Women Business Owners Series: Katelyn Montgomery, Founder and President of Worldgate, LLC
For this month’s installment of our Women Business Owners Series, we sat down with Katelyn Montgomery, Founder and President of Worldgate, LLC. Read on to learn more about why she founded her company, their organizational commitment to giving back and her advice to women who are thinking of starting their own businesses.
TorchLight: What prompted you to start Worldgate, an IT consulting company, after a successful career in corporate marketing?
Katelyn: I was enticed by my husband! I never thought I’d work outside the marketing space in fact. He was in IT consulting and finally convinced me that we should launch the company. At first, we had one small project and I was able to consult to earn revenue and fund future growth.
At the same time, I focused on building up processes that would align with the sector we were intending to serve. Fast forward and the business grew to the point where I was able to remove myself from the consulting work and focus on the day-to-day of the business itself.
TorchLight: Worldgate has a range of practice areas. Can you tell us more about the types of services you offer?
Katelyn: Our sweet spot is K12 technology consulting. We don’t develop software, but we do create teams of consultants who serve on-site at client locations and help with a variety of project-level services. These include managing whole technology implementations, business analysis, production support and resource staffing. We often refer to our capabilities aligning to the business side of IT.
In addition, we have an implementation practice in partnership with a company called UKG. As part of this arrangement, we provide implementation services for time tracking systems at a school district level. We also offer leadership coaching to our clients. This can be especially valuable for newer managers to help them learn how to effectively oversee and communicate technology investments and outcomes.
TorchLight: Client service is clearly a core part of your business. How do you ensure that clients receive top-notch service and are satisfied with your solutions?
Katelyn: We try to be as flexible and responsive as possible to clients—we say we offer “white glove” service and we truly do. If a client has a gap or need, we shift up our services to help them solve it. An example of our willingness and ability to flex our services happened during COVID. The phone rang in August 2020 and a school district needed a complete help desk/tech support function to support families who would be at home with virtual learning.
We helped roll out Chromebooks and learned how to teach families how to access learning platforms from there. We had never done this before, but we quickly put together a remote hotline staffed by out-of-work (because of the pandemic) Broadway actors! This was a solution no one could see coming that benefited both school leadership, parents, students and the economy of out-of-work-actors.
An equally important part of ensuring that we offer top-notch service is making sure our employees are happy and engaged. Happy employees do great work. We offer many stipends and perks that recognize employees embracing our culture, going above and beyond and supporting their communities.
TorchLight: Speaking of employee engagement, how do you make sure all your employees – including those placed in client locations – are engaged and feel valued?
Katelyn: We continually look for ways to help employees who are on-site with clients feel connected to our culture and valued as people. Examples include virtual coffee chats and monthly educational webinars on different topics like wellness/mental health, finance and others. I also hold team meetings in different client locations featuring employee awards and other recognition.
TorchLight: Worldgate is obviously a mission-driven company – the commitment to giving back to the community is very clear. How does social responsibility factor into your business?
From the beginning, we have given back to the community, starting with kids at a local elementary school. Every Thursday, team members helped deliver bags to kids with food and supplies for the weekend. Then we kept adding to it and now give our team members PTO for volunteer activities to make it easier for them to give back. We also offer them a gift card each year that they can donate to the charity or cause of their choice.
We have been thrilled with the outpouring of support this has offered many mission-based programs that are making a difference. It’s really rewarding to see our employees give to their causes while enlightening us indirectly on all that is going on in the world.
TorchLight: Let’s talk about diversity – it seems like an important organizational commitment for Worldgate. In what ways are you ensuring that diversity is a part of your company?
Katelyn: Like many companies, we have required diversity training on a range of topics like unconscious bias and microaggressions. I encourage employees to be very open about their views on diversity issues and current events like what happened to George Floyd and am available to talk about any personal or general concerns they have.
We’re committed to bringing different perspectives to the table and recently had a speaker from an industry group I belong to talk about what it is like to be a Black female CEO. The primary takeaway for me from this firsthand education was that we all need to do better listening without judgement.
TorchLight: What is your favorite part of being an entrepreneur? What’s the most challenging part?
Katelyn: My favorite part is when employees feel like we’re doing a good job and they feel like we value them. I want to create a place where people want to be. I love the give back opportunities most of all.
The most challenging part is risk–it can be scary, and a lot can go wrong.
TorchLight: What advice do you have for women who are thinking about starting their own businesses?
Katelyn: If you are going to start a business, make sure you have a plan and that you are very passionate about it. If the passion isn’t there, it’s a hard thing to do. It’s also very important to align with good people, partners and employees who you can rely on and who will support you. This includes mentors and other entrepreneurs who can help elevate you.
TorchLight: What are your plans for Worldgate in the future?
Katelyn: We’re focused on growing our current practices and plan to expand to more school districts. We want to be out there more and do more good work which allows us to further our clients’ mission and our own – we value our communities and the opportunities we have to give back and create a better world.
To learn more about Worldgate, click here.