Founder shares startup journey with inmates
The journey of a zWORKS startup has not only involved the founder but also some of his students at the Indiana Women’s Prison.
Ken Kitts is a mentor with The Last Mile, a program that trains incarcerated individuals in business and technology. He has worked with The Last Mile for 9 months.
“One of the greatest rewards has been the motivation effect that it has on the students,” Kitts said. “They’re seeing a world they didn’t even think existed, let alone one that they could be a part of.”
Kitts has shared the process of building The IT Factory from step one to the current phase of beta testing. The IT Factory is designed to help teams align their development efforts with the strategic goals of the organization and forecast dates with little to no effort. It prioritizes work based upon the strategic mapping and cycle time for completing a requirement.
“It lets you look at things from the business value view rather than just the product or project view,” Kitts said.
After various versions, he has finalized the beta version which he developed himself.
Kitts has been in software development for more than 25 years. He first enjoyed it because of its Lego-like model.
“It’s the idea of building something from the ground up – being able to take a concept and idea and form it into something that’s worthwhile and usable,” Kitts said. “That’s one of the things I preach to the students in the prison – one person, one idea can become something big.”
Kitts saw the need for something like this in his various positions in development from business analyst to project management to program director. The software is mainly for agile development teams but also fits with traditional groups as well.
These are the types of things he mentors to his students. He said they’re particularly invested since this is a company for which they could potentially work.
Kitts is no stranger to startup companies, having went down a similar path in the early 2000s with a tracking software. He said the differences between starting a tech company now versus then are stark.
“The whole technology world from the first time we tried has changed,” Kitts said. “We didn’t have the cloud. You had tons of overhead with servers and infrastructure doing a startup. Now, you don’t have any of that.”
He said the developer tools available have matured a lot since then and the costs have decreased dramatically.
Kitts is offering The IT Factory software to zWORKS companies for free that are willing to participate in beta testing. The software would then be free for 60 days following the testing.
He will also be holding a workshop from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday, April 15 at zWORKS on Pine, which will be half price ($250) for zWORKS members. That same week, he is having a free Lunch & Learn session from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursday, April 18 at Zionsville Town Hall where he will be demonstrating the software.
For more information, email Ken at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Getting to know Ken:
- Ken met his wife in Europe and dated long distance for a year before getting married.
- The story continues… Ken and his wife got engaged in England and married in Mexico.