Helena Richardson has the ability to help clients anywhere in the world through her technology solutions firm HRichNetworks LLC.
“A lot of people find me through my website or through social media,” said Richardson, who founded the Chesterfield County-based business in 2009. “I have clients as far away as Philadelphia and Texas, but most are in the Richmond area.”
HRichNetworks’ areas of expertise include web design, web development and security, internet and social media marketing, network and cabling and software installation and upgrade. It is a small, women-owned and minority-owned, or SWaM, certified business and a vendor participating in Virginia’s online, electronic procurement system.
Richardson always had the desire to start a business, but it didn’t become a reality until she and her family moved to Richmond from New Orleans after being displaced by Hurricane Katrina.
She had worked in technology for 20 years, most recently as a senior level application developer for NASA’s John C. Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, a rocket testing facility.
After moving to Richmond, she got involved in the Greater Richmond Growing America through Entrepreneurship, or GATE, program for people displaced or unemployed.
“Hurricane Katrina and the recession gave me an opportunity to start a business doing something I love — technology,” she said. “GATE had programs in place to help you write a business plan and put together a financial statement. They taught you how to find customers.”
A web strategist, Richardson helps businesses embrace “the constant changes in technology,” she said. “My mission is to provide affordable, accessible and streamline internet and web solutions for small businesses.”
HRichNetworks works with any business with more than five employees and that has a budget between $5,000 and $10,000 for marketing or the development of website design.
She originally consulted with start-up firms, but quickly found they didn’t have the budget for her services.
“Now I work with a lot of different industries as well as state government,” she said.
Lina Lassiter of Forever Healed, a grief recovery organization in Henrico County, found Richardson very responsive and professional when she was asked to create a registration page for Forever Healed’s classes.
“She brings a vision. She had a lot of good ideas that we hadn’t thought about,” Lassiter said. “She listened to our mission and asked a lot of questions. She went above and beyond what we hired her to do.”
Richardson’s designs are tailored to the specific needs of the customer.
“My focus is always to put myself in the client’s seat and build a brand identity as if it was my own,” she said.
Most of her clients hire her to build a website that can be managed in-house after completion.
“I also have companies that are on a month-to-month basis,” she said.
HRichNetworks’ revenue grew 5 percent in 2016 over the previous year. “Year-to-date we have increased 15 percent over the same time period last year,” Richardson said.
This year, Richardson began teaching residents at assisted living facilities how to use their cell phones, tablets and computers as part of her business. She also posts “How To” videos such as how to secure you website on her YouTube channel.
Some of HRichNetworks’ largest projects involve e-commerce sites.
Gwen Hurt, CEO of Shoe Crazy Wine, asked Richardson to set up the wine shop’s online merchant services.
“There were many challenges with the ‘do-it-yourself’ type of site that I used,” Hurt said. “Helena was diligent in her service. She put in the extra time that was required to complete the job. She was very professional and thorough.”
She appreciated Richardson’s team-player attitude.
“She is a collaborator,” Hurt said. “She does not leave her clients out of the decision process. If she needs to change direction, it’s a collaborative decision.”