Founders: Tiffaney Florentine and Kara Albert
Company Description: Trodo is a health and wellness company that is creating functional fitness communities through corporate wellness programs, youth programs and league events.
Company Site: trodo.org, Facebook, Twitter
Date of Interview: November 2014
Tiffaney Florentine is a military vet, an American Gladiator contender, a CrossFitter and a certified personal trainer. She has an MBA from The Ohio State University, and has worked for the CIA, Deloitte, Ernst and Young and Gallup. She has mean chops on the athletic field and in the corporate meeting room; and she’s smashing it all together to create and scale functional fitness communities that are accessible, emotionally engaging and life-changing.
On the evolution of an idea:
While working at Deloitte, Tiffaney tried out and was accepted to be on American Gladiator. “As the show aired, people started coming up to me (asking about fitness). I had 10 times the influence that I had before. TV is a scary thing!
“People started asking me about what to eat and how to workout. I found myself at the center of their life change. This was a turning point. I thought – how do I drive health and wellness behavior change in a way that is scalable?”
With all this in mind, Tiffaney went back to school, got a personal training certification and started working in healthcare consulting at Ernst and Young. She learned that corporate wellness programs were only focused on health risk assessments, biometric screenings and chronic disease management. versus emotionally engaging people to change physical inactivity.
Then, while working at Gallup, she discovered CrossFit. “At Gallup, we quantified human behavior and studied the most emotionally engaged customers. We’d identify the drivers of engagement and replicate them across the customer base. I was fascinated by the intense emotional engagement of CrossFitters and thought, ‘We can study this, learn from it, and change the world by scaling the experience. This is the way to reverse the epidemic of obesity and physical inactivity.’ And that’s the path that led us here.”
On starting and expanding:
The first segment of the business she stood up was the Trodo Box League (“box” is lingo for gym) – a series of ongoing events for local CrossFit affiliates focusing on community and including events for all fitness levels. “The league is the foundation that brings our brand to life and has allowed us to develop partnerships and expertise in this space. The end game is reversing the epidemic of physical inactivity and this is the framework to get there. Now we’re working fast and furious to expand into the workplace and youth environment to meet people where they are emotionally and financially.”
Though the Trodo Box League members are all currently Crossfit affiliates and Tiffaney works out at CrossFit gyms herself, she says they are not a CrossFit company or affiliated with CrossFit in any way. “We are our own brand. We pride ourselves on being emotionally accessible to everyone. We study CrossFit because people are emotionally engaged. Members attend an average of 3.75 times per week and they’re seeing incredible results, whereas traditional gyms see fewer than 1 time per week and attendance and results are not key industry metrics.”
“Getting people to move is all about emotional engagement, not rational incentives. 70% of human decision-making is emotional. We must tend to peoples’ emotional needs to truly change lives.”
Tiffaney is all about the mission. She believes it is the core of everything that she does and every decision she makes for Trodo. “I had a mentor that told me the most important thing is to have the clearest mission imaginable and everything should revolve around that mission.”
“The team (of Trodo Box League volunteers that help run the events) just oozes the mission. They are so aligned with the mission and they come out to support it. That’s powerful. They are supporting something that’s bigger than me.”
“There’s nothing that makes me happier in this world than giving people the opportunity to do something they’re passionate about and to change the lives of others. It’s amazing to see people rally behind a cause that was just an idea a year and half ago.”
“When we get a meeting with a corporation, the majority of the time companies say they want to decrease healthcare cost and increase productivity. We’re saying we want to make people better.”
On having her spouse as her co-founder:
Kara Albert is Tiffaney’s co-founder. She is also her wife and she previously worked at Gallup with her before taking the plunge full-time into Trodo with Tiffaney. “Kara is incredibly talented. I feel that people often start businesses with their partners out of convenience, not because it’s the right talent. Kara is the perfect partner – hands down. She truly has the mind of a strong entrepreneur. She’s incredibly resourceful and can select, inspire and equip the best talent to bring the Trodo mission and strategy to life. Talent-wise we compliment each other really well.
“Of course work/life balance is a struggle and even more challenging because we’re in the same work environment, and then there’s the stress of personal cash flow. Communication gets us through it. We love what we do and we’re truly chasing our dream to change the world…together.”
On the transition from corporate to startup:
“I’ve never been around any entrepreneurs. I thought about entrepreneurship in grad school but was a too chicken to pursue it at the time. I’ve always supported myself, so I’ve always had a little bit of fear of not having a backup plan. It didn’t really come to me as a viable option until I was at Gallup. I was in an extremely entrepreneurial role that built my confidence to finally take the plunge. I didn’t know what to expect. I just did it. I knew that I had been through tougher times in life. I trusted that I could be humble enough to ask others for help, to find the right resources and people, and to pull the plug if things weren’t working out.”
“If you see a market opportunity and you’re certain you have the resources and experience to bring it to life and change the world, you really have no choice but to give it your all and to see the idea through.”
So what does “Trodo” mean anyways? “Trodo means vulnerability and it’s all about people putting themselves out there to be vulnerable, to get better as a community.” Trodo Box League currently has 26 participating boxes, 75 volunteers, a reach of ~4400 athletes, and is expanding to build structured, emotionally engaging programs in the workplace and youth environments.