Today, I’m proud to announce that Trainual has raised $27M in new funding from an incredible group of investors. (Altos Ventures, Shark Group CEO Daymond John, and Indeed co-founder and Chairman Rony Kahan included – just to name a few.)
I see announcements like this pop up from the companies I buy from and support all the time. But from the outside, you can only imagine how surreal this experience is. So, I want to personally give you an inside look into why we decided to raise money. Plus, what it means for our customers, our team, and the millions of small businesses we exist to serve.
Why we decided to raise money
I’ve always been skeptical of fundraising. Maybe you have, too.
I bootstrapped my first and second businesses for 18 years. Then, I started Trainual with the service revenues that I had tucked away from years of consulting entrepreneurs.
Our beginnings were incredibly humble. A team of five in a room that could hardly fit us all at once. And two dozen customers who validated my belief that small businesses need a way to capture and centralize who they are, what they do, and how they do it.
In our first few months, I remember giving a demo and being asked, “what happens if you go out of business?”
“That won’t happen,” I assured them, over-caffeinated and over-confident.
But the entrepreneur on the other line started listing off venture-backed companies that had burned their way to bankruptcy. It was a cautionary tale, one that left a lasting impression.
So, we did something different than most SaaS companies. We got to profitability first just like our customers around the world fight to do every day. And we committed to setting a great example, sharing our stories and lessons along the way.
In our first year, we grew to nearly 1k companies worldwide. And again and again, our product proved that it worked for small businesses.
But to reach more small businesses at the speed we wanted, we needed to invest in sales and marketing in a way that my pockets (and credit limits) couldn’t sustain. So, in November 2019, we made a strategic decision to bring on investors in a Series A round.
What we did with Series A
When we raised $6.75M in Series A, I knew we were bringing on shareholders and board members, but I didn’t realize they’d double as partners and mentors as well.
We were incredibly fortunate to find 4490 Ventures, MATH Venture Partners, and PHX Ventures. They’re a team of experienced operators and advisors that weren’t there to modify my vision but to magnify it. And we couldn’t have brought them on at a better time.
When the pandemic hit a few months after raising the money, we had a product positioned to help businesses embrace remote work and onboard new hires from anywhere. It kept processes consistent across locations, and it made rolling out new policies easier in a year of intense change.
Our investors advised us to lean into this positioning. And since Series A, we more than tripled our revenues and our team size, expanded our Arizona headquarters, and added teammates worldwide.
But, more specifically, we invested in 4 things to make this all happen:
- The core product – Today in Trainual, you can embed content from hundreds of sources to get all your training in one place. You can control the training experience with role-based assignments, due dates, and repeat training. You can automate how you announce changes to your important policies and processes. And with the latest updates to our platform’s infrastructure, you can do it 200% faster!
- Our culture – We’ve focused heavily on being an incredible place to go to work each day. And being recognized as an Inc Best Workplaces (2021) and Phoenix Best Places to Work (2019 and 2020) is just a nod to everything our incredible people operations team does behind the scenes. Culture surveys, in-person and virtual company events, and constantly finding new growth opportunities for the team included.
- Your experience – If you’ve ever chatted with our team, attended a training event or called our phone number (yes, we actually answer), you’ve felt the tremendous impact of our customer success team. We know firsthand that building the systems and processes in your business can be an isolating task. So, we make sure you don’t ever have to go about it alone.
- Your attention – Maybe you’ve seen our ads with flamethrowers, a stack of hats, the cast of The Office, or the countless other ways we get you to stop your scroll. Maybe you’ve listened to one of our podcasts, learned something from our YouTube channel, or read the weekly newsletter and blog that so many people rave about. However we get your attention, we have our sights set on being your #1 small business resource (one that’s helpful, interesting, and actually entertaining).
So far, it’s been an amazing journey, and we’ve learned a lot in the last 3.5 years.
But the most important lesson came from the customers that didn’t stick around: as much as business leaders want a business playbook, the task of creating one feels insurmountable.
In a way, this truth seems to represent the ironic burden of small businesses everywhere. Most business leaders want to get out of the day-to-day. Yet, first chance, they jump back into the daily operations – rather than teaching someone else to run things their way.
Yet, according to one of my mentors, Michael E. Gerber, you have to work on the business if you want to stop working in it. So, we started asking: how can we make this important work even easier for people who already have a lot on their plate? And that led us to raise Series B.
Series B (and beyond)
Don’t get me wrong – we recognize that the playbook for your business won’t write itself. But I’d like to invite you into a future where it does. A future where Trainual makes that happen for you.
We believe every business needs a playbook. One that breaks down your company’s story, values, and culture on top of your policies, processes, roles, and responsibilities. That way, you have one tangible collection of what you and your team are building.
So, here are a few ways that we plan to make that happen now that we’ve raised Series B:
- For our customers – The support you’ve come to expect will expand. And you’ll have a product that more completely captures your business and how it works. Plus, we’re adding thousands of certified consultants worldwide to help you do the work where you are.
- For our team – We’re adding 50+ roles in the next two years across every department and promoting several new leaders in the process. We’re also helping our people with their own journey of documenting and delegating their best practices as we grow.
- For all small businesses – This investment is an indicator that the tides are changing for growing companies. And the investment will allow us to create technology and events that empower business leaders to free up bandwidth for important but not urgent tasks. This way, today’s small businesses can be the most stable, mature businesses of their breed that the world has ever seen. And, in turn, a more powerful force in the economy.
But for now, it’s business as usual over here. As I said, we’ve been fortunate to build Trainual in a way that didn’t require funding to support an endless burn. So, we’ll march into this next phase with more new partners, advisors, mentors, and a team that’s just as excited to help you grow your business as they have been about growing ours!
For more on what it means to have a playbook in your business, join us at Playbook 2021.
Founder and CEO of Trainual