Chris Cardinal: Synapse Studios

October 20th 2020

In today's episode Kyle and Tyler talk with Chris Cardinal, one of the co-founders of Synapse Studios, a software development firm here in Tempe Arizona. Chris started Synapse with his business partner Bob seventeen years ago and he had a ton of wisdom to share with us. Our businesses have some distinct differences that you'll hear about during this episode but they have faced challenges over the years that Kyle and I resonate with and it was really cool to chat through those things with someone who is further along in the process of building a similar business to us.


Chris Cardinal, the co-founder of Synapse Studios, shares his experience starting a web application development agency in Arizona. He started the company at 18 years old with his business partner Bob, who was 22 years old at the time. They got their first clients by going door-to-door offering their web design services to local businesses. 

Today, Synapse Studios builds custom software for companies. They are located in Tempe, Arizona and have 46 employees working with them. Their team consists of project managers, coordinators, developers, QA engineers, and designers.

His thoughts around networking:

“I started grabbing lunch with literally anyone I could...This is a superpower. If you’re able to hold a conversation with someone. If you’re able to not be boring at lunch... If you’re able to grab lunch with people, listen to them, and identify and approach it as how could I be of service to this person?”

In one year, he went to 135 lunches. He found the best way to manage his lunch schedule was to use Calendly. Chris loves using it! The app allows you to send your schedule to someone for them to pick the day and time that works best for them. It removes the back-and-forth emails about schedules and gets you to your goal quicker: to meet as many people as you can. He says in the episode that 4 out of his 9 active clients right now are a result of lunch referrals. Showing there is true value in his strategy. 

How he explains his day-to-day:

“My job has transitioned fairly dramatically. I’m still the only business development person. I don’t have a sales team, it’s purely me. I’m usually talking to leads… A lot of my job has transitioned into culture and coaching. That caught me off guard, in a sense. I didn’t realize how much of my job was going to be that, but that’s actually way more fun for me. That’s the part of the job that I realized why I’m not going insane 17 years in.”

His opinion on company culture:

“Culture happens whether you make an effort or not. It is a gas. It will fill the vacuum - the space available. So if you’re not pumping gas into the room, somebody else is. It’s really important to drive that culture from the top down to make sure it’s continually being reinforced.”

Additional Notes:

Check out Synapse Studios:

Chris briefly mentions his friend Noah Barrasso’s web series, Martini Shot. You can watch more his videos here:

Officevibe, a weekly survey that is sent to your employees (all anonymous), is what Synapse Studios uses with his team:

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