Keyot aims to level the playing field for women in tech

Keyot aims to level the playing field for women in tech

Technology hasn’t traditionally been a woman-dominated field, but one local consulting company is aiming to change that. Keyot, founded by sisters Anjie Cayot and Laura Kelly, is a staffing company focused on workforce transformation. “That’s a mouthful,” Cayot admits, but it encompasses a simple yet effective set of services. “We provide people who have critical skillsets to companies that are either growing and needing help staffing up for that growth or needing a certain kind of technology expertise that they can’t find in the market.” Cayot’s husband Chandler is the third founder of the business. “He believes strongly in diversity in the work place and is an avid supporter of our overall mission,” Cayot says. “Being the father of two daughters, our mission means as much to him as it does to Laura and me.” 

Cayot and Kelly live in Woodbury now, but they originally hail from Ankeny, Iowa. Both displayed an early interest in technology and say they were lucky to have grown up to parents who encouraged them to pursue that interest. 

“Our dad was a CIO, so we were raised in a family that presented technology as a career option to us, even when we were very young,” Kelly says. “[Our dad] was a huge proponent of women in technology, and so we both went down that route.” 

They each worked in consulting roles at different companies before deciding to start their own. Keyot, which Cayot and Kelly founded in 2008, was born out of their shared desire to be of service to others—particularly young women interested in tech. “We felt like we had a unique platform to start a company and promote young people and women into technology careers,” says Kelly. 

Keyot offers a variety of services. Like many staffing agencies, they provide employees to  companies in need of technology specialists. Such clients include some well-known names—Wells Fargo, TCF and Money Gram to name but a few. Keyot also recruits recent college graduates and prepares them for careers in technology. “We like to consider ourselves like a professional dating service,” says Cayot. “People have dating apps, and they’ll swipe right or left. We’re like a version of that but for your professional development.” 

Keyot is a big company now, but it has simple roots. Its first office space was the basement of Kelly’s home in Woodbury, complete with two cubicles that she and Cayot bought off of Craigslist. “We hired our first consultant across my dining room table,” she remembers. Now, just over a decade later, Keyot is a force to be reckoned with—it has over 200 consultants across five states and will generated a projected 25-plus million dollars in revenue this year.  

Across industries, Keyot is known for creative staffing solutions. Clients, Cayot says, turn to the company for help in a range of situations. “If they need to change the dynamics on a team, or they need to build a high-powered team, or they need to focus on hiring women or becoming more diverse,” she says. “Every business today is wanting their workforce to look like their client mix. Just as the United States is a melting pot of cultures and ethnicities, we try to do the same thing with our workforce and make sure underrepresented populations are prevalent.” 

Despite their company’s growth over the last ten years, Keyot has remained true to its core values, especially when it comes to giving back. "We're the people we are—and we've been able to build the company that we've built—because other people invested in us. We're constantly paying that mission forward," Cayot says. "We devote a large amount of our profits to giving back to the different communities in which we operate... and we try to instill those same values in the young people we recruit as they launch into their careers."