Leading the Way with 8(a)

Three office employees gathered around a single laptop in a meeting room.

Having worked for several, large federal IT contractors, Zhensen Huang saw a need to create his own team of experts – one centered on technical competency, agility, and client responsiveness – to deliver complex modernization and related services to government agencies. In 2003, with a PhD. in Information Systems, Dr. Huang founded Precise Software Solutions in Rockville, Maryland. The initial years of growth at Precise were challenging. By the start of 2013, the company still only had two employees. Later that same year, however, Precise began to support the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's IT systems. By 2014, Zhensen’s staff jumped to 16, and he would hire an additional eight workers the following year. Still, Zhensen knew Precise Software Solutions was destined to make an even greater impact on the growing IT needs of the federal government. But, how was he going to take his firm to the next level?  

The 8(a) Business Development Program is a business assistance program for small disadvantaged businesses. The 8(a) Program offers a broad scope of assistance to firms that are owned and controlled at least 51% by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. The 8(a) Program is an essential instrument for helping socially and economically disadvantaged entrepreneurs gain access to the economic mainstream of American society. The program helps thousands of aspiring entrepreneurs gain a foothold in government contracting. Participation in the program is divided into two phases over nine years: a four-year developmental stage and a five-year transition stage.

As Zhensen reflects upon his acceptance into the program, “Looking back, it’s as if I had been walking around in the dark. Then someone held up a light for me. That light was the 8(a) Program.”

As an 8(a)-certified small business owner who is still in the program's initial stages, Zhensen and his team have won several Blanket Purchase Agreements and sole-source contracts across multiple federal agencies

Within one year of entering the 8(a) Program, Precise Software Solutions more than double its revenue from $8.3M to $17.5M. Today, the company employs over 150 workers and is the largest small prime contractor at the FDA. In fact, so successfully has Zhensen led his firm to new heights, he was recognized as the SBA’s Maryland 2019 Small Business Person of the Year. 

This article does not constitute or imply an endorsement by the SBA of any opinions, products, or services of any private individual or entity.