Vincent Williams didn’t always want to be an entrepreneur.
The co-founder of Orchestrate Technologies, a local technology solutions company, started out as a political science major at the University of Kentucky unaware that he’d eventually take the plunge of starting his own business.
But he’s always known what his overall goal is.
“I always wanted to help people,” Williams said. “I didn’t necessarily know how that would look, but I’ve always been interested in solving people’s problems and making people’s lives easier.”
Despite that goal, making people’s lives easier hasn’t always been an easy task. As a minority worker and, eventually, entrepreneur, Williams said he’s faced plenty of adversity.
“There are always things you continue to struggle with that non-minority businesses don’t have to struggle with as much.” he said. “Access to opportunity, that’s a big one. Being in the position to capitalize on that opportunity is another one.”
In 2013, after working his way up through the technology industry as a systems administrator and a network engineer, he encountered a bump in the road that changed the course of his career.
He was working on a project that required him to migrate emails from an old server to a new one, and he found the task to be overly cumbersome. It was just the latest in a series of occurrences that frustrated Williams.
“Over the years, I was able to marry the ideas that, sure, we’ve got a lot of great solutions, but the reality is that most tech departments and teams weren’t translating those solutions well,” he said.
With his soon-to-be business partner Jonathan Bristow, Williams set out to found Orchestrate Tech with the goal of simplifying how businesses were able to interact with and leverage technology.
Since its creation in 2013, Orchestrate Tech has grown, with offices in six cities and a digital presence in 48 states and four countries.
Orchestrate Tech is also the region’s first managed services B corporation, a status that means it’s been officially recognized as a business that is legally required to consider the impact of its decisions on workers, customers, community and the environment. Williams said this is something of which he’s incredibly proud.
“We’re trying to do business the right way, for the right reasons,” he said. “Struggles or no, that’s something that’s a huge source of pride for me.”
Despite those struggles, throughout his journey in founding and operating Orchestrate Tech, Williams said he’s never lost sight of his initial motivation to help people.
“As minority entrepreneurs, we’re always rowing against the tide, but you get back what you put in,” Williams said. “Treating people the right way and doing things for the right reasons will lead to success.”
So when the new coronavirus spread across the country this year and when the protests sparked by the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor broke out, Williams saw and understood the impacts they’d have on minority-owned businesses.
“These things have been a bit more difficult for minority business owners in particular to address,” he said. “And they’re complicated issues that you just can’t narrow down to a soundbite, but they need to be talked about all the same.”
With the obstacles facing many small businesses in mind, Williams offered insight and advice for minority and non-minority entrepreneurs alike.
“Everyone’s path to success looks different,” he said. “It won’t look like what you see on TV or in Silicon Valley, especially now. It can twist and turn and sometimes go out of sight, but it won’t go away.”
The Enquirer is partnering with the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber on this Minority Business Spotlight series. This is the fifth of 12 stories that will appear on Cincinnati.com and The Enquirer. Videos and photos for the series were provided by Rooted Creative for the Cincinnati Minority Business Collaborative.