We are proud to announce we are now a Certified B Corporation

B Corporation Logo

Thanks to you, we have received a certification that enables us to put our stakeholder commitments at the forefront of our business goals. Our 18 years of service to community-based non-profits earned TNB 118 points out of 200 on our B Corp certification. The average median score was 80!  B Corporations are a new kind of company who use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. To maintain this status, we must continue to operate with top social and environmental performance, creating higher quality jobs and improving the quality of life in our communities. We will continue to use our B Corp status to continue to fulfill our mission to enable organizations to use innovative and effective tools to serve human needs.

Deborah Elizabeth Finn Joins Tech Networks of Boston to Provide Technical Advice and Strategy

A well-known independent consultant to the nonprofit community in the Greater Boston area, Deborah Elizabeth Finn joined Tech Networks of Boston (TNB) on April 1, 2013. As the Senior Technical Advisor and Strategist, Deborah will manage a selection of client engagements, and help nonprofits align their IT functions with their organizational missions.

Deborah’s role as an advisor at TNB will be critical in helping client organizations bring together resources and need seamlessly through strategic use of information and communication technologies.

“Deborah is a unique source of information, optimism, and connections for the nonprofit and technology communities. She has a wonderful capacity to understand technology and communicate empathetically with non-technical executives,” according to John Marchiony, Vice President of Client Engagement.

Deborah Elizabeth Finn Joins Tech Networks of Boston

As an independent consultant for the past decade, Deborah has worked with a diverse array of clients, including Community TechKnowledge, the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network, Health Care For All/Community Catalyst, Third Sector New England, the Boston Foundation, the Labor Guild, the Rhode Island Foundation, the Massachusetts Institute for a New Commonwealth, the Public Conversations Project, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, IDEAS Boston, and Perkins School for the Blind. Prior to that, she was TechFoundation”s national nonprofit liaison officer and director of the foundation”s Boston Tech Connect program.

Heavily involved in the nonprofit technology community in Boston, Deborah is a founding member of the Information Systems Forum, the Ethos Roundtable, Mission-Based Massachusetts, and the Boston Technobabes.

Deborah joins Michael Fenter, Vice President of Technical Services; David Gleason, Vice President of Strategic Solutions; and John Marchiony, Vice President of Client Engagement, as part of the expansion of TNB’s executive team. This executive team build out is part of TNB’s commitment to provide people-centric IT care services to its customers.

New Executives Reinforce Tech Networks of Boston’s Commitment to People-Centric IT Care

Tech Networks of Boston (TNB) today announced the arrival of three new executive team members as part of its commitment to provide people-centric IT care services to its customers. Michael Fenter and David Gleason started with TNB this month, joining John Marchiony, who arrived in November, 2012.

The team at TNB adopted the mantra of “We’re Better Together” in 2010 with the launch of the company’s collaborative technology management initiative. Susan Labandibar, President and Chief Mission Officer, sees the expansion of the executive team as an important milestone in TNB’s evolution. “David, John and Michael will help prioritize the people element of our technology solution. All three are highly committed to caring for our clients, our colleagues and members of our communities.”

Michael Fenter, a 14-year veteran of a national managed IT services firm, joins TNB as Vice President of Technical Services. Fenter will harness his IT service and management experience to allow TNB’s clients to experience a mature information technology function that serves human needs.

As Vice President of Strategic Solutions, David Gleason will provide technical leadership and direction to help organizations discover and deploy effective solutions that help further organizational missions and goals. David has 30 years of consulting experience in the IT field, the last 8 of which have been in CTO and interim CIO roles for major nonprofit organizations.

John Marchiony, Vice President of Client Engagement, aims to ensure that people at all levels of the client organization feel empowered to learn, manage information, and communicate easily in a safe and supportive computing environment. Marchiony has contributed to the success of organizations like the Liberty Science Center, The Computer Museum, WGBH, and the United States Olympic Committee Paralympic Division.

A Celebration of Women-led Businesses

The Boston Business Journal (BBJ) and the National Women’s Business Council report that women-led businesses account for approximately 7.7 million jobs nationwide and slightly more than $1.2 trillion in annual revenue, contributing roughly 12 percent of U.S. gross domestic product.

Annually, the BBJ recognizes the local women-led companies that contribute to the regional economy and provide the engine for growth and prosperity that enhances the lives of New Englanders. On Thursday, December 6, in partnership with The Commonwealth Institute (TCI), the BBJ celebrated and profiled “100 incredibly talented female executives and their companies who together set the standards for entrepreneurial success.”

Tech Networks if a Top 100 Women-led Business

Nearly 500 local business leaders attended the celebratory event. Susan Labandibar, founder of Tech Networks of Boston, which was named a Top 100 Woman-led Business, attended the event. Roxbury Technology Corporation, a Tech Networks client, and its CEO Elizabeth Williams were also recognized.

New research from Dow Jones entitled “Women at the Wheel,” reports that businesses with women senior executives “have a greater chance of either going public, operating profitably or being sold for more money.” Furthermore, “for start-ups with five or more female senior executives, 61% were successful.” For venture-backed companies, “a company’s odds of success increase with female executives at the VP and director levels. With every 10% increase in female executives at the VP level, the odds of success increase by 6%; for every 10% increase in female executives at the director level the odds of success increase by 3.3%.”

Know a Great Techie? We’re Hiring!

Have a friend who would make a great Boston Techie?  Tech Networks of Boston is hiring!  Currently we’re looking for a Help Desk Technician; we’re always interested in talking to great engineers at all levels. For more information, visit techboston.com/opportunities.php to browse through the available jobs.  Anyone interested in working at TNB should send a résumé and cover letter to jobs@techboston.com.  We look forward to hearing from you!

Click here to read this month’s full Boston Techie.

Boston Globe Article

Tech Networks of Boston, South Boston

In 1995, Susan Labandibar, president of Tech Networks of Boston, decided to locate her company in South Boston’s Andrew Square almost by accident. She had started out of her home, selling used computers to college students in Boston. As the business grew, she began looking for a storefront.
“We went to every stop on the Red Line looking for space until we got to Andrew, and, lo and behold, we found a place across the street from the station,’’ she recalled.
In the 15 years that followed, Tech Networks moved to a larger space, also near Andrew Square. The company also changed its business model; instead of selling to students, it now installs and manages computer systems for small and medium-size businesses.
The company, which has 28 employees, made the Inner City 100 with annual revenue of $3.3 million and an average growth rate of 25 percent over five years.
The Andrew Square location — near where South Boston, Dorchester, and Roxbury converge — still works for the company, according to Labandibar.
“With the recession and the maturing of our industry, we need to be competitive,’’ she said. “Being in the inner city, we not only have inexpensive office space, but access to transportation.’’

Spirituality in Business Conference

The Sustainable Business Network’s annual Symposium on Spirituality in Business will be held at Babson College at the end of March. Two dynamic and thoughtful business leaders, Glynn Lloyd and Rob Everts, will join me on a panel to discuss how we, as social entrepreneurs, can follow the Gandhian path of Satyagraha by acting in accordance with our core values and by using non-violent resistance as a tool for changing the world. All of us have developed a unique code of conduct and a moral philosophy on which our businesses stand. One difference, however, between my business and those of the other two panelists is that, as an outsourced information technology services provider, we were not founded with a social purpose. Our evolution towards social enterprise has taken over 14 years. And we are still far from the goal. So, the question is:  As an atheist and an accidental entrepreneur, what can I contribute to the dialogue?

As it turns out, I do have some thoughts to share about how my business contributes to the community and how we can become sustainable despite an economic system dependent on unlimited growth. But these ideas have evolved over time. I had no such social purpose in mind when I first started selling used computers to college students almost 15 years ago.

To be sure, I dreamed of being a community leader. Just before I moved back to Boston and started my business, I had spent the last few years in France. I had worked on an organic farm, bicycled and hitchhiked all over the country, lived in an eco-village, and had spent three weeks on an anti-nuclear cross-country protest march. One of my proudest moments was leading a busload of eco-villagers to a protest in the mountains. The goal was to stop the construction of a Euro-tunnel that would bring traffic and pollution to yet another rural mountain community, and deprive the last few remaining Pyreenees bears of their habitat.

Unsurprisingly, when I returned to Boston, I had a counter-culture mindset. I wasn’t about to go back to working for temp agencies in downtown office buildings At a loss for what to do, I read Earning Money without a Job by Jay Conrad Levinson.

Despite the carefree cover drawing of the hippie in a hammock pulling dollars from a money tree, a lot of people like me used this book to create their own 60 to 80-hour a week job. That’s how I started my business.  Like many risk-takers, I loved the rough and tumble.  My days were filled with used computer suppliers who bribed their way into bankrupt companies; cash sales in housing projects all over Boston; being held at gunpoint when I tried to repossess a computer.  It was hard to see myself as a community leader back then!

But my self-image and my vision for the company were about to undergo two major transformations.  Each of these epiphanies derived from my association with a organization  focused on small business as a medium for changing the world:  The Inner City Entrepreneur program (ICE) and the Sustainable Business Network (SBN.) Let me set the stage for the first transformation. After seven years of hard scrabble computer sales and service, we had achieved some measure of success.  Behind the storefront in Andrew Square, we were building new computers for businesses, non-profits, and schools.  And we were programming servers and installing computer networks.  This work put me in contact with the business community.

At a South Boston Chamber of Commerce meeting, I met Andrew Wolk and Dan Monti, both faculty members of Boston University. They were starting a non-profit called Inner City Entrepreneurs. They were recruiting established local businesses to participate in the Streetwise MBA program. The goal was to increase economic activity in blighted areas and to create jobs by growing established local businesses. These professors saw business owners like me as movers and changers in the urban landscape. Dan had done some research to show that, as a group, local business owners were far more community-minded than anyone had given them credit for. To them, I was a potential community leader. This was news to me. Honestly, at that time I was simply preoccupied with business survival — as I had been for the last seven years.

Nine months later, I had received my Streetwise MBA. By that time, I was convinced that I had a real business with real responsibilities. I had employees who depended on me for their livelihood. I had a business that was an asset to our community. And my business was generating real money, that I could give to the causes about which I care deeply, such as preserving our environment, and compassionate action for animals.

Now I was ready for transformation number two. This time, I deliberately searched for a peer group who could help me to deepen my thought leadership skills. My first Sustainable Business Network event was a small meeting held at the Mathworks, in Natick. I have forgotten the name of the speaker. He had tried–and failed–to start a fair trade chocolate business in the Amazon jungle. His goal was to create the entire supply chain, from cocoa bean to finished product. It was a spectacular story full of adventure and reckless optimism. I was hooked.

I soon joined the SBN board. Now I was an active participant in a group that sought to transform the world through business.


I must be dreaming

No, seriously. That’s how I was feeling last Thursday when I attended the SBN Annual Conference at the Hampshire House. What a beautiful venue! It was set up like a Victorian library with antique books lining the built-in bookshelves and squat little vases filled with roses scattered artfully around the room. But, I digress.

As I mentioned, it was a dreamlike atmosphere for me. So many of my ideas for SBN had come to fruition. From changing our name, to the Boston Green Business Awards, to the Sustainable Business Leaders Program… It had all happened in just 18 months.

And we’ve gone from a sleepy little non-profit with a $10,000 annual budget to a staff of 4! As Laury Hammel would say: “Rock on!”