Business spotlight – IvyTek
JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA, June 16, 2021 – Michael Griggs was destined to work in finance. For three generations Griggs men have made careers in the finance industry. So it comes as no surprise that Griggs has been a part of the lending software industry from an early age. Prior to his father starting the software company that would eventually become IvyTek, the Griggs family relocated often, leaving Mike with fond memories of returning to Gould City, Michigan, each summer, enjoying the lakes, rivers, and woods of the Eastern Upper Peninsula.
Spending time growing up in Baltimore, Maryland, and later in Australia, Mike found himself serving in the U.S. Navy through the 1990s, where he met future wife and business partner, Sandy, at the Navy’s Intelligence Specialist class “A” school in Virginia Beach, Virginia. At the commencement of their military careers, the couple relocated to San Diego, California, where Mike worked for TransWestern Publishing. Starting in customer service, Griggs quickly ascended to a role as senior financial analyst, after less than a year with the company. Griggs continued his work in finance with startup RedDotNet as senior accountant.
Sandy and Mike, although fond of the San Diego sun, weren’t sure SoCal’s long commutes were the ideal environment for their young, growing family. Mike’s passion for finance quickly evolved into a passion for programming; building backend procedures and gaining experience in database development. “College is great for learning the fundamentals of IT management, but real-life experience working with a particular programming language is where the real learning happens,” remarks Griggs. Through self-guided study, and with encouragement and support from his colleagues, Griggs soon fostered competencies in multiple programming languages.
At the same time, Mike’s father’s software company was really beginning to take off. With the younger Griggs’ experience and knowledge in IT, and his father’s steadfast focus on programming the lending software, Mike soon took over the management side of the company. In 2002, now living in Louisiana and celebrating the birth of their second child, Mike and Sandy answered the call as both made the decision to go all in on the family business, IvyTek. But as any entrepreneur will readily admit, running a business presents a whole new set of challenges that, even with skills and experience, can seem daunting for any newly-minted business manager.
Griggs credits trusted mentors, working within a skilled support system, as well as a willingness to fill in the gaps with self-teaching, as key components throughout his entrepreneurial journey. “You can have your best day in the morning, but by the afternoon, it can quickly become your worst day. You have to keep going because tomorrow is another day,” offers Griggs. And continue Mike and Sandy did, each year growing IvyTek’s client base and expanding the markets it serves. As trends in the lending software industry continuously change, IvyTek has continued to learn from their clients.
The type of clients seeking lending software products is ever-evolving. “When Mike’s dad began the company, IvyTek worked primarily with smaller, regional consumer lenders,” adds Sandy. Over the years Sandy’s experience on non-profit boards and working with mission-driven lenders, Community Development Finance Institutions (or CDFI’s) and Economic Development Organizations (EDO’s) as director of client services for IvyTek has led to the development of a more enterprise-wide planning mindset. With the adoption of cloud-based resources steadily growing among clients, IvyTek was poised to make a major transition in the way they did business.
In 2014 Mike and Sandy made the decision to buy IvyTek from Mike’s father. Mike’s work in programming led him to leverage the vast CRM resources of Salesforce, becoming a Salesforce Developer Leader. With their sights set high, IvyTek began to take on work with multi-national lenders. Both Sandy and Mike credit the online Salesforce Community, as well as the Jacksonville business community, as playing pivotal roles in the success in IvyTek’s transition and growth.
As IvyTek worked more and more with mission-driven organizations, the more the business sought to learn ways for lenders to make it easier for non-profits to carry out this important work. Mike and Sandy thought about their own vision for IvyTek, leading Mike to further explore his own heritage as a Sault Tribe member. Through IvyTek’s participation in national conference events, the couple found the Native American business community a welcome market.
Sandy and Mike continue to expand their work throughout Indian Country and non-profit sectors, with Sandy currently providing support to the Sault Tribe Business Alliance as treasurer of the STBA board. “Early on, our focus was to develop lending software that simply provided our clients a means to achieve their objectives. Through increases in available metrics, leveraging Salesforce and tribal business technology adoption, we’ve come to see just what impact IvyTek’s products and services are having on the organizations, communities, and people our clients serve,” offers Griggs.
Over the last year and half, while many businesses were encountering a lull in their work, IvyTek experienced the opposite. Mike, Sandy, and their team put in extra effort to ensure their clients — and the organizations they serve — were able to meet the demands of doing business in the virtual world. “Prior to the pandemic, the majority of our lenders primarily relied on in-person interactions with their clients,” reiterates Sandy. IvyTek provided technical assistance to lenders experiencing the challenges of virtual business for the first time and focused more on education and training, enabling clients to build trust in the system and adapt to the needs of those they serve.
Sault Tribe Thrive is proud to support Sault Tribe member-owned business, IvyTek, and we thank the Griggs for sitting down with us for a virtual discussion. Sandy and Mike praise the Sault Tribe Thrive efforts in providing a business information hub for Sault Tribe member business owners worldwide. For more information about the products and services IvyTek has to offer, visit https://IvyTek.com/.