By: Falon Donahue
Rod is the founder and CEO of ConnXus, a Cincinnati-based supplier diversity software company that helps grow small, woman-, minority- and veteran-owned businesses by connecting them to Fortune 2000 corporate buyers. Rod received his bachelor’s degree in accounting from the West Virginia University Institute of Technology and earned his MBA at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2012, Rod was recognized by Ernst & Young as an Entrepreneur of the Year finalist.
How many times did you fail before finding success with your current company?
I have been successfully failing and learning as an entrepreneur since pursuing my first entrepreneurial venture at age 11. I still fail today, but I take the learnings and convert those failings into successes. Any great salesperson knows that each failed customer conversion (“NO”) puts you one step closer to a “YES.” The same goes for entrepreneurship. “Those who are not willing to fail need not apply.”
What is the most important lesson you learned from failure and success?
Failure is where I achieved the most personal growth. It’s during the most difficult times that you learn the true character of an individual, and it is where my patience and perseverance was tried and tested. I believe these are two most essential elements to any successful entrepreneur. When it comes to success, it’s all about your team! Surround yourself with people smarter than you and create an environment where they can do their best work.
Why did you choose to scale your business in Ohio?
I had lived in Ohio for eight years prior to starting ConnXus. When I relocated here 14 years ago as an executive with Cincinnati Bell, I thought we would be in and out within five years. However, we quickly realized that Ohio was a great place to live and raise my family. During that time, I was able to observe how the Cincinnati entrepreneurial ecosystem was growing. I was fortunate to develop relationships with many of the key players (VCs, attorneys, entrepreneurs, etc.) who were making it happen. That definitely inspired me.
What is the most difficult part about doing business in Ohio?
Starting a software company in Ohio and trying to raise money from VC’s on the coasts proved to be a bit challenging in the early days. However, that is rapidly changing as we continue to witness the success of companies like Assurex, ConnXus, Dotloop, EVERYTHING BUT THE HOUSE, Lisnr and many more in the pipeline. Catalyst organizations like CincyTech, Cintrifuse and The Brandery are certainly smoothing the path.
What is one thing that someone reading this blog could do to help your company?
We would love to being doing more business with Ohio companies. The bulk of our Fortune 1000 customers are based outside of Ohio. Our rapidly growing customer list includes Allstate Insurance, American Express, Cummins, Caesars Entertainment, Coca Cola, Facebook, Harley-Davidson and The National Basketball Association. If you are an Ohio-based company interested in supporting an innovative, Ohio-born technology start-up while building a more diverse and sustainable supply chain, call us to schedule a product demo or email sales@ConnXus.com.