Whenever I talk to anyone about this business I’ve started, the question of ‘why?’ is unavoidable. And for good reason: starting a business is no small task, and not something I ever envisioned myself pursuing. The truth is, for me it wasn’t really a choice. After years of working with nonprofits as an overworked do-it-all ‘IT wizard,’ I knew there needed to be a better way.
I don’t mean in some ideal Star-Trekian world where money and time are no object. Here, in this world of noble causes with shoestring budgets, there must be another way of doing things, because the status quo wasn’t serving anyone well.
Nonprofits — particularly the small, plucky groups I’ve specialized in working with — are often used to working among tight-knit groups with common values and knowledge, and a singular uniting focus. IT’s just not like that. The expanse of everything that falls under the umbrella of ‘Technology’ is far too vast for anyone to pretend to know enough that they can expertly steer a nonprofit in the right direction for all things, from digital security to content management platforms to database infrastructures to truly anonymous communications to … you get the point.
In time I realized that despite my best efforts, I was doing a disservice to anyone I consented to play the all-in-one IT Jedi role for. What they really needed was a whole team of people like me, with disparate specializations covering the gamut of IT subjects but with the same uniting passion for helping people. One aspirational but soon-to-be-burnt-out do-it-all would be replaced by a team of specialists, contributing where and when necessary to fulfill the needs of any task or project. I knew the only way I could deliver this was by building my team outside of any one organization and make it available to all, for as much or as little time as they needed.
Some subjects — cybersecurity, for instance — are so important that you can’t make do with common knowledge: you need the best. But there’s another side to IT work — support work — and the unspoken truth is that for this kind of work, human social skills are just as vital as technical knowledge. You need to be good with people. A passion for helping people is essential, but beyond that you need patience, tact, and most importantly a fundamental respect for the intelligence of those you’re helping.
Those are skills readily in supply, particularly amongst the generations of ‘born-digital’ young people now entering the workforce and looking for their first foothold on a real career, not just a McJob. That was my reality less than five years ago, so I well know the mentality, and the ingenuity and eagerness to work they will bring to any job that challenges and warrants their attention.
It wasn’t hard for me to realize, then, that the way I could provide the best possible IT expertise to nonprofits with thread-bare budgets was to pair my team of passionate experts with an army of eager digital natives, those hungry for their first ‘real job’ paying fair living wages — and who’d love to also help people and make a difference along the way, if they can.
This is the business proposition, in its most basic form, that GoodTech is making to the nonprofit community we were born from. We’ll provide expert advice on the crucial matters from people with a profound interest in and commitment to the sector, and we’ll pair it with conscientious and courteous support work from enthusiastic techies earning fair living wages, invested in your success because GoodTech has invested in them: giving them the kind of ‘real job,’ with security and essential benefits, that has become far too rare in our society. That’s the dual mandate of GoodTech: we’ll do good for society while doing right by our employees.
That’s the better way I envisioned and knew had to be possible when I put myself on the path to founding this company. There were many easier paths I could have taken, but my experience convinced me this was the best possible option for everyone: for workers, society, and the nonprofit sector. It hasn’t been easy getting here, but it’s definitely been worth it. And we’re just getting started. The best, by far, is yet to come.