been growing ever since.”
The Path To Success
Gniffke started his career in 1999 as an IT service provider at inhouseIT. It was during his eight and a half years there that he met Senerchia and formed a friendship. Though they wouldn’t work together for many years.
Gniffke took a year off from the IT world before moving to MSP software provider, Kaseya. He spent eight years there marketing and managing various products for the organization. A private equity firm acquired Kaseya in 2013 and moved the operation to Boston. They offered to let Gniffke retain his job as long as he relocated with the company. Ultimately, Gniffke and his wife realized they wanted to stay close to their family in California.
That’s when Gniffke approached Senerchia with his proposal. It was a difficult first six months as Gniffke worked to drum up business. But he says his religious faith got him through the tough times. “The amount of business that just happened to come in that six months versus some of the dry six months that we’ve had, I will tell you, that when I look back it almost looks like a miracle to me,” he says.
Faith In Family
Religion is important to Gniffke (“If you can say ‘Jesus’ in the post I’d be pumped,” he jokes) and kept him going through his days as a commission-only salesperson. Family is as important though and it’s clearly had an influence on his career.
“Ever since I started something I desired was to have my own firm because I watched my dad growing up,” he says. Gniffke’s father has owned many firms over the years. Currently, he heads Caliber Media Group. His grandfather ran a successful farm in Minnesota. A farm that remains in the family to this day. He says he has other uncles who are high-end executives in different countries. Even his brother is a successful DJ in Honolulu. “He works two days a week and probably makes more money than I do,” he says.
Growing With The Company
When Gniffke started with briteCITY he was the fifth employee. The company now has 14 workers. Gniffke’s job during that time was to grow the business. As the company expanded so did his role.
When you ask Gniffke how he went from a commission-only salesperson to the CEO of the company he has a hard time defining the path. But it seems as though he was drawn to it. “I just enjoy being in a leadership position,” he says. “I hope people want to follow me. I enjoy spurring people on.”
Gniffke says briteCITY has its eye toward expanding beyond Orange Country one day but isn’t in too much of a hurry. “If the opportunity presents itself, definitely,” he says. “Organizationally, we have things in such a place where that makes it more possible today.”
Outside the office, Gniffke likes to play with tech like his new smart home products. But he says he’s also the type of person who likes taking his work home with him. “I enjoy work stuff so much my hobby sometimes is just to go home and try and figure out how to do something better at work,” he says. “I like the problem-solving things.”
Whatever helped him along the way, it seems to be working.
Ty Trumbull covers the entrepreneur-to-exit (E2E) journey for ChannelE2E. Tell Ty and Joe Panettieri about your journey and perhaps we'll cover it on ChannelE2E.