This Technology Startup Is Pioneering The Non-Profit SectorBy Amanda Lewan on August 14th, 2014 /
It isn’t very often you find a duo of female tech entrepreneurs who shine so well they take on an entire sector. But the two ladies behind ardentCause are really extraordinary, and their company has grown to celebrate five years just this summer.
Chief Inspiration Officer Rosemary Bayer first thought of starting the company when she saw how underserved the non-profit sector was. Rosemary had met her now Chief Connections Officer Kathleen Norton-Schock while volunteering together to mentor for the Michigan Council of Women in Technology. The two had already fruitful careers in IT, so why jump ship to start a new company?
They knew they wanted to make a difference, and they knew non-profits needed the technology support.
When they first launched the company in 2009, the company was the very first company to file an L3C in Michigan. The low-profit limited liability company bridges the gap between non-profit and for-profit sectors, giving a format for social entrepreneurship to shine.
“We don’t know of anyone else like us in the Midwest. We were the first LC3, a for profit company with a nonprofit soul,” said Kathleen Norton-Schock.
Now the Ferndale based company celebrates their fifth year of serving non-profits with technology solutions. They’ve grown to 11 employees while serving large non-profits in the area including the United Way for Southeastern Michigan with their line of products and services. Most of their growth has come from working with clients who had greater technology needs then they realized.
“Here’s all of these foundations and government funding going into nonprofits, and nonprofits need to show how they are making a difference,” said Rosemary. “So we build our first product CauseEffectz to help show their impact. That’s still our flagship product.”
The product helps nonprofits analyze their data to show their impact. All of the platform solutions built by ardentCause are built in the cloud, are subscription based, and are easily adopted by the nonprofits they have worked with.
“We try to follow the principle of making it as easy as possible to do business with us,” said Kathleen. “This doesn’t just mean creating technology that’s easy to use, we also have a group of people dedicated to customer service for all of their clients.”
The Importance of a Clear Mision
Though the duo has had plenty of great clients and supporters, it doesn’t mean the past five years have been a breeze. Most entrepreneurs know the old saying, that a lot of new business don’t make it past the five year mark.
So what made it easier for these founders to get through the turning point? A strong mission that they could communicate to everyone helped greatly. It’s helped the two founders stick through the tough times, and also attract the right employees to hire.
“Sticking to the mission helps you get through the toughest times. You have to remember why you’re doing this,” said Rosemary. Rosemary said there were a couple times she feared they may close up shop, but thanks to great supporters and a strong mission they got through those bumps.
“The lonely CEO thing is real. You’re absolutely clinging on at times. Perseverance isn’t the right word; it’s too simple for something so intense. You just have to work you way back up and keep going.”