We put our heads down and worked to solve a problem.
We didn’t take time to document our story or progress until now.
We’ll continue to add both our past and present adventures.
This is truly a boundlessly connected story.
Christina Lopez is an entrepreneur with extensive experience in the sports industry. She’s has participated in sports as an athlete, parent, coach, and official in team and individual sports at the local, collegiate, national, and international levels. Her people focused, sustainable… Read more >>
Mike Marvin has over 45 years’ experience in multiple industries including manufacturing, education, and technology. He’s committed to maintaining diverse environments by removing barriers and focusing on the strengths of every person he meets. His real time, continuous feedback loop… Read more >>
Boundless Connections, LLC started as an IT consulting and training company in 2009. Teaching local continuing education workshops, it became obvious this was the least efficient way to increase workforce tech literacy.
In 2012, the co-chair of the economic development committee of WNY declared the need to develop and retain tech talent. The founders decided to combine their experience to establish a tech talent pipeline.
TECH Unleashed 1.0 set the tone for everything else – becoming the cornerstone program for a diverse, locally connected pipeline of tech talent. It started with a summer camp for 12 teens (11 boys and 1 girl) who self-identified as wanting to have a tech career. This ambitious group of teens motivated us to create a tech center for the entire community… one for all ages, all interests, and all abilities.
The sports industry has the best talent pipeline.
We built the Boundless Connections pipeline programs based on the same infrastructure as the sports industry. Most people using our tech centers will not end up in the tech industry however, developing their tech literacy will help them in any career they choose to pursue.
By casting a wide net, we find tech talent where others overlook it, providing a constant resource for their next step as they progress.
Our first technology Center opened in 2017 with 2,500 square feet in Olean, New York. This small, conservative town with a manufacturing history largely rejected the technology that “took all the jobs.”
The TECH Unleashed participants helped us tear out the walls and carpets, painting walls, and installing the security cameras.
By 2018, we needed more space and moved down the street to its current location with 5,000 square feet.
With the TECH Unleashed program in our pilot capped out around 40 and the new TECH Launch program for 17 and over funded by NYS DDPC, we had enough profit to consider expansion to other locations. The big question: would this work in larger, more liberal cities who already embrace technology and have plenty of options.
We hired a consultant to help us explore our expansion options who sent an email to 5 cities within driving distance of the pilot location to gauge interest. Rochester. NY and Scranton, PA were the first to respond. As we explored options in both cities, we decided our second location would be Rochester, NY since we already had some contacts there.
A couple of our TECH Unleashed/Launch alumni were attending RIT and were eager to help facilitate the programs while attending college.
We signed a letter of intent for 3200 square feet on the second floor of the newly renovated Sibley Square Building downtown Rochester, NY at the tail end of 2019 for an open date of March 2020. We’d met hundreds of people and had already hired our first employee in Rochester to help with outreach.
After renovations, furniture, and equipment were in place, we awaited our certificate of occupancy. The world had other plans and we had a mandatory shutdown. It was only supposed to be a few weeks, but as month after month passed with no income and the rent still due, we had to decide if we were going to close or how to open in August of 2020.
Since tech literacy was becoming a main focus, we decided to open for 3 months with the goal of figuring out if we could get enough business to justify staying open beyond the new year.
Having two locations with the second location costing 10 times more than the pilot meant we could no longer bootstrap as our time would need to be spent running the business. 2021 was the first year we did not use any bootstrapped contracts… a big indicator that we have a viable business.
The end of 2020 was a slow start since many did not want to go to public spaces for non-essential events. We had 1/10 of what we expected to be able to do in a city the size of Rochester but our percentage of people who visited/engaged and the diversity numbers were similar to the results in our pilot location. We now had proof the pipeline works in both small, conservative towns, and larger, more liberal cities.
In 2021, with tech literacy at the forefront of workforce development, we put together an advisory board to help us find investors to increase our impact in Rochester and expand to multiple cities. While many found our business compelling, they all wanted to see more traction before investing.
After some research into which minority women get investment of more than $250k (no one without an ivy league degree), we decided to focus on getting more traction through B2B relationships.
We’re still standing… yeah, yeah, yeah! ♪♫
First a salute to all the other small businesses who are navigating this unpredictable world and making it happen.
We are now ready to pursue our business to business outreach strategy. Every business would do better with a tech literate workforce. That’s where our corporate retreats, employee benefit memberships, and sponsor opportunities can help.