Learn about Cris’s background in hardware, how he got at Apple, before joining the Bixly team to be a part of a startup. Also, hear about his other passions like hiking and soccer!

Full Transcript:

Cris:

They will be very surprised at what they hear. So from the smallest age imaginable that I can remember, I was always around motherboards and CPU… That I never want to leave computers ever. Whereas me, it was hardware and tinkering and telling people what to do.

Alexandra:

Okay. Yep. Yep. That sounds about right.

Alexandra:

Hey Cris, so we’ve actually switched seats here today.

Cris:

We have.

Alexandra:

I know, it’s going to throw everything off. The universe is just going to be out of balance for the duration of this video. But today I’m actually interviewing you in our meet the team series, so that everybody who is interested in Bixly can get to know you a little bit better.

Cris:

That’s good. They will be very surprised at what they hear. Probably not.

Alexandra:

Yeah, I’m excited. So first question, of course, is tell us a little bit about your background, because I know you have a varied background before you ended up at Bixly. And then tell us a little bit about how you ended up working in tech.

Cris:

Sure. So for me, my journey to tech was not, I grew up coding or ripping computers apart or things of that sort, but I was around computers a lot because my dad actually owned a company that was like a computer vocational training school. So think, DeVry University kind of like office tech style degree or ITT tech or San Joaquin Valley College, if you’re here in the valley. And before anyone was doing that, he was literally teaching people how to do word processing and basically get used to having computers in a work environment.

Cris:

So from the smallest age imaginable that I can remember, I was always around motherboards and CPU’s and I was more on the mechanical side of actually building computers and getting comfortable with them. And then over time pivoted to just tinkering in general, always liked building stuff. And which then equated to, I like to just be in charge and tell people what to do.

Cris:

So, fast forward, years and years starting to get into my career. And I actually got a job with Starbucks, of all places, and started working up within management. And from there started taking more of a leadership role, of course, and realized I really liked coaching people, cooperative learning, all that kind of stuff and was found by someone from Apple that I served coffee to everyday. And they were like, “You know what? You’re very charismatic and you seem very knowledgeable. Would you want to come and work for us?”

Cris:

So I did a year at Apple and that helped me not only build out some of my sales side, but again, just continue to stay in tech in general. So learning about video development style stuff, different programs related to that, more computers, more fixing stuff. So on and so forth, to finally realizing that I never want to leave computers ever. I must always be within an arm’s reach of one. So, it’s a little different because when we think tech, specifically here at Bixly, we think more programming or graphic design or actually building of applications, whereas me, it was hardware and tinkering and telling people what to do.

Alexandra:

Yeah. Yeah. That sounds about right. So what’s your connection with Bixly and how did you transition from Apple over to Bixly?

Cris:

Sure. So around the time that I again had been working at Starbucks for years, I’d done video work before that, a million different things, but always in some way managing and staying connected with people and teaching, instructing. My brother-in-law actually is one of the co founding partners, majority founding partner of the company. And so he was like, “Hey, do you want to do this startup with me? We’re going to basically start building websites, focusing in Python.” And I had just got an opportunity to go work at Apple. And so I always joke with people, I said, “Well, do I want to work for Steve jobs or do I want to work for my brother-in-law who has an idea?”

Cris:

And I wrongly, not wrongly I absolutely loved them, but I chose Apple. And so I did that for the year, but my entire time over at Apple, I always kind of felt I wanted to do more of the startup boot strap, just almost grind-it-out style job. And so after about a year, I came and started working with Adam, did project management for us over here at Bixly and felt absolutely love with the company and knew that there was a bright future here for me because there was just so much to do and grow and cultivate within the company. And now it’s like 12 years later.

Alexandra:

Yeah. I think that’s a really good dynamic for people who are like choosing how they want to form their career because that’s often a pivot point between more larger established companies and then obviously the startup is that, even still with Bixly, we have the security of being in business for a decade, but you still have such an opportunity to contribute to what the shape of the company looks like. To build departments where your contribution really makes a difference in what the company is going to be like. And Apple has amazing opportunities obviously, but that doesn’t need to be stated, but like you don’t necessarily feel like the impact that you’re making is making a huge impact in the shape and the outcome of what that company looks like, just because it’s so huge and already well-established. And so that’s always really something I think, for people to think about, what do you really want? How much of an impact do you want to make and in the level and the design of the company. And that’s a really good thing to think about.

Cris:

Yeah. And it’s what pulled me over here. Because you’re right, there are immense opportunities and there were opportunities for me at Apple. I even was on the verge of choosing, do I relocate to Cupertino and take a different job within Apple or do I jump in and do the whole startup thing? And the idea of knowing that every decision that I made carried that much more weight to it, because it was at a startup level, was extremely exciting. And so for the good, the bad and the ugly, I have shaped Bixly to what it is today, which is exciting and also means we probably missed out on some things because of me.

Cris:

I come from more of a management and a sales background. And so because of that, It allows us as a company to have a extremely deep and strong bench of backend, front end developers, graphics designers, entirely robust dev-ops team, very technical people, and then have someone that is running the ship that’s… This sounds terrible, but say more of a layman or just more of the human human.

Cris:

Because people that are extremely technical, they sometimes think at a very technical level and the more relational side of business is harder to do. And if you have a CEO, not that you can’t be extremely technical as a CEO, but sometimes very technical CEOs that think in a technical mind space, it’s harder to relationally connect with people on more of a sales aspect and more just human aspect… That’s right devs at some level you’re not exactly human, you are robots, and we love that about you and don’t ever change.

Alexandra:

We know it.

Cris:

And we know it. It’s what literally brings the bacon home. Thank you. But I think for me, what I bring to the table is a bit of that, I keep saying human side and that sounds so terrible and degrading to, but that balance has been great.

Cris:

And that’s what you’re getting with Bixly. You’re getting a very well balanced team that knows how companies work and process and tick in the real world. And then can translate that into all the nuts and bolts technical stuff that you do not care about nor need to care about. And that’s why we’re so good at what we do and why we can work with so many different industries. Because we are fantastic, Bixly is fantastic in getting in there, assessing what it is that is just the little hangup, the snag, the thing that just bugs you and just tweak it and make it work through really thought through and well integrated systems.

Alexandra:

Excellent. So other than tech, tell us a little bit about what some of your other passions are, interests. A broader view of who is Christopher Venegas?

Cris:

I don’t do it as much anymore, which my waistline has shown this over the years, but I really enjoy backpacking, hiking, camping, like being outdoors is a lot of fun. Ironically enough, I’m sure I’m allergic to every sunscreen on the face of earth and the sun does not like me and I don’t like the sun. So maybe hiking somewhere like in mountains where it’s-

Alexandra:

In a cave.

Cris:

Raining or… Yeah. Or spelunking. Yeah. I’ve never done that, but that sounds exciting. I enjoy dirt biking. So motorcycle, dirt biking, off-roading stuff is super fun, sitting in silence. That’s a huge pass time-

Alexandra:

In a cave.

Cris:

In a cave is a huge pass time of mine if I can get that. I have four kids, so that’s not always possible to do, but I really enjoy that. And then I grew up playing soccer from like the youngest age. So I still try weekly to get out, go kick around a soccer ball, collide with some people, have fun.

Alexandra:

Take a cleat to the face.

Cris:

Yeah. Take a cleat to the face. And then my most recent is been VR, getting into virtual reality, shout out to Oculus, Facebook or for the Oculus quest two. I think for the first time, virtual reality is actually accessible for everybody and works really, really well.

Alexandra:

Yeah. That’s really great. Well, thank you so much, Cris, for joining us for this interview and letting the people get to know you a little bit better. It was really fun talking with you.

Cris:

Yeah. Thank you. I appreciate you having me on here. And yeah, I hope that I feel a little more human, not only to the people that are watching this, but even some of the fellow employees that maybe don’t get to always talk with me on the day to day.

Alexandra:

Yeah, absolutely. All right. Have a good one.

Cris:

Thanks.

Alexandra:

Thank you for joining us for this episode of Bixly tech Tuesday. I hope you enjoyed getting to know Cris a little bit better. I know he’s on all of these episodes, but hopefully you got to know him as a person a little bit better, and also got to see some of his vision for where to take Bixly. And don’t forget to check out the links down below in our description. You can find our custom software guide, which is completely free, and we’ll walk you through the journey of figuring out how to develop your own application. And on top of that, you can check out our website, Bixly.com. There’s even a button there where you can sign up for a free app validation meeting with Cris to talk about your app idea.

Originally published at https://blog.bixly.com on June 8, 2021.