When New Roots Board member Jake Miller met KiZAN Technologies leader Nathan Fornwalt at a Louisville entrepreneur meet up in early 2017, they immediately began brainstorming ways to help one another. Jake was in search of the right company to help New Roots with IT needs and KiZAN was looking to get more involved in the community. It was a match made in the kale field!
KiZAN Technologies is a Louisville-based IT Company, or, as they describe themselves on their website, “a family of information technology Rock Stars.” KiZAN specializes in consulting services for organizations, companies, or any other entities that would like to see the technology they use better catered to their unique needs.
For New Roots, ‘unique needs’ is a phrase that gets tossed around so often that it’s beginning to lose some of its—how do we say—uniqueness. At the New Roots World Headquarters on Portland Avenue, efficient technology is not wanted, but needed. What most folks may not realize is that New Roots runs on Google Drive. From Spreadsheets to Docs, these Google applications have become invaluable. When not using Google Drive, New Roots staff can be found either trying to adjust their website design, or getting lost somewhere in the online ordering system.
Unfortunately, New Roots has grown too large and too different to run on off-the-shelf technology. This is where KiZAN Technologies has begun to help. This is where KiZAN Technologies comes in. Working pro bono during their weekends, KiZAN team members are attacking many of New Roots technology issues.
“I loved the idea of working with New Roots and thought it was a great way to give back to the community, while also getting some delicious, fresh vegetables,” said Justin Tindle, a senior consultant at KiZAN. “We always wanted to do more community service with organizations, but I think we just never found the right opportunity.”
Justin is one of those KiZAN members who has spent his Saturday mornings (at what they call “Hackathons”) laying out the framework for a new and improved online system that streamlines many of the tedious tasks New Roots staff currently deals with.
This new relationship was not one-sided, however. New Roots Administrative Coordinator, Sarah Dugan, who takes the brunt of the technology problems, had a good feeling about KiZAN from the moment she first visited their offices. “When we were on our way to their conference room we couldn’t resist checking on what sorts of snacks they had to offer. Granola and fresh fruit were featured in attractive baskets on the counter.” That would suffice for Sarah, who left that day feeling like New Roots’ and KiZAN’s values were already aligned. “Since then,” Sarah says, KiZAN has “been sucked into ‘the vortex’ of our movement in a meaningful way.”
Board member Scott Drake, Director of Technology at ScholarRx was, with Jake, a co-founder of this project, and has taken the lead for the New Roots' board.
The New Roots, especially Sarah, is excited about the future. “We could streamline communications between all roles at individual markets as well as system-wide. It opens up some really exciting possibilities. I always joke that a Hackathon with them feels like therapy,” Sarah says. “It’s just an amazing feeling when someone examines all the many moving parts of getting veggies into the hands of our shareholders, has the passion for social justice to want to help, AND the skills to make it happen. We are very lucky.” When asked if she loves KiZAN, Sarah responded appropriately, “from my head to-ma-toes!”