From the Ground Up
COO of OnceLogix, Rod Brown, shares principles that have propelled their business into a leading tech enterprise. It is a huge accomplishment to make the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing private companies in America. To earn a place on that list five years in a row speaks to more than just accomplishment. It speaks to legacy.
Rod Brown took a trip down memory lane to share the late nights, cold calls, industry critics, and the years of sacrifice that were sown. In 2005, Rod Brown, Trinity Manning and Ty McLaughlin decided to keep their individual full-time jobs, while also growing OnceLogix on their own time before ever receiving a paycheck. Their goal was to build a sustainable company from the ground up without taking out loans.
OnceLogix was built on GRIT. It is that legacy that still fuels them today.
Ask anyone who knows Rod Brown and they will tell you he’s the type of leader that ignites a “We Will Win” attitude. He fills up a room with his faith, compassion, and determination. It was Brown’s grit that inspired a young Trinity Manning to become an entrepreneur almost 16 years ago. Manning was a recent graduate of Wake Forest University and worked in the IT department at Flow Automotive. Separately, Manning successfully developed an innovative digital platform, ShareNote, to organize and share important business documents. When ShareNote caught the attention of investors, Manning was faced with a big decision to sell his product, valued at $3M or keep it and start his own business. Manning’s pastor called in 11 business leaders from the church to provide sound counsel on the decision. Brown was one of the leaders in the room. When everyone else advised Manning to sell, Brown said, “If you can get 50 companies to buy your product, I wouldn’t sell. I’d swing for the fences.”
After that church meeting, Brown set up time for Manning to meet with his attorney. “I didn’t do it with an expectation to receive something in return.” Brown said. “I just saw an opportunity to help a friend succeed.” Shortly after that meeting, Manning called Brown to inform him that he decided to keep ShareNote. He then asked Brown to be his business partner. The two recruited Ty McLaughlin, another business leader in the community, and from there began the journey of entrepreneurship. Their founding story highlights one of Brown’s ultimate keys to success: “Sow for a living.”
Brown emphasized that it’s not the size of the seed that matters most. “Consistency is the biggest key. Sow every chance you get, even if it’s small. Sow in the lives of others, sow in your family, sow in your business. People see the accolades of OnceLogix, but they don’t see the seeds that were previously sown.” The principle of sowing is simple, but that doesn’t make it easy. Brown described the life of entrepreneurship as physically and mentally demanding. “If you don’t have a strong enough why, you will stop at some point,” Brown said. “My why is legacy, my family, my culture, and my community. We are three successful black men who didn’t come from money, never previously owned a business, didn’t have Stanford degrees, weren’t in Silicon Valley, didn’t have the pedigree in the tech industry, and never took on debt. The odds were stacked against us, but we still made it here and we are still building every day.”
In the midst of social outcry for racial justice, building legacy also means breaking down barriers for black business owners. To Brown, the Inc. 5000 ranking for the 5th year in a row means more than just a job well done.
“The mental trauma of slavery and systemic injustice has been catastrophic to our community, in my opinion. The recurring treatment of black people reinforces lies that tell us we’re not as good or that we can only be successful in a certain field. We were taught to keep our heads down, don’t strive for more, don’t look people in the eye, be compliant. All those messages are simply not true. If me and my co-founders can do this, anyone can do this. We can build companies that grow. We can employ hundreds and thousands of people and be great employers, and we can build multi-million dollar businesses.”
CPB Spotlight: OnceLogix | Written by Brooke Thomas | Sept 2nd, 2020