August 10, 2022

Together We Grow: Creating Opportunities Through Partnership

By Sherlaender “Lani” Phillips

Microsoft Cloud Partner Program: How Indirect Providers can Help

In honor of National Black Business Month, we celebrate the impact and opportunities that arise when our partners collaborate. We are privileged to work with many innovative, game-changing small businesses.

We aim to deepen our relationship with these partners through programs like the Microsoft Black Partner Growth Initiative that support our small-to-medium (SMB) sized partners as they create a profound impact on the Microsoft Partner ecosystem.

As part of this commitment, in Q3 of FY22, select partners within the Microsoft Black Partner Growth Initiative participated in the BPGI Accelerator program, which facilitates community building and business growth among the program participants.

Four BPGI partners came together to demonstrate how close collaboration can help all of us achieve more. These four partners built a new framework in what is now called “Information Technology Partners” (ITP). They include:


  • Jody Mitchell, CEO and founder of Directed Analytics, based in Washington DC
  • William Storey, founder and CEO of Advanced Consulting Experts, LLC of Columbus, GA
  • John Igbokwe, President, TechAxia headquartered in Denver, CO
  • Dele Ojelabi, a professor of computer science at Marquette University and Principal at Comcentia, of Milwaukee, WI

A Cooperative Network of Smaller Tech Businesses

The four partners recognized that their unique areas of expertise meshed well, and each had been looking for ways to create lasting partnerships, lend their unique subject matter expertise, and draw on the skills and talents of the others—without sacrificing their individual ventures.

That realization led to the creation of Information Technology Partners, a hub connecting the four companies, pooling resources, skills, and brainpower to create a more competitive and complementary suite of offerings for their clients.

Dele Ojelabi explained, “For each of us, being smaller companies, the challenge is having the resources to compete against big companies. By working together, we bring all those skills to the table, with experts behind each of them, making us much more competitive than we would be individually.”

Jody Mitchell said that it was the BPGI Accelerator that provided the environment for this collaboration. “As entrepreneurs, we only have so much time and so many resources available to us,” he said. “I am always looking for ways to optimize my processes and to grow in ways that get the best results. With the Black Partner Growth Initiative, there was an immediate atmosphere of organic trust and a willingness to at least listen, if not work together. I’ve never experienced anything like it before.”

John Igbokwe added, “As soon as we began talking, and now as we’ve been working together, we realize we have complementary skill sets that allow us to access markets and client networks that we may have never had access to as individuals.”

“We” is Stronger than “Me”

While the Black Partner Growth Initiative and other SMB programs were created as a foundation to help partner communities strengthen their core businesses and go-to-market strategies, what we are seeing—especially in examples like ITP—is that partner-to-partner collaboration yields even greater success.

“There was something different about that first BPGI connection. Meeting so many other professionals in that way was really invigorating,” said William Storey.

“When we looked at our market penetration and performance over the past few years in each of our individual specialties, we realized that as a group ITP is as competitive as many larger technology companies. That’s game changing,” Jody Mitchell said.

The basis for successful cooperative partnership and complementary affiliation begins with trust, according to the members of ITP. In the process of preparing a bid for a federal contract, they realized that one partner was better suited for the work than the collective. The other three partners stepped aside in favor of the one partner submitting the bid, while still contributing time and resources to ensure that the individual bid is successful. “If he wins it, we all win in the long run,” Dele Ojelabi said.

Looking forward, ITP is looking for opportunities for more federal contracts, and to partner with Microsoft to deliver solutions, both as a long-held goal, and as a validation of partners making more possible.


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