Chris Frolic is a life-long entrepreneur, tech founder, corporate speaker and oh, there’s that little bit about being a giant of the rave scene in the 1990s. He has made his mark many times over as he trailblazed his own unconventional path.
Born in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Chris started his entrepreneurial journey at 12 years old with a paper route. He would use the money he earned to buy things that are important to kids, like a skateboard. Not satisfied with the paper route, he took initiative on a fateful day to wander into a video game store and ask for a job. The owners didn’t have need of a 12-year-old, to which Chris responded, “I’ll work for free.” They took Chris up on his offer, putting him to work building joysticks out of spare parts and testing VHS tape for defects. Chris would later parlay the free job into a barter arrangement for a new computer, then eventually an hourly wage.
Chris spent his teenage years working for that business as it expanded from its original store to eight more locations. After high school Chris was invited to move to Toronto, to work for the company’s head office as they began franchising the business. As a senior employee with more years working for the company than almost anyone else, Chris was tasked with writing the franchise operations manual. He then became their first franchise store trainer. At age 19 he was living out of a suitcase traveling from store to store across the country, teaching the new store owners – who were always at least double his age - how to run their new business.
The company experienced extreme growth and grew from 8 to 150 stores in just a couple of years. Chris yearned for more (and to get off the road), so he was given the title of Director of Research for the company to develop new business ideas and technology. Unfortunately, the company fell victim to having grown too fast and ran into financial difficulties. This gave Chris time to ponder his future with the company and where he should go from there. He made the decision to leave, not knowing what the future might hold.
It was during this time that Chris went to his first rave, in the golden era of underground parties, held in an abandoned warehouse in Toronto’s docklands. Chris fell in love with the music and culture, and was immediately intrigued by the enthusiasm and entrepreneurship he saw from the young people involved. From the promoters putting on the events, to the vendors inside selling smart drinks, mixtapes and clothing, everyone was contributing in their own way and Chris wanted to be a part of it.
Chris began to import vinyl records from UK labels to resell to Canadian and American DJs, and found himself at the forefront of an emerging style of music called “Happy Hardcore”. Chris developed his own DJ identity as “Anabolic Frolic” and made the leap to actually operating a business full-time, selling records and performing as a DJ. He was committed to doing whatever it took to be a success, part of which involved sleeping on the floor of his online record store for two years while he struggled to make ends meet.
During this time a call came in from one of the biggest American electronic music record labels, asking him if he’d be interested in producing and mixing a new album featuring this music. “Happy2bHardcore” would eventually have 7 volumes, and become the highest-selling electronic music series of its era with over 400,000 copies sold. As Anabolic Frolic, Chris would tour the world from the US to the UK, and as far away as Hong Kong and Australia.
Not satisfied with the record deal and being a DJ, Chris wanted to promote the music in more ways. This led him to create his own rave promotion company. “Hullabaloo!” (more affectionately referred to as “Hulla”) would become one of the best-known and inspirational rave promotion companies worldwide.
Chris operated Hullabaloo for 8 years with an unprecedented run of sold-out events, with one additional 10-year reunion party which sold out in 2 hours. Partiers came from as far away as Russia and Australia just to attend the event.
With the rave scene peak several years behind him, Chris decided once again it was time for a change rather than trying to chase after former glories or reliving nostalgia. He decided to make a lateral move to corporate speaking using comedy hypnosis. Not the wild jump it might seem, as in the end the business was about self-promotion, booking gigs and performing shows - all existing skills Chris was able to expertly apply. Chris found however that unlike as a DJ where he was primarily working on the weekends, he could perform corporate shows any day of the week, and often every day of the week. He also found his appearance fees in this new corporate world could double or triple those of his DJ work. Chris quickly ended up performing all over Canada as well as making tv appearances as a guest on talk shows across the country.
It was during this time that Chris made a fortuitous connection to a future business partner, Geoff Ronning. Geoff had become Chris’ teacher and mentor in corporate speaking, but it was during their conversations that a tech idea came forward. Geoff had an idea about using online video to present recorded webinars. Knowing Chris had a knack for building tech solutions, going back to his early e-commerce selling online records and online tickets for his events, as well as being an early internet radio streamer, he wondered if Chris might be able to build something.
Like many great co-founders before them, sometimes it takes a collaboration to pull off something remarkable, and change the world while you are at it.
Chris created a proof of concept for a new webinar delivery system in the summer of 2009, and by March 2010 Chris and Geoff launched StealthSeminar. They didn’t know what might happen with it, but they knew they had something that worked. Literally overnight, customers started to use it for their own businesses. StealthSeminar was a hit, and as of this writing has had over 20 million users and has generated just under 1 billion dollars for its customers.
It is extremely gratifying to Chris that he's been able to help countless other people succeed as they built their businesses around a product that ended up being the culmination of his life's work and experiences.
Today Chris resides in Toronto, with his wife of 20 years and love of his life, Robin, who happened to be one of his first DJ fans. They have 2 children, Gavin and Connor. For fun, Chris fulfilled his teenage dream of owning his own arcade.
The next chapter of Chris’ business life lies with investing in and mentoring the next generation, especially those with unconventional backgrounds and education. He’s excited to help the people like he was once: young entrepreneurs hungry to pursue their passions and make a difference.