Even small companies can be big enough to do business with the U.S. government, especially if theytake advantage of the no-cost consulting and government contracting expertise of the Florida SBDC at UCF.
Vasu Vasudevan is president and CEO of Infotech Systems Inc., a developer of manufacturing & inventory control software and, more recently, a construction management company based in Melbourne, FL. Like most entrepreneurs, he was always on the lookout for new business opportunities and, based upon the success he was seeing others having with government contracting, he wanted to take his company in that direction.
There were obstacles, however. The federal government has strict requirements for those it does business with and is mandated, under certain circumstances, to help small, socially and economically disadvantaged businesses compete in the federal marketplace. Vasu recognized that Infotech was eligible but needed to be designated as such.
Fortunately, the U.S. Small Business Administration established the 8(a) Business Development Program in which it would certify that certain small business owners were socially and economically disadvantaged under the Government’s guidelines. But obtaining 8(a) certification is no easy matter, as Vasu quickly learned.
Initially, Vasu tried to apply for the 8(a) certification on his own, but realized he needed assistance. It was then that he turned to the Florida SBDC and its government contracting service, known officially as the Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC). Working with an FSBDC government contracting specialist and consultant, Patricia Simpson, Vasu and his team successfully completed the 8(a) application and submitted it for approval.
“We’re a very small business,“ commented Vasu “and don’t have the staff to check all the numbers, cross all the t’s and dot all the i’s. But we knew from experience we had to get what we submitted to the government exactly right or we would be rejected. Patricia and the FSBDC were very helpful in making sure we got it right, not just from a numbers perspective, but also in terms of the accuracy and responsiveness of what we presented.”
And it was a success! Infotech Systems received its 8(a) certification and, again with the assistance of the FSBDC, began to navigate the federal government contract bidding process. And that has paid off as well, with the company winning its first contract worth more than $750,000 – a remarkable feat, having only been certified for one year.
“I strongly recommend going to the FSBDC and getting their help” Vasu concluded. “Their knowledge and experience can make a real difference for a small business.”