Gene Waddy, CEO and Co-Founder of Diversant and Alpha Business Solutions shares why he attended in 2018 and why he's coming back in 2019!


As CEO and co-founder of DIVERSANT and Alpha Business Solutions a payroll solutions company, Gene Waddy’s business has seen exponential growth through diversity. So much so, that DIVERSANT kept growing throughout the economic downturn, and now has revenues of $190MM.

With that growth comes the understanding that even more is possible, and so in March, 2017, Waddy launched Alpha Business Solutions. The payroll company is already seeing substantial revenue with the promise of greater things on the horizon.

The staffing solutions firm DIVERSANT is one of the largest Black owned IT staffing firms in the country, they are a certified MBE, and built on an ethos of empowerment. Sustainability and growth are baked in.

Gene Waddy serves as the MBE Liaison for the Derby Diversity & Business Summit, and lending sponsorship to the conference for the second year in a row. At 2018’s summit, he forged relationships with Delta, Humana, and Procter & Gamble. “We’ve already seen a return on investment,” he said. He expects to close on a contract with one of these major corporations this year.

“I was able to do in a few days what would have taken years,” he said of the connections he made with Fortune 500 companies at the summit. Part of that is the intimate nature of the event. Another part is how bonds are forged in an atmosphere of celebration and mutual respect.

While many conferences are about praying you make an impact as one in a sea of faces, DDBS affords much more than the chance to blurt your pitch at a harried rep after standing in line. It’s hard to shine under that kind of pressure, no matter how unique or essential your business. You might walk away feeling like you ticked a few boxes and shook some hands, but perfunctorily, and perhaps, forgettably.

The Derby Diversity & Business Summit centers relationship building. Rather than passing like ships in the night, participants orbit, returning to one another throughout the event, building bonds. There is ample time to shine, rather than a sense that you need to rush to the pitch or you’ll miss your chance.

Waddy found value in the Summit he couldn’t have anticipated. Being able to make personal connections built through shared experiences and the kind of fun you can only have at The Kentucky Derby has shifted his perspectives. It’s a one-of-a-kind event with one-of-a-kind people.

“It’s the most diverse event I’ve even been to,” he said, which broadened his spirit of inclusion. “It was enriching in a way I didn’t expect. I’ve never said that about a conference before. I learned something through this.”

“And let’s be frank,” he said. “It was fun. It’s DERBY! Not only did we have great business results, but on a personal note, everybody who was there, we’ve all kept in touch.”

Waddy encourages any diverse business looking to grow to take the plunge. The summit is a unique experience. There simply is no analogous event anywhere else.

For owners of smaller businesses, there are a number of packages and options. While you might not be a $100MM firm today, keep in mind that many Fortune 500s companies have small-business mentorship programs. “You may come in and meet someone at, say, Procter & Gamble, who’ll say, ‘You know what? You have a unique offering,’” and connect you to a larger firm as a sub-contractor.

“I would encourage anyone who is serious about growing their business to attend. You’re going to have face-time with some of the biggest corporations in the marketplace, and it’s not going to be a cast of thousands trying to meet the same few people. Here you have a chance to let your hair down and take a few days to get to know people. It’s a great experience. Up-close and personal.”

DDBS is proud to have such a seasoned business a part of this effort. Real world results that meld the worlds of business and community growth are an energizing force.

Laurel Kemper