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Our Story

It all started in 2017 when Melanie Shires and Kami Pollvogt joined forces…

While Melanie was helping entrepreneurs with business growth and marketing solutions through her boutique consultancy, Kami was helping entrepreneurs improve their online conversions and customer experience as a user centered design consultant.

As fellow entrepreneurs (who come from executive-level corporate backgrounds with professional coaching certifications) we wanted to change the way entrepreneurs approached building and growing a business they love.

We noticed a common problem among many entrepreneurs keeping them from reaching potential clients and growing their business. They were making business and marketing decisions without the end in mind. And, consequently, wasting lots of time and money because they didn’t have a written business plan in place to reference and keep them aligned to their business intentions and goals. 

So, after many long meetings at coffee houses, we decided to offer programs centered around educating and collaborating with entrepreneurs and small business owners resulting in customized solutions (tailored strategies and business documents) to support the launch and growth of their business.

It was time to provide business building knowledge exposing the pitfalls entrepreneurs experience when desperate; rushing to try various marketing tactics, hire agencies, or implement strategies based on what other businesses have done. While we agree there are consistent steps to building any business, we do not take a cookie cutter approach where each client is shown how to implement the same number of steps regardless of what business stage they are in or what their goals are. We understand each business is unique with multiple variables requiring thoughtful consideration before acting.  Therefore, our intention is to give each client business building strategies to maximize their bottom line by becoming a virtual member of their business team. 

We call this experience, COLLABORATORY.

 

Our Philosophy

COLLABORATORY is founded on the principle of intention. We believe an intentional mindset leads to significant outcomes. This is done by deepening our thoughts with awareness of a situation then asking ourselves “why? and for what value?” Doing so leads to an examination of perspectives and options for (or creation of) innovative solutions. Solutions that are rooted in intention will result in greater influence, bigger impact, and increased profitability. 

As fellow entrepreneurs, we understand firsthand the innovative spirit, passion, determination, struggles and challenges faced on an ongoing basis.  We respect the dreams that keep you motivated to make an impact within your industry. We recognize the positive ripple effect that occurs by working together to provide genuine knowledge, transparency of our business ups and downs, and what it truly takes to build a successful business.

The values COLLABORATORY operates by are fully aligned with our philosophy serving as reminders and ensuring consistency throughout the company.

 

OUR VALUES

Mindset Matters: We strive to operate with realistic optimism (hopefulness and confidence about the future or the successful outcome)

Intention Is Everything: With every “business step” we promise to ask of ourselves, “what is my intention in taking this step”, then ask “Is what I am doing in alignment with my intention(s)?”

Lead with Love: We will operate first and foremost with upmost kindness, compassion, and respect to everyone we interact with.

Collaboration Creates Magic: We value our partners and clients’ participation and contribution to making our business, and theirs, the best it can be.

Empower Individuals: We value diversity and individuality, it is important to us that we listen to and support our partners and clients in reaching their business goals.

Education Breeds Excellence: We believe in continual learning and education to ensure excellence in all we do and provide for our clients.

Never Give Up: Failure is GOOD! It gives us an opportunity to learn and grow. Pick yourself up and try again.

Gratitude is the Best Attitude: We strive to be present in the moment to look within (and out), take stock in all that has been accomplished, then give THANKS!

 

What IS THE COLLABORATORY EXPERIENCE?

WE ARE ENTREPRENEURS HELPING ENTREPRENEURS FOCUS ON WHAT MATTERS MOST IN BUSINESS

Hint: It’s not marketing

Like most things that last in life, it’s the foundation that matters most! No matter what stage your business is in, we can help you focus your attention and actions on the foundational elements that matter most to your business and customers. We'll help expand your network, provide you the skills, tools, and perspective to go from point A to point B, and perhaps a little bit of tough love when needed. We strongly believe that through collaboration with experienced business owners you’ll progress faster than you would on your own. We do all this by combining three service characteristics:

EDUCATION

Get the business building knowledge, tools, and mindset skills that will save you time and money!

COLLABORATION

Get a team of entrepreneurs that are experts in their field to help you develop effective business strategies and plans.

CUSTOMIZATION

Get a business plan, marketing strategy and business building tools tailored to your unique business.

 

OUR TEAM

As the saying goes,Two Heads are better than One … Meet Melanie and Kami!
The COLLABORATORY team is fully bought-in and committed to collaborative learning and building businesses with entrepreneurial partners. Our ambition is to attract, nurture, and develop great talent in an environment that allows us to be the best we can be.

 
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Founder | Owner

MELANIE SHIRES, PCC

Melanie Shires is a certified business coach who helps entrepreneurs build a tailored business plan to use as a tool to optimize focus, implement the right marketing strategy, create the best client experience, and incorporate the right technology to improve efficiency and exceed business growth goals and maximize ROI. 

Melanie also works with ASU’s Entrepreneurship + Innovation administering her passion and expertise for helping entrepreneurs grow and scale thriving, sustainable businesses for ASU student entrepreneurial start-up ventures. She inspires these innovative students to move their start-up ventures forward, mitigate risks and leverage opportunities through hands-on business coaching and mentorship.

Prior to COLLABORATORY and ASU, Melanie was a business consultant specializing in integrated marketing and outreach strategies for financial service companies with a core concentration in connecting innovative programs, services and partners to create new opportunities for growth. Melanie’s business and marketing expertise developed over a twenty-year period as a marketing executive in the financial services industry. She provided strategic market vision and leadership for Stein Roe & Farnham, a wealth management firm, and eFunds Corporation, a global payment processing firm.

She gained national attention and notoriety by providing financial education and banking access to thousands of unbanked consumers as the national program director for Get Checking, a financial literacy program co-founded by eFunds Corporation and the University of Wisconsin.

Melanie holds a B.A. in Advertising from the University of Illinois, professional coaching certification from the Southwest Institute of Healing Arts, and inbound marketing certification from HubSpot Academy.

Melanie is a member of the International Coach Federation (ICF) and International Association of Coaching (IAC).

 
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Director of Operations

KAMI POLLVOGT, CERTIFIED USABILITY ANALYST

Kami Pollvogt is a certified coach and customer/user experience (CX/UX) consultant helping entrepreneurs learn, design, and implement solutions to create satisfying or compelling experiences for users of business products and services. With over twenty years in the tech industry, Kami possess strong creative, technical, and problem-solving skills which allows her to provide COLLABORATORY business clients with insights to:

  • Better understand their target market thru market research, focus groups, and usability testing.

  • Improve the customer experience by evaluating and optimizing all customer journey touch points (online and in-person)

  • Reduce the friction customers encountered by over-complex business process and information.

  • Create original graphic and digital media designs (e.g. images, sketches, icons, frameworks, presentations, and tables)

  • Learn the nuances of a successful customer branding

Prior to COLLABORATORY, Kami was a Transition Change Management and User Experience Program Manager for Intel Corporation specializing in change initiatives, software solutions, and user experience improvements in support of successful employee transition/adoption of business-related changes.