We recently sat down with Maria Gallo to chat about her business, KITE, her passion for alumni relations and what she values as a member of The BASE Community.
1. Tell me about your business – KITE: Keep In Touch Education.
KITE is a social enterprise that focuses on the transformational potential of alumni and diaspora connection. We focus on research services, expert advising and strategy consultancy for governments, agencies, institutions and organisations that want to enhance their alumni and diaspora links.
2. Is it your own business or are you an employee of the company?
I am the founder and owner of KITE Limited.
3. When was it founded?
4. Why did you want to set up your business?
I have a passion for alumni and diaspora connection. I saw a niche for setting up a company that works specifically at educating alumni and members of diaspora communities – like the Irish diaspora in the USA—on the power of how these networks can support their personal and professional lives. I have a background working as an alumni relations professional and working on strategy in higher education, and I saw a gap on helping different parts of an institution connect to foster alumni connection.
5. Did you face any setbacks/hardship in setting up your business? How did you overcome those and what advice would you give to others just starting up?
Luckily no setbacks per se. My advice for those starting up is to understand your market deeply, connect with them and meet them to understand their needs. This immensely helped me to hone my services.
6. What services do you offer?
Expert advising in alumni and diaspora spaces, including research, strategy development and thought leadership pieces—for blogs and vlogs on alumni connection.
7. What are the main benefits of working with you/your business?
My services come from a solid empirical research base. Having a hunch or experience is important too, but KITE reinforces this with evidence. I believe that understanding the mutually beneficial value proposition of alumni connection can transform a business, an organisation, an institution- KITE helps to create these ambassadors for your business all over the world!
8. Why would someone recommend you or your services?
KITE brings enthusiasm, passion and energy to our alumni and diaspora work. You can find alumni in past employees, clients, anyone who has had a shared experience. KITE can help you to harness these potential ambassadors, advocates and supporters for your organisation.
9. Anything else would you like us to know about you or your business?
My plans for KITE in 2021 include a business pivot towards EdTech. I plan to concentrate designing and delivering online education courses on alumni connection for a global audience. These courses are based on my upcoming book to be published in 2021: The Alumni Way: Building Lifelong Value from
Your University Investment. Watch this space!
The BASE Community
1. Being a local yourself, what impacts does The BASE have on your community? What benefits do you see?
The BASE is a community hub for enterprise. With lots of people working at home at the moment, it is good to have an option to work in a professional work environment. It is more than a change of scenery, it’s becoming part of a community.
2. How does working at The BASE benefit you and your business? What do you value most about being a member of The BASE Community?
I have met some amazing connections through the BASE. It has broadened my network and the scope of my work. Working from the co-working space early on in my business means that I was on the radar when they were looking for speakers for the TEDxBallybofey. This was a pivotal point for me and for KITE to be able to get my message of alumni connection to a global audience only five minutes from home! I have forged friendships and build my network too. I look forward to coming to The BASE everyday!
3. What services do you avail of at The BASE and why?
I work from the CoWorking Space and also the meeting space when I have Zoom meetings and run online focus groups. When I am out of lockdown I also go to the Paul Smyth Inclusive Health & Fitness classes early in the morning and also the Donegal library on site. It seems I spend a lot of my time at The BASE even outside of my business!
4. What other aspects of The BASE environment do you enjoy?
I am a savvy networker and The BASE is great for this. I love to have lunch with fellow co- workers. I am nosy (I prefer curious!) and love to understand more about how they find themselves working from the BASE. It is a fabulous community!
5. What new services, features or programs would you like to see developed at The BASE?
Post-lockdown I would love to see some BASE members—and alumni!– networking events- to get to know all those working from the BASE- we then become informal advocates for each other’s work.
6. Would you recommend The BASE CoWorking spaces to other professionals and why / why not?
I had my own office, working in a university for over a decade. I was really skeptical that I could work in a shared workspace. I was wrong. This environment brings an energy that you don’t get in a space on your own. I would highly recommend it!