This is a testimonial to the power of the Impact Makers’ model. At the B Corp Champions Retreat in October 2011, Rodney Willett and Michael Pirron met the founders of Ingage Partners, a management and technology consulting company based in Cincinnati, Ohio, that modeled their company after Impact Makers. Ingage Partners’ CEO Kelly Dolan and Michael President Kroeger tell their company’s origin story in this letter. Rodney shares his account of the surprising and inspiring meeting below.
Imitation Really Is the Most Sincerest Form of Flattery
Rodney Willett, Impact Makers, Vice President of Business Strategy
B Corp Champions Retreat, Philadelphia, October 25-27, 2011
ImpactMakers is a management and technology consulting company based in Richmond, Virginia. We are a founding B Corp member with a unique business model: we are a for profit corporation with no shareholders and we give away our profits to charitable organizations in our community.
Our CEO, Michael Pirron, founded Impact Makers in 2006 and is a B Corp meeting regular. This was my first B Corp event, having joined Impact Makers in February of 2011 to do business development for the company. My first impression of the conference came as I entered the beautiful Longwood Gardens facility and Jay Coen Gilbert greeted me while carefully balancing a tray of drinks. I then received an introductory handshake from Kelly Dolan of Ingage Partners out of Cincinnati, Ohio. Kelly saw my name and then, upon seeing the name of company, she almost gasped “You are with Impact Makers – you are the company that we modeled our company after!”
With an introduction like that, it was difficult for me to spit out follow up questions fast enough. I did manage to keep my social wits about me and introduced myself to Kelly’s partner, Michael Kroeger. They then proceeded to tell the story of their creation of Ingage Partners. Kelly explained “Michael and I were having a professional ‘mid-life crisis’ so to speak. While working for the same, regional IT and management consulting company, we found ourselves on independent journeys to find a way to blend our professional lives with our desire to truly impact our communities. The Impact Makers B Corporation models inspired us to join together and take the leap of faith to embark on a journey to change the world.”
As Kelly and Michael then told me that they were using a significant portion of their revenues to support several charities and charitable events in the Cincinnati area, I realized that they were describing what could only be called our sibling company – had we been separated at birth? The similarities, including the upsides and downsides to running a small consulting company that competes with much larger companies was all too familiar. And, as another important part of their imitation and execution of our model, Ingage became a B Corporation as soon as they were eligible to apply.
After grabbing my 15th mini crab cake from one of the passed trays at the reception, I hailed my colleague Michael to join our group. I had the pleasure of springing the incredible Ingage story on him and watching his reaction – no glassware hit the floor but Michael’s jaw did drop. His appreciation for what Ingage had done highlighted how special this B Corp event moment was for him “You just made this conference for me. You made my week. You made my year.”