“Without Chicago, there would be no Orbit.” At Orbit Media, this web design and development team is all about focusing on results for their clients. Co-founders Andy Crestodina and Barrett Lombardo are also deeply committed to the city of Chicago and its community, going the extra mile to help create Chicago Cause, a philanthropic partnership between several other Chicago businesses. Read on to find out more about Andy and Barrett and their Chicago, IL-based B Corp.
The story behind Orbit Media: “Barrett and I are friends from high school and roommates from college. We always wanted to make things together. We started with pencils and pens making comic books in college. Then after college (mid ‘90s) we started making interactive comics online and on CD-ROM. These were passion projects we worked on at night. I was a recruiter by day and Barrett was already building websites at a small agency. By January of 2000, we had both quit our jobs and we were working together building websites. We were broke, but it was a super fun time. All we wanted to do was combine creativity and technology, art and science.
By April of 2001, we’d already made some good mistakes and learned some key lessons. We formed Orbit Media Studios, reusing the name of our little failed comic book company. I was the designer and he was the programmer. We were tiny, poor, and happy. We didn’t really have a plan. There wasn’t a vision. We just wanted to make things, to learn, and to help people. We both have strong service ethics. Everything grew organically from that. Doing good work for people we liked. Gradually, we added to the team. Gradually, we built our network. Gradually, we got a little smarter and a little better at what we do.
Orbit is like a tree. It’s strong because it’s been here a long time and we’ve nurtured it with good decisions. People and process, sunlight and water. We just keep going, doing what we believe is right for our people and our clients. ”
How a B Corp allows us to be the best of ourselves (and business): “Being a B Corp gives you a compass. Every business makes a dozen little decisions every day. It’s the combination of these decisions that gives you a direction.
Every B Corp has planted a flag, declared an allegiance to a set of values, made a commitment to certain ideals. Knowing this helps you make the right choices in those little decisions day-to-day. Do we offer paternity leave? …Well, we are a B Corp. Do we buy cheap plastic holiday gifts? …Well, we are a B Corp. You get the idea.
I hear someone remind someone else of our B Corp status at least once a week. And those little comments, that little compass, pulls us in a direction that we all need to go. It’s a reminder of the higher ideals. The ideal that business can be sustainable and a positive force for change. I love that.”
The success stories we’re most proud of: “Our greatest success has been in knowing our limits and finding help when need it. The best example is our leadership. Barrett and I have no special management skills. But we do have a sense of humility. So when it became obvious that we don’t really know how to run a complicated, multi-million dollar company, we hired an executive.
Enter Todd. Todd reorganized the company, created a team of managers, built the sales team and steered us away from a hundred bad ideas and doomed plans. Todd made us a sustainable company on the business side. From sales to service, process to product, we are built to last.
This required zero sacrifice against our personal and professional values. Todd is exactly aligned with our sense of community, environment, transparency. In fact, he’s enhanced our ability to be true to these, because we never need to compromise for a paycheck. Because we have a solid business foundation, we can choose who we want to work with and why. We never compromise our values.
I’m also proud of Chicago Cause. Over the last 6 years, we’ve donated $265,000 in services to Chicago nonprofits. It’s an honor to be a charter member of this program.”
What Orbit Media does to “B The Change” daily: “Work-life balance here is not optional. We track time carefully and with a few rare and temporary exceptions, we are all able to set our work down every day and spend time with our families. We take time off, pursue personal goals and have a little fun. We know where to draw the line.
We also know where the line should be blurred. As a team, we play together. A lot! There’s a get together, a happy hour, a taco day almost every week. And beyond our little company events, there are many true and deep friendships between members f the team. I’m very proud to know that people here often vacation together.
You can’t create a great culture. That’s a myth. But you can find great people to work with and get out of their way. Culture is the combined attitude and outlook of every single member of the team. Everyone makes it together. No one is excepted.”
If you want to become a B Corp… “Jump in! The water’s fine. It will take time to go through the process. Be patient. That process is part of the purpose. It will start you thinking about what policies and practices align with our values. Invest the time, make the changes, and check the boxes. It’s work but it’s all you need to do.
Then, reach out to your local B Corps and connect. You’re about to make some valuable new professional connections. Don’t be surprised if the conversations lead to new insights and even quality introductions. This is a network of people with strong, value-based affinities. We are committed to the success of the network and helping each other. We’ve gotten business from this network.”
Thinking about B Corporations in the long run: “[The movement] will continue to grow slowly in many places, in many industries and in meaningful ways. It’s totally common to hear “Hey, you’re a B Corp! I’ve heard about this…” It’s more important than ever to think about the big picture and the long term . The B Corp community is a hub for those values. It’s a small but powerful movement and a growing tribe of like-minded capitalists.”
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About Andy Crestodina & Barrett Lombardo, Co-Founders of Orbit Media
Andy Crestodina is the co-founder and CMO of Orbit Media. He’s an international top-rated keynote speaker and the author of Content Chemistry: An Illustrated Guide to Content Marketing. You can find Andy on LinkedIn and Twitter.
Barrett Lombardo is the Co-Founder and COO at Orbit Media Studios. Barrett has been developing websites since 1995. He manages the creation of products and services that Orbit offers to meet the needs of Orbit clients. You can find him on LinkedIn and Twitter.
This has been a Fantastic B Corps post, MyCorporation’s salute to the entity that gives back to business and society. Join us biweekly for a glimpse at the entrepreneurs using their small business to “B The Change” in this global movement for good.