VSolvit was founded in 2006 by Payal Kamdar. VSolvit (pronounced ‘We Solve It’) develops geospatial and information technology solutions for government and private sector clients. VSolvit is also a certified SBA 8(a) firm and Women Owned Small Business.
In 2010, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development (USDA RD) designated geographic information system procurement as an 8(a) set aside. VSolvit competed and won this five-year $14.5 million 8(a) competitive contract and within their first year of performance demonstrated how a small 8(a) firm can provide outstanding service to their customers.
One example of VSolvit’s innovation is an application that integrated Rural Development’s geospatial system with social media platforms such as Flickr and YouTube. This ingenious web application enhanced the USDA Rural Development’s community outreach efforts, lowered costs and enabled personalized, location-based data sharing. Based upon VSolvit’s sound execution and delivery on the program, they were nationally recognized as the USDA's 2011 Woman Owned Business of the Year.
This early success has garnered the attention of other prospects as VSolvit’s customer list has grown to include multiple agencies within the Navy and USDA as well as the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; and local government agencies.
Ms. Kamdar acknowledges that her business’ success is in large part due to VSolvit’s talented team members, the SBA and her advisors. “Without the generous support from SBA and its programs, VSolvit could not have transformed from a one person outfit in 2006 to the successful company it is today,” said Ms. Kamdar. “If small businesses are the growth engines of our economy, then SBA is the vital engineer who keeps the engine roaring.” VSolvit is a graduate of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program with Long Beach Community College District.
After leading VSolvit to national recognition for innovative information technology/geospatial solution development, Ms. Kamdar was recently honored by the SBA for driving VSolvit’s “exemplary growth and success.” Kamdar was named Region IX Minority Small Business Person of the Year, which recognizes small business owners across California, Arizona, Nevada, and Hawaii. Kamdar will be traveling to Washington, D.C. in October to receive the honor at the White House on behalf of VSolvit.
Force Multiplier: (Department of Defense definition) A capability that, when added to and employed by a combat force, significantly increases the combat potential of that force and thus enhances the probability of successful mission accomplishment; or (U.S. Small Business Administration definition) DreamHammer.
Located in Santa Monica, California, DreamHammer was cofounded in 2000 by CEO Nelson Paez - originally as a high-tech security services company. The SBA 8(a) software development firm used its 8(a) status along with a SBA $50K line-of-credit and $100K SBA loan through Wells Fargo to get started during the early stages of product development. DreamHammer also used the SBA’s 8(a) Business Development program and SBA’s Capital Programs to pivot from the private sector to the public sector where they also reinvested their youthful profits into building a product that was badly needed by the U.S. military.
What DreamHammer ultimately created was a universal control system for unmanned vehicles called Ballista that increases a war fighter’s combat and non-combat potential while controlling unmanned vehicles. Through Ballista, DreamHammer is on its way to solving one of the U.S. military’s long-held problems of making their unmanned vehicles, typically unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), accessible to multiple users while also allowing them to be controlled by frontline personnel. DreamHammer has the attention of the U.S. military, so much so that they have a contract backlog of $70 million and in 2008 had annual revenues of $9.9 million.
“[Ballista] makes things simple and scaleable,” said Paez - by empowering a single operator to control multiple ground, sea and air vehicles while simultaneously utilizing additional command and control functions. “It now takes four or five people to operate one unmanned Global Hawk…that’s more than it takes to fly a manned aircraft. We need a simple, easy-to-use interface that focuses the operator’s energy on the mission, not the vehicle.”
With the unmanned vehicle industry expected to more than double from about $4.9 billion in 2010 to more than $11.5 billion in 2019 (estimate from the Teal Group) and with U.S. military a key driver within this industry - it’s no surprise that DreamHammer has established itself in this rapidly expanding market.
Fort, a workshop/furniture reseller and gallery, is a journey as much as a destination when looking to acquire or trade furniture. Jacqueline Sharp, owner and founder of Fort has crafted an eco-friendly business model that gives a new life and new home to striking and hand-crafted furniture pieces.
Sharp, who studied art/design at the University of Iowa, started Fort in February 2011 with the idea to lighten landfills while preserving some great pieces. “Many of our pieces are made from scrap and reclaimed materials in addition to well-curated vintage pieces,” said Sharp.
Sharp had the core of her business plan in place in 2010, unfortunately her business partner backed out causing her serious concerns. She researched and walked into the local Women’s Business Center. “Honestly, I would not have found the courage or strength to start Fort without the help of the WBC,” said Sharp. “I didn’t know where to start on a business plan or anything about projections.” The meeting introduced her to Marsel Watts the program director of the WBC hosted by Valley Economic Development Center. Sharp had found an ally in growing her business and taking it to the next level.
“Jacqueline was a very quick study when it came to learning about advanced marketing techniques, financing and the benefits of social media,” said Watts. “We’ve been working together now for 17 months and I’ve seen tremendous progress. Plus, Jacqueline has been approved for VEDC financing, so when she’s ready she’ll have her business plan as a guide as well as financing.”
Sharp’s unique and attentive business model has guided her to early success. “The concept is that you can build your own fort by surrounding yourself with pieces you love to come home to,” said Sharp. She looks for alluring pieces that unexpectedly fit together to produce an elevated effect. In addition to Fort website fortgoods.com, the showroom is open to the public by appointment. Fort also holds regular workshops in the showroom to help customers learn how make their own home furnishings.
“Incredible possibilities have opened up for my business,” said Sharp. “I started the business thinking if I could make ends meet doing what I love that I would be happy. The more I’m around other small business owners through the WBC, the more I realize that Fort’s potential doesn’t stop there.”