Port & Starboard’s IT Acumen

ViBe District-based Company Port & Starboard’s Helps Companies Grow

by Gail Kent

Think of the beach and you think of water. Think of water and you think of ships.

That’s where Port & Starboard come in.

No, the company name doesn’t mean left and right as it does aboard a ship. The term also refers to the schedule for keeping watch onboard, and it’s this meaning that the owners adopted. They say they are always scanning for any technological dangers or opportunities headed their clients’ way.

Established in 2015 by managing partners Jeff Werby and Lisa DeNoia, Port & Starboard helps businesses stay shipshape through IT consulting. With a team of eight, the company builds websites, implements Salesforce software and serves as a “fractional CIO,” meaning it guides technology purchases, provides information security and develops data strategy at a fraction of the cost of a full-time CIO.

Werby, who was a Navy sailor for 13 years, and DeNoia were friends and coworkers at another business when their boss asked them to build a website for his kids’ baseball team. They formed the company to accept payment for the side project, then left their jobs a year later and went into the business full-time, says Werby. But launching one start-up wasn’t enough for them.

The pair also opened a co-working space in the ViBe Creative District of Virginia Beach called 1701, Werby says. In addition, they started a coffee roastery, called Fathom Coffee and Roastery, with the help of Werby’s father. “We were fueled by coffee, so we like to say that our business was fueled by Fathom, while we had our coworking space where we got to meet and work with other like-minded people,” he says. “We did all this while trying to acquire clients and work on growing and establishing the IT consulting company.”

The growing coffee business moved into its own location nearby and the co-working space closed in July when the building’s owner decided not to re-lease to them. But, Werby says, “we had a good seven-year run and we had hundreds of members come out of it going on to establish approximately 150 different business entities.”

The incubator phase of their company helped Port & Starboard set sail by facilitating collaboration and mentorship, Werby says. “We worked on projects together with some of the other businesses, and some of those people were folks who otherwise we would never have gotten access to. For example, if you tried to call up a company and get direct access to a 3D animator of that caliber, you never would have gotten that person.”

Left: Lisa DeNoia, managing partner. Middle: Alexandra Craig, operations manager. Right: Jeff Werby, managing partner. ©Photos Courtesy of Port & Starboard

Left: Lisa DeNoia, managing partner. Middle: Alexandra Craig, operations manager. Right: Jeff Werby, managing partner. ©Photos Courtesy of Port & Starboard

DeNoia jumped into business with Werby because he was the right partner. “I’ve owned and started businesses since I was 10,” she says, when she took her little red wagon through the neighborhood, buying and selling things from one person to another. Later efforts included photography and freelance writing.

“This business with Jeff was different than all the others I had started. I think having the right business partner to work on things together, collaborate and hold each other accountable is a huge part of why these businesses have been successful versus some of the things I’ve done in the past on my own.”

Both Werby and DeNoia brought experience in Salesforce to the new business, while Werby ran the Salesforce department and concentrated in infrastructure, WordPress and software development. As project manager, DeNoia was in charge of Salesforce implementation.

DeNoia explained that they have concentrated on Salesforce because it’s the leading enterprise CRM (customer relationship management) software on the market. The innovative platform gives people who are not traditionally software developers or coders the tools to develop software they need to run their businesses.

“We love owning and running our businesses,” says DeNoia, “and we really love working with businesses where we can help have an impact—not only with building a tool, but also helping them with their go-to-market strategy, their sales strategy and helping them execute whatever their vision is for their business.”

After thriving during the COVID years and building a team of talented, virtual employees, Port & Starboard is now sailing in smooth water and ready to take on new and larger contracts. While the business has worked in every industry, Werby says their ideal client is “somebody who is interested in growing their company by implementing technology solutions to help them become more efficient.”

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