Mike Gifford of OpenConcept on using the internet as a force for good
Mike Gifford is the Founder of OpenConcept- a web development consulting company helping nonprofits use the web for social change. Mike is a visionary technology and open source expert, on a mission to help others do more with less (resources) and make the web more accessible. Mike’s company walks the walk and wants to be an example for how businesses can be a force for good- they are a certified B Corporation, member of Carbon 613 and working towards becoming carbon neutral. As a “not-only-for-profit” company, they look for ways that we can contribute to making a more just and sustainable world. (ps- he’s hiring right now)
What does meaningful work mean to you?
What inspired you to started your company?
I started OpenConcept after working at Oxfam Canada. I had worked at a number non-profits previously and have a strong passion for environmental and development issues. I saw how non-profits were using technology and how limited resources were being spent re-creating the wheel. Technology moves so quickly and most progressive organizations are simply being left in the dust because they don’t have the resources to keep up. By collaborating, together I saw that there was an opportunity to leverage this new platform to amplify their message. Since then I’ve seen how this is also a need in unions, education and government agencies as well.
What was the greatest challenge you had to overcome to make this idea a reality and how did you go about doing it?
Making complex ideas simple. The internet is very complicated and changing quickly. How to offer clients advice which will serve them well in 6 months can be a challenge, let alone 6 years. Presenting an approach to technology that involves them as more than a consumer is still something that we struggle with. With open source technology there are always ways to influence the direction of the project by getting involved. We do this on behalf of our clients most of the time.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
One early piece of business advice I got was to share my best ideas. This goes counter to what many do, but I think it has worked well for me. By finding ways to share ideas with others, I have helped claim a leadership role in a number of communities. OpenConcept is recognized as a company that has been involved in issues like accessibility, open source, open government, inclusion. We punch above our weight because we haven’t been afraid to speak about issues that are important if we are to help create the world we want to live in.
Do you have a work/life philosophy?
There’s a leadership opportunity available at OpenConcept- they’re currently recruiting for a General Manager. He’s looking for someone to help manage the business to allow him help the business expand.