Kenny Rueter’s kids wanted him to build a water toy.
It was a Saturday in July at her West Irvine home – blue skies and warm, but not too hot. So he quickly agreed.
The father of three connected a PVC pipe to a garden hose and at the end of the day the kids were splashing and laughing. It was an unforgettable day.
It would also be an idea for Rueter to found one of the fastest growing private companies in America.
“I learned to build something that my children loved,” says Rueter. “As a parent, this is really valuable and I would like to pay for this information. At the time, however, there was no easy way to monetize knowledge transfer. That was my aha moment. “
Shortly thereafter, the local graduate launched Kajabi, an all-in-one platform for entrepreneurs to sell their expertise online.
That was in 2010.
Today, Kajabi’s 40,000 customers have sold nearly $ 2 billion – yes, $ 2 billion – through the online service.
The Irvine-based company has been included in Inc. Magazine’s Fastest Growing Private Companies for six years in a row, and in 2020 was named a Best Places to Work list.
An Irvine story
Rueter is an Irvine success story.
He attended courses in science and math at Venado Middle and Irvine High Schools.
After college, Rueter got a job at a blue-chip tech company. But something was missing.
“I’ve learned that it is difficult to control your fate in larger companies,” says Rueter.
Rueter’s entrepreneurial instinct shifted into gear and he started Kajabi.
He took a different approach than the founders of most tech companies. He resisted the temptation to keep looking for venture capital investments – what he called a “constant treadmill”.
Kajabi relied on monthly subscription income, which then grew … and grew.
Sales have increased by around 300% over the past three years. Despite the pandemic, the number of employees in Kajabi has grown by around 80% since March. Rueter plans more.
“We’re in growth mode right now,” he says.
Irvine as a tech hub
Rueter has watched the tech industry shift from more traditional hubs like Silicon Valley towards his hometown.
“We saw the shift in Kajabi,” he says. “Many of our employees were unhappy with the expensive, cramped experience of larger cities.”
Instead, they prefer Irvine’s village lifestyle – where parks, schools, and public safety attract talented workers.
“We’re hiring talent outside of a few big brands,” says Rueter. “Part of that is the culture and opportunities at Kajabi. It’s Irvine too and why we decided to find our headquarters here. “