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Omaha firm takes advantage of government market with help from SBA and PTAC


Sri Devi and Mike Fisk of Omaha-based Guru Alliance

President and CEO Sri Devi (left) and Business Development Director Mike Fisk of Guru Alliance outside their Omaha office.


They're already known for their agility and ability to compete on price when it comes to finding software and technology solutions for their customers in the commercial world.  Their next goal is to tackle the tough federal government marketplace, and to that end they're counting on a team from the Nebraska District Office and the Procurement Technical Assistance Center to help.

Guru Alliance, a software development, technology services and staffing company with offices off 72nd Street in Omaha, has branched out around the world, with business in Canada, Singapore, and Chennai, India, the former home of company president and CEO Sri Devi.  

"As a company, you always look to expand," Devi said.  "For us, the federal government is a natural progression.  We've worked as a subcontractor, so that exposed us to working with the government."

Tackling the energy sector with passion and innovative products

With one of their signature products is a tool which enables petroleum producers, marketers and blenders to comply with federal mandates for renewable fuels set by the Environmental Protection Agency, Guru Alliance would seem to be a perfect fit for taking advantage of the prospect to grow the small business through the biggest buyer of products and services in the country.

Devi bought out her partner some seven years ago, and with a passion toward application development, "we thought we could bring high value to the energy sector with our diverse skillset."  But there's more to the story than that.

"We have a passion for what we do," Devi added.  "We want to contribute to society, to help the environment.  We know our renewable fuel tracking is a wonderful concept, so we really wanted to help businesses be in compliance with the EPA.  Sure, there are other factors, our customers can benefit from it, they can make a profit, too, not just by tracking the renewable fuel as it process through, but by marketing themselves as good for society.  We want to have an impact on the environment in a good way.  You know, this is the society in which you live, and we always as a team work to contribute something back."

Looking to leverage contracting opportunities

A couple of years ago, Guru Alliance certified as a Minority-owned Business Enterprise with the Great Plains Minority Supplier Development Council, leveraging the company's strong commitment to diversity to expand the company's market share.  In the future, the company will apply for certification by the SBA as an 8(a) firm; they're already a self-certified Small Disadvantaged Business.

Then there's the new SBA initiative, the Woman-Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program.  In the room during a rundown of the program at a seminar at the Nebraska District Office in September was Mike Fisk, Guru Alliance's business development director.  After almost 20 years with a large technology company, and several years working with large and midsize federal contractors and directly with the federal government, Fisk came aboard last July to help Guru Alliance better compete in the federal marketplace.  

They're quick to credit the SBA, and the Procurement Technical Assistance Center on the University of Omaha campus.  Fisk credits Roger Johnson, who has served for the past three years as a counselor with PTAC, for "hitting the bulls-eye” in helping us structure how our innovation and custom application development capabilities should be aligned in government related databases.  “There are thousands and thousands of federal, state, and local government opportunities.  How do you navigate that landscape, and focus on the best matches at any given time?  “Roger and I have worked hard to get things lined up just right.  We continue to work closely to keep things aligned appropriately with Federal and other Government databases.”     

Devi agreed:  "When we incorporated, we just focused on private sector.  PTAC made me realize the potential for companies like us, and Roger was very patient with me and helped me understand the process."

To complete in the in the government marketplace, Guru Alliance had Kathleen Piper, the district office's 8(a) business development specialist, on their side.  Piper helped the firm pursue solicitations for contracts, and help guide the process learning about capability statements and pre-solicitation preparation.  In addition, SBA Procurement Center Representative Dwight Johnson offered key feedback on positioning the company for progress in the federal marketplace after seeing a demonstration of Guru Alliance's software products and capabilities.  

"After having worked with PTAC, with Roger, Mary Graff, directly with the government, and the SBA, I understand the bright light shining on small business," Fisk said.  And when other companies who want to work with Guru Alliance call Fisk with questions about the contracting process, Fisk knows the right buttons to push.  “Our goal is to compete effectively with key players and the government marketplace, and at the same time partner effectively with key players in that same marketplace”, says Fisk.

Getting attention from other contractors in the area

As a result, others in the federal marketplace have taken notice.  Bellevue headquartered The Garrett Group  is one of four firms across the country which won a right to compete on pieces of a $277 million contract with the Defense Department and Defense Intelligence Agency; as they win work, Guru Alliance will serve as a subcontractor for The Garrett Group.

Pretty good testimony to Guru Alliance's ability to do the job.  “The Garrett Group sees us as innovative, agile, with price points that are very competitive.  They have assembled a cadre of team members that deliver best of breed services”, Fisk said.  “They are a top-notch company, great people.  We’re on board, and happy to be part of The Garrett Group team.”   

Devi said another local partnership was a perfect fit with the company's goal of giving something back.  SCOLA is a non-profit educational firm which receives, translates and retransmits news, information and entertainment programming from Italy to Africa and Asia, and every place in between, to its cable TV watchers across the country.  The organization, headquartered in a small Iowa town about 18 miles northeast of Omaha, needed a partner to help re-design and develop their online offering and build up its application modules, and provide ongoing technical support, and Guru Alliance was a perfect fit.

"We're being sought out for our core strengths, especially in mobile device applications," Fisk said.  As far as the company's future says Devi:  "We have an excellent track record and plenty in the pipeline with commercial, government, and 8(a) firms."