Women-Owned MSP Sprout Technology Group Folds After One Year

‘Everyone gives lip service to supporting women-owned businesses but the marketplace shows a little differently,’ says Sprout Technology Group CIO Travis Woods.

Sprout Technology Group, a women-led MSP formed by six channel veterans, closed this week after one year in business.

“The choice was made to dissolve Sprout,” Sprout Technology Group CIO Travis Woods told CRN. “It was a great venture and we’re all super great friends still. We didn’t find the women-owned distinction providing the opportunities that we expected.”

Sprout was formed in April 2023 as a women-led MSP with a mission to move the needle forward to further encourage women leaders in the IT channel.

The company launched with Allison Cohen as CEO, Belinda Yax as COO, Yesica McDaniel as global CSO, Woods as CIO and Richard McKinnon and Brent Yax as board members.

Brent and Belinda Yax own Troy, Mich.-based Awecomm, Richard McKinnon and Yesica McDaniel own Sacramento, Calif.-based DVBE Technology Group and Travis Woods runs Novato, Calif.-based Fort Point IT.

[Related: Women’s History Month: Fulcrum IT Partners’ Kelly Carter On Partnerships, Speaking Up And Figuring It Out]

Cohen was an event director at CRN parent company The Channel Company for 12 years before heading up Sprout.

According to a Linkedin post, she began a position as senior event director at New York-based information services company Questex this month. CRN has reached out to Cohen for comment.

“Allison got recruited away and it gave us an opportunity to look at the cards we were being fed and assess how far we’ve come and where we need to be next,” Woods told CRN. “We found that having that women-owned distinction didn’t carry the weight and didn’t bring in the opportunities that we expected it to. That was something that was off plan for us.”

The seed for a new MSP started with McKinnon who, from years of doing business, saw the barrier between women and men in technology. And the six who formed the MSP all liked the idea of something bigger and unique.

“Us six are truly different. We each bring a unique characteristic to the marketplace that the other person doesn’t have. It’s three men with good businesses and good business practices that are actually behind the women pushing the initiative for equality in the market,” he told CRN in April 2023.

The company hit the ground running with customers in large enterprise, SMB, and state, local and federal government in 10 countries. Since dissolving, Sprout customers found homes in the three MSPs that McKinnon, Woods and Yax still maintain, according to Woods.

“In the opportunities that we went after, there were very few of them that we found that would take advantage of these programs designed to advance women in underrepresented populations,” he said. “It really begged the question of our bidding and what do these state and local governments value. How are they making sure to advance folks that have been traditionally underrepresented, especially in technology?

“Everyone gives lip service to supporting women-owned businesses but the marketplace shows a little differently,” he added.

Belinda Yax doesn’t look at it negatively at all.

“It was super exciting and it was so fun,” she told CRN. “It turned into other opportunities and I’m so happy that I got to do it.”

Through her time at Sprout, Yax was able to network with others in the market, including other women-owned companies, and deepen existing relationships.

“The guys were so good, they would always push us to the front and tell people that they need to talk to Allison, Yesica and I. ‘They’re the boss,’ they would say,” she said. “It was really cool for the group of guys to do that, they never wanted to be center stage.”

Despite its closing, she’s hoping the venture opened some eyes in the industry to show that women are valuable in technology and in leadership roles.

“Maybe we made a mark or made more people think about it than they necessarily would have,” she said. “The more we talk about it, the better it will get.”