The following announcement was written by Janet Hovorka and Jessica Taylor:
From Competitors to Community: Two Women’s Mission to Unite the Genealogy Industry
As Genealogists They’ve Dedicated Their Lives to Helping Others. Their Competitors Are No Exception.
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH, February 1, 2017 – Janet Hovorka and Jessica Taylor are both successful entrepreneurs in their own right in the booming family history industry. Hovorka, an industry leader for nearly two decades, has built several genealogy brands, including genealogyDOTcoach, a one-on-one genealogy consulting business, and Family ChartMasters, creating heirloom-quality family charts. Likewise, Taylor started Legacy Tree Genealogists in 2004, which has become the world’s highest client-rated genealogy research firm and has grown into a million-dollar business.
The pair crossed paths at a genealogy conference, and hit it off, drawn to their similarities—working mothers that wanted to take what was considered as “a hobby” by many and capitalize on the potential to grow their businesses and allow them to help bridge the divide between individuals and their ancestors on a much larger scale
“Genealogy is considered one of the largest online hobbies,” explained Taylor. “But as a small business community, many operations are still learning how to mature into the larger genealogy industry and gain the knowledge necessary to compete.”
Discouraged by the lack of a formal entity available to mentor small business and provide a cohesive community for genealogy startups to bounce ideas off one another, Taylor and Hovorka decided if an organization didn’t exist, they would create one – and the Genealogy Business Alliance was born.
The Genealogy Business Alliance Facebook group was established, and the website created, proudly declaring its purpose “to provide a place for genealogy business leaders to discuss best practices, ask business related questions, network and create a united voice in the genealogy community.” Hovorka and Taylor built it, but would they come?
Clearly others had noticed the lack of such an organization as well, as word of the organization spread within the genealogy community, and membership numbers quickly climbed. Member businesses included operations in all stages of growth, from one-man startups to industry leaders such as FamilySearch and Ancestry.com.
“The response was exciting and overwhelming,” recalled Hovorka. “Clearly other companies were looking for the kind of mentorship that we had enjoyed on an informal basis between friends in the industry. It was gratifying to find that so many who had found success were now willing to work together and help mentor others.”
However, the initial surge in membership posed a unique dilemma. They were receiving membership requests from some direct competitors. Could the participating company owners co-operate even to the point of giving others an ‘inside look’ into their business operations? Together Hovorka and Taylor decided that if the Genealogy Business Alliance was truly to be established as a genealogy “community” that no exceptions would be placed on membership—including their competitors.
“There was some trepidation as we clicked ‘Accept’ on that first competitor’s request,” explained Taylor, “But the support within the group has been amazing. Business owners can ask for advice on what email server others use, what program they use for event management, questions on taxes—you name it! It’s become an incredible resource to help mentor others and provide a sounding board to those who need it. A sense of unity is now present, and it’s been invaluable.”
Progress of the Genealogy Business Alliance may be validated through a collaborative initiative that has been introduced for RootsTech 2017. Member businesses were invited to participate in the Genealogy Business Alliance Colossal Giveaway, a first of its kind in RootsTech history. Each participating business donated a prize for the sweepstakes, and in exchange, will have their logo displayed on a tabletop sign at each participating booth. RootsTech attendees may receive multiple entries by signing up at any booth bearing the GBA sign. There are a total of 16 prizes with a value of nearly $3,000, from businesses such as Ancestry.com, Findmypast, RootsMagic and Family Tree DNA.
“The fact that we as businesses within the genealogy community can come together and offer this collective sweepstakes, side-by-side with competitors, is truly indicative of the progress that is being made,” said Hovorka. “We all want to succeed, and often the best way to do that is to help others succeed as well.”
The GBA Colossal Giveaway will run from February 9th – 11th at participating booths in the [RootsTech] Expo Hall. For additional information on the Genealogy Business Alliance visit www.genealogybusinessalliance.org.