DoD Contract Academy
Quokka | Combining Washington DC & Silicon Valley Philosophies For Scale and Growth (Podcast Transcript)

Quokka | Combining Washington DC & Silicon Valley Philosophies For Scale and Growth (Podcast Transcript)

business strategy federal marketing government contacts Jan 19, 2023

[00:06] Richard C. Howard: Thanks, everyone, for listening today. My name is Ricky Howard. You listen to the DoD contract Academy podcast. And today we have an amazing interview with you. We have Angelos, the founder of Quokka here, formerly Crypto Wire, and we're going to delve into what Quokka is a little bit of Angelo's background and just wherever the conversation takes us today. We had a little bit of a conversation prior to this, so I have a little bit of an understanding of why you started the business and how the government helped. But maybe we could start with you, sir. Maybe you could introduce yourself, tell us who you are.

[00:46] Angelos Stavrou: Hi, I'm Angela Stavrou. I'm a professor at Virginia Tech. I used to be a professor at George Mason, and I like to work with my students to create new companies and transition some of the technology that we have. And we're building very diligently at the university into practice and create environments where students take their ideas to the next level and become innovators and entrepreneurs, and they can actually leverage some of their ideas to instead be working cogs inside the company to actually have their own companies and grow their own ideas.

[01:24] Richard C. Howard: That's awesome. And let me ask, what did you.

[01:26] Angelos Stavrou: Teach actually this semester? I'm not teaching anything because I am preparing a new program within Virginia Tech that will allow us to teach the next generation of entrepreneurship engineers how to basically think about sales, about business plan, about intellectual property, and allow them basically to grow their ideas like I grew my idea when I was a faculty into a company. Sure, we don't expect everybody to succeed, but we expect them to get a formal training and allow them to interact with mentors and other industry experts that will help them shape their ideas.

[02:08] Richard C. Howard: That's really interesting because you think of a lot of the engineers I worked with in the Air Force or with some of the companies. Not a lot of focus on the business side of things when they're going through school. But they have some of the best ideas. I mean, that's what they're doing. They're solving problems.

[02:27] Angelos Stavrou: We want to show them that the idea is a starting point. But in order for the idea to grow into a company, there has to be additional work to be done. And sometimes that work is significant in terms of, like, market analysis. What you're trying to solve is what is the customer expecting of you? We as engineers, are mostly thinking about the end product and the prototype. But in reality, you have to do a lot of marketing analysis, market analysis, intellectual property search, because sometimes your idea has been done, but you just don't know about it.

[03:05] Richard C. Howard: Right.

[03:06] Angelos Stavrou: And how do you create a business plan? How do you approach the venture capitalist to raise your first funding? Who's going to give you your first funding? It's going to be the government. Are you going to have a product that you will sell. And we're teaching people how to think about these topics because if you give money to an engineer, the engineer, the first thing that he will do is going to try to create a prototype even though he doesn't know if the customer really needs that prototype or not.

[03:30] Richard C. Howard: Right.

[03:32] Angelos Stavrou: And the lessons that I've learned from Cocoa and crypto wire and how we cater to the customer, the customer first, and how do you make your idea be something that other people would like to use is what we're trying to teach here.

[03:49] Richard C. Howard: Sure, and it's an extremely interesting subject and you're right, it's not the first thing people are thinking about. They have a great idea and they're not thinking about the business angle of it. And of course, we focus on military and government sales in that process. And that's a whole different skill set, I guess you could say. Well, so maybe we could start back in the university. Right. Because I believe that's where you said the idea for crypto wire at the time came from working with a couple of students.

[04:20] Angelos Stavrou: Yeah, I was on Sabbatical and we were working with a couple of students on some of the ideas that we were brewing. And then we realized that we have an idea for a mobile application security tool and the students were about to graduate and they wanted to start a company and I helped them while I was on Sabbatical. And then we basically picked it up from there. And as I said, the first important package for us was the DARPA, the DoD brands for research, as you probably know. And they helped us basically with the initial funding. And then we created our first product that we actually sold to different agencies within the government, plus enterprises. And then the second big push came from Department of Homeland Security, the Science and Technology division, where they trusted us with funding to build the next generation of the tool. And then the company grew very organically without external funding until 2020. We then started bringing people from Silicon Valley because you reached that point where you need to scale and grow. And then we brought people from Silicon Valley to help us with primarily with the marketing, business development and the market side of things, which as an engineer myself had basically underdeveloped over the years because we were selling the product, but it was primarily due to word of mouth and not really a marketing strategy. And the company then rebranded to Quokka because we wanted to avoid the cryptocurrency association of cryptoire with the first part being crypto. And then we naturally grew and now we have received $21 million round A, I would say late round day funding. And then we are growing and our sales are growing, everything the company is scaling now. So we are very healthy in that sense.

[06:30] Richard C. Howard: I want to ask because public sector information is I always say is public, which is nice about talking to the government and kind of see what people are doing. Can we talk about maybe your initial? Because a lot of businesses listen to this web podcast and they're interested in how they get their first win with the government and others are certainly interested in how you scale DARPA.

[06:56] Angelos Stavrou: Yes, I will tell you that at DARPA we started as a university project, but then DARPA saw the potential for a business out of this. And as I said, at that moment I was on Sabbatical and then I took the opportunity to create a company and have my students that were graduating to work on it. I think that a lot of people don't know that, but the government provides a lot of seed funding through programs called SBIR Small Business Research Innovation Grants. And they can actually very quickly receive 150K for a phase one. And then I think it's a million dollar plus for second phase and then even more for third phase. And that also provides a vehicle where the government for phase three can actually award up to 25 million in licensing without having to compete because it comes through that process, this SPIR process that's very valuable for small businesses and people who have ideas. And I think that the process. We don't have enough SBIRS coming out, but there is also open SBIRS. And usually I would advise the people who are actually working with the government or intending to work with the government to approach the program managers, because many of them have access to this SBIR grant programs and solicitations, and they can actually help them get through that process because that is what we call, in the parlance of entrepreneurship, non dilutive funding. Which means that the government has some rights, but you can keep the commercial rights for all your ideas without having to have someone owning part of your company. But at the same time you have a prototype out of the process that you can market yourself without any red tape from the government. The other piece is that the government through this SBIR process has a lot of training seminars and also helpful experts that can actually come and help you with your business plan and help you develop go to market strategy. Which is actually something that in most of the people that I've seen working with the government, we lack. Like we are very good at building something. The government really likes it, but if you don't make it a product, then it becomes very hard to maintain, update and integrate at scale within the government. So the important part, and that's not happening easily, is when you have the first product, the government might buy it. How do you convert that product now into a commercial product and then separate what you want to do for the government? Or at least create some sort of bridge between what you do from the government with an entrepreneurship? And commercial piece while helping the government basically reduce the cost by having that commercial product which helps you also reduce your costs and of course, survive as a company.

[09:59] Richard C. Howard: Yeah, what you're saying the companies, especially technology companies that have been successful, it's almost like a repeating podcast interview where they get to start with either SBIR or maybe partnering with a university and going for an STTR. It's a very powerful program for a lot of businesses to get their foot in the door and help them develop their relationships and get the vehicle, like you said in the initial investment. But you touched on something that I would say a lot of I would call like the second phase companies that I talked to are having right where they've now been successful. They've done SBIR phase one, they've done sipper phase two. In some cases a lot of SBIR phase twos. But they are now struggling to bridge that gap. And I think you just touched on it from it's great to have cyber funding and it's great to be able to sell using that mechanism. But getting from there to a program of record, especially if you have something that's really innovative in army here's where.

[10:56] Angelos Stavrou: The cuts is here a lot of people, they are trying to reach the program of record. But I think that phase two should actually push you to do the commercialization of the piece more carefully. In other words, where you spend a lot of money in technology. In phase two and this is a mindset, you have to now spend a lot of money in business development and marketing and a lot of these companies do not realize that this is the next step. So you have now a good enough product that has made it through the phase two. As an engineer, you have to fight your natural linguistics to try to improve the product and instead freeze the product at the stage where you think it's good enough for the customer. They will never be a perfect product, but important is does it meet the customer needs and then spend more time and energy by bringing people from the outside? Doesn't have to be someone that you have to hire. You can have consultants, a lot of companies do that and go a little bit into the Silicon Valley mentality where you bring in teams where they take your product and they help your salespeople to get out of the government. Not have only government facing salespeople, but also have really commercially salespeople, where you now shift some of your government sales to be a small percentage of the first quarter of commercial sales. And as you shift and you blend your commercial versus government strategy, you can actually grow and allow you to basically reduce your cost and also now be able to make a case of being a program of record. To be a program of record, you should have to be able to support large scale and I will be very upfront. Right? I don't think that many there is this gap between the phase two, as you mentioned, and the program of record. And that gap cannot be overcome if you do not have commercial sales that can show the viability of the company outside of the government space. Otherwise, what happens is that you are trying to reach for the because of the government is very slow to transition this SBIR phase two and sometimes phase three to programs of record. You are not getting the funds that you need to sustain that growth. And then the companies, they have to drop that product, literally drop that product and then have to shoot for another SBIR phase two, which based on their track record, they probably will get it. But then basically they draw them up from scratch for another product which ends up having this bad cycle where it doesn't become a commercial product. So you have these very good companies with very smart engineers, but basically they keep restarting this productization effort because there's no real transition to commercialization. But frankly, creating custom solutions from the government which they never become a product.

[13:49] Richard C. Howard: Right? That's really smart and it's not something that I hear very often. I think we talk about it. Big picture. I will talk to people about having two streams of revenue, right? A government stream of revenue and a commercial stream of revenue, which I think is critically important because you can't make the government buy something from you, the government, you can't pressure them and like you said, you can't drive that program of record. Right?

[14:15] Angelos Stavrou: You cannot. By the time that you need that program of record, it might be four or five years down the road, but you will not have survived that cycle.

[14:23] Richard C. Howard: Right?

[14:24] Angelos Stavrou: The other thing is that it is very crucial to be able to have a marketing and go to sales strategy. The sales strategy for government and commercial are completely different. Many folks that I talk to, we have the DC mentality, which I am to blame too, that basically if you do well with it, the government why do you need to look at commercial? That's the mistake. You did both. I'm not saying you should drop one to get the other. Silicon Valley has the complete different approach. Why would you need the government, right? Sell your product to customers, do commercialization. Why do you care about the government? That's not a good mentality either. I think that there are very few companies like palantiri is one of them, that they manage to do both and they're super successful. I think the key here is that we can leverage the government to create, to get the good ideas out there, the products that they need, which usually have high overlap with finance and other sectors that require high trust or security. But you need to change your mentality the moment that you have that product in a good shape to bring in another team to allow them to commercialize that product and talk to other than government entities. Large corporations finance like different verticals and create a go to market strategy with a different sales team. Invest in that so you can create the necessary momentum for the product to cut outside of the government. So you can go back to the government and say hey, other people are buying my product outside of the government. So I mean, I have legs now to move, come and let's see what we can do for us. We were lucky enough to have that traction in the commercial space to allow us to survive long for the government to come back. And now we have a very large Caesar contract. I mean, we are going through ATO's authority to operate process and FedRAMP process and all of that, but they take a long time. And if you do not have the bridge funding from the commercial VCs to allow you basically to survive that gap, you won't be able to do it. I've seen a lot of smart people basically keeping pressing the restart button.

[16:45] Richard C. Howard: Yeah, there's also another good reason to start from just staying alive until you can get that extra government funding, which is one of the reasons the government likes dual use technologies which is usually baked into SBIR. Just if I put my acquisitions hat on. We had certain software suites that we had to keep alive for our weapon systems that weren't dual use. Which meant that every time we needed a software update, every time we needed to do anything to it, it was completely up to government funding and it would cost more. And at the end it was never as good as a product that existed both commercially and on the government side that was constantly being updated whether we were kind of paying or not. Right? So when it came time for us to buy the license, we're buying the most current license or the most current iteration of whatever the tech is. That's really smart. So having the government funding and the commercial funding is great for whether the economy is fluctuating or whether the government is taking a long time to get you the funding. So you took it to a point where the government came back around and your focus from what I understand in our conversations, which is really important, is mainly on mobile technology and securing mobile.

[18:00] Angelos Stavrou: So related focus is important. We tend to focus to a lot of different things that the product can do. But you need to think about what is your first customer? How do you make a product that makes a difference? It is unfortunate that in DC we have a lot of people with good ideas but eventually they have what we call bats and see, they put people inside organizations instead of actually productizing their ideas to the point that someone else now comes up with that product. And then the licensing, which is what makes you real money, is not happening from the people who might have already invented that idea, but a commercial company managed to basically leapfrog them and get them in front of them. I think that the region that we are in has a very strong engineering, especially in security and privacy and everything that is government related in terms of operations personnel and highly skilled workers. It's just that we do not have the, I would say, the proper background or training to take advantage of that to the next level. And I see a lot of smart people, as I said, reaching a point where they have something that's mature, but because they're trusting the original process, which is government funding. Government funding. Government funding to take them to the next level and that doesn't materialize as quickly or as timely as they would like, then the gap comes in and then they have to drop it. Whereas if you think reverse that thinking and reach that point where you have an MVP and you say, hey, why don't I go pizza to venture capitalists, see what he thinks. And then with a mature idea, you go, we have some sales, you get better valuation for your company, you get better term sheet, and you turn around, you get that money, and now guess what? You can build that sales team that is not customer facing in terms of commercial customer facing, and then have the other government work happen in parallel while it matures. You grow your company from the commercial sector and then you switch back or continue basically supporting the government, but without having to depend on the fiscal year. When is the budget going to pass? Am I going to get my next increment? When is going to happen? Do I have to fire people? Because if you fluctuate your workforce, it's very hard to regain people that you had to fire just because there was a downturn.

[20:34] Richard C. Howard: Sure, yeah, no, that's an important point. Could we talk a little bit about the threat of mobile devices itself and kind of maybe why you decide to focus there, why your passion is kind of protecting these and where the problem set is that you solve.

[20:53] Angelos Stavrou: Originally we started as a company. We tried to protect war fighters that were deployed in unknown or even hostile environments where they would have to carry their mobile devices. These devices would connect to foreign networks. Data would be tagged. For example, a photograph. You would upload it to Facebook. Facebook now had your GPS immediately. If you have soldiers that were posting photos on Facebook, all the US bases were actually online for an adversary to mine the information. And that's a real story. It happened basically back when people were deployed in Afghanistan and other places. So for us, we started by looking into, okay, what type of information are these devices collecting where that information is stored. What are the side effects? Can we identify apps that basically have no bad permissions or permissions that are allowing third parties to exfiltrate information about the users and the devices? For example, you have a weather application that makes a call. It reveals where you are in order for the application to actually get the forecast. But does it have to be the exact position? It can be the region, right? That's okay, too. And part of what we are trying to understand is how to protect the warfighter. Of course, if you think about it, nowadays every user is worried about the mobile data basically with the phone collects, has a lot of sensors from health applications all the way to banking. We store a lot of data on our mobile. And the reason that we focused on mobile is because we have anticipated since back then that mobile is going to overtake the traditional compute in terms of things that the actual end user is doing. And if you think about it, you don't carry your laptop everywhere, but you do carry your phone everywhere, including your bed, including places that you would not carry other devices just because you want to have or you're wearable forget even about your phone. You have now a watch and you're wearing it. You might even be wearing when you're sleeping, right? And you might just take it off to charge it. In the future, the charging is going to become less frequent, which means that you will have it even more often. So for us, it's not about the device itself, it's about the data and the person. So we put the user first. We need to understand how data collected by those devices like mobile wearable, IOT devices, are affecting the ability of the user to perform specific tasks, meaning that you do need the data to be able to basically, if someone finds out that you have any regular heartbeat, you do want that data. But who gets access to that data is the real question. How do you integrate those devices to a work life environment where you have a company that you work, you go back home, maybe your kid picks up the phone. You want to have some sort of seamless integration of this technology with our everyday life. And so far, what we have been doing is that we try to separate the two by having a work phone and you have like a personal phone. And then guess what? The two of them have somehow to exchange information because, like, you do stuff on one phone, or you don't want to do stuff on one phone and you do stuff on the other phone. But can we actually integrate these devices? Because guess what? They're around us, we're wearing them. How can we do that? So Quokka is trying to address the problem of how can we manage the data on our device. And at the same time, make a third party like a company. Trust that our device is not compromised or doesn't have applications that can compromise the back end system or the documents that you have. So we're trying to separate in the device what you do for work, what you do for personal things. And then if you want to have to wipe the device, you don't wipe everything on the device. Basically, you can just remove the company data. So in other words, you have photos, you have some documents that you downloaded through email, and now you were working for a company and you decide to change company. You want somehow very easily to have your phone with you, like bring your own device. And the phone can be sanitized remotely by wiping the data that are relevant to the company that you work for. So you can join another company.

[25:08] Richard C. Howard: Right?

[25:08] Angelos Stavrou: So part of what we are trying to do is basically create that environment like vision. Our vision is that you have to have one phone and you have to have LOT devices, but you are in control of your data. People should not see your data, should not inspect your data. They should only be concerned about the apps that you have and how these apps are operating on your device. Because inherently the user is not malicious and you cannot control the maliciousness of the user, but you can control the maliciousness of the apps and how they handle data.

[25:39] Richard C. Howard: Right? Yeah, no, that is really interesting, especially, and I can very distinctly remember being deployed as a military guy and being told, hey, don't post your pictures because they're going to know where you are, or hey, you're having to carry two phones, right? And inevitably two phones, you lose one and all of a sudden one phone is doing both because you have to. And we talked a little bit too about how individuals don't want the companies they work for to own their data.

[26:09] Angelos Stavrou: No, they don't. I personally don't want to because, and I will tell you why, because you never know when you will do something that's not going to be a corporate thing just because you have a phone in front of you and you just browse something. You don't want that information to be leaked and transported then worse. Now European Union has these rules where the data provenance becomes a problem and the companies now have to be responsible for the data provenance of the devices that they issue to the users. And also they have to have an ops team that will look into that data to make sure that it's not transported to a cloud provider that's outside of the region. There are a lot of hairy regulatory concerns. Another problem is that why would you want to care about the data of the user, whereas you care about the behavior of that data that are pertaining to the company, not the personal data? If you can safeguard those data that are company related. You don't have to worry about what the user does with the device on his own time.

[27:09] Richard C. Howard: No, you're right, it's really important. So now it's very clear how that would be used commercially, right? Like you just use the example of people working with different companies. So obviously you have a strong commercial armor of business and now you're back with the government. Are you looking at using quota in the same way with, for instance, iPhones? That government employees and military persons.

[27:33] Angelos Stavrou: So I think that the government is wasting, in quotes, a lot of money by using all these managed devices that they have to issue to the soldiers, to employees. And yes, there are some employees that they do need to have a highly protected device, but there are many others, like 90% of the other people who they would be very happy to have their own device. But that device have some sort of protection and notifications. That is not the traditional out of this box software that we have, but something additional to that that will allow us to understand how the data are being processed. Do we have any apps that are risky? What is the risk that this app introduces? Where do my data go? I want to know. So for example, you take a coke up and you open the first thing that you see is a map of where your data go. So if you open that up and you see where the data going, you see some data, for example, going to Europe, you will go question which application is actually sending my data to Europe? Why is that happening? What type of data is that? So I think the users are not really aware of what's happening on their devices and helping the user being aware, you're actually arming him with enough information and enough knowledge to understand the risk and at the same time protect himself beyond just the data that we have from the government or the military. If you protect the user, you're actually creating a protection endpoint protection that's actually embracing more activities of the user instead of less activities, including his personal life, which reduces the risk for that person, which is a benefit at the end. Because what if I can manage to get to your personal phone and then I add a harassment or find something that's embarrassing to you and try to blackmail you? But if you have that protection and that is avoided, that's excellent. Right now we talk about us offering a service to the end users as part of him being part of the military family. We protect your device and then guess what? You're also getting all the benefits that you would get if you have a military device but you get to bring your own device without reduce my costs.

[29:42] Richard C. Howard: That would be very convenient if I'm just putting myself it wasn't that long ago having. To carry those two devices with me everywhere or three, sometimes three being able to use one that I could keep and not have to worry about. Because just like in the commercial world, people are maybe will spend a couple of years at one company and move on. The military personnel very often are moving every couple of years and you have to turn in the phone, get a new one. Now your passwords and everything else are on the old phone. It could be not only, of course.

[30:14] Angelos Stavrou: But it's also very difficult to manage because there is a lot of mobility. In fact, you want to be able to have seamless transition from one location to the other. And you want to own your phone so you can actually have, as we discussed, you will use that's exactly what you will use. You want to be able to have the ability to use your phone for personal and work use. And I understand that there will be some cases where you have clearances or very sensitive data that warrant to have a separate device. And yes, that is these cases that Coca is not going to be able to help. But for the majority of the cases where you have literally people who sit on the front desk, they don't have access to any sensitive data, but they just want to use their phone. But because they're part of the organization now they have to have a managed phone and now they have to have a second phone or a third phone. We want to actually try to avoid that, but also at the same time reassure the company or the government agency that they work that the phone is just not a rogue phone that someone brings in and they can just put any application and then anything that happens becomes a back end problem or an administrative problem. But rather than it's a curated process where there is protection running on that device. It's just that the protection is not an MDM protection where it's kind of punishment. You can either run something or run something. Here there is an agreement between the user and the corporation that if you violate the trust, then you lose access. That's it. And you bring your own device, you own the data, you leave the corporation, you keep the data, we remove the data from the corporation. That's a clean separation.

[31:54] Richard C. Howard: Absolutely. So you described your technology and I think a lot of us are probably also a little bit scared to see where our own data is going on our personal devices. What's next for Qualcomm? Where do you see the company going from here?

[32:09] Angelos Stavrou: So for us there is this web of information that IoT devices like your car is collecting. We want to extend that web of protection to everything that touches the user activities. For example, your TV, your camera, your LOT device. We want you to have an awareness of the type of information that you release that this device collect, where does it go, how is it managed? And let me give you a great example, right? I'm married and I have two kids. I don't want to control my kids devices, but at the same time, depending on their age, I want to be able to know some of the activities that are involved and protect them in case someone is trying to put some sort of privacy violating application on their devices without actually hearing what they're doing. Actually this is a delicate balance between knowing what the people are safe, but without necessarily violating their privacy. I do want them to be able to play games, but I do want to control the type of and which games they are playing so they can be curated. So here we're trying to reach a point where we create some sort of trust between the person who is actually using a device and the person who is allowing the device to be used or introducing the devices to the environment. And that's something that I think even for regular families or situations where we have elderly people or protected groups, you want to do that. Curation of data and awareness is important. So making these people aware, okay, now this device collects your data and let's see how they are being used and make them in control of that information is important.

[33:52] Richard C. Howard: Yeah. No, I agree. I have three little kids and they're all on the devices. I definitely resonate with that piece of it. And not to mention we talked a little bit about it with all of the things that are now connected to the internet that normally you wouldn't think about putting a cybersecurity requirement in place for or protecting, like everything from your garage door opener to your refrigerator right, is now connected to the internet. And like you mentioned, sharing data with who knows what data and who knows where it's going. I guess quota knows exactly.

[34:25] Angelos Stavrou: Part of the problem is and you will see that in our app, the number one tenant of our approach is user awareness and the user is in control of his device. What happens in the device, we are there to advise the user. We are not trying to prevent the user from doing things. But at the same time we believe that if the user is aware of the privacy and security concerns that specific applications introduce, he would make better choices. And especially if that comes, for example, if someone tells you in order for you to connect to company X, you need to remove that application because it does this and this and this then becomes a choice.

[35:02] Richard C. Howard: Got you. Well this has been great. You've really done a great job helping me too to understand some of this space. I think people think about cybersecurity or think about securing a mobile device in passing, but they never really spend some time thinking about just how much of our personal information is in there and where it's going and how we could protect the military members too. So you guys are really doing great work for our country. I will always ask this when I'm talking with a business owner that's been successful selling to the federal government. For the businesses out there, maybe for the technology companies that are considering selling to the government, would you have any advice for them on maybe first steps or maybe how they could avoid some mistakes?

[35:47] Angelos Stavrou: So I think the biggest mistake is that I made myself is not paying too much attention about, as I said, to sales go to market the commercial aspect of the development of the technology. And at the beginning it's easy to get small amounts of money from the government. But as you grow and you're trying to get bigger and bigger licenses and as we discussed, like program of records and all of that, the government becomes slower and slower, and then the business owners don't realize how quickly that can dry up their pipeline of funding. And they need to be able to diversify it with commercial sales as soon as they can, because that will allow them to have longevity for their program to mature within the government, to be able to come back and have more federal sales. Another advice is that they should definitely try to check the different vehicles. For example, SBIs phase three and the GSA are two very good options for the government to be able to do business. Because sometimes there's the government need you talk to the acquisition officer they want to buy, but there is no vehicle. Then you have seen probably that some of that there is a lot of need for technology, but there's no vehicle to buy. Like in the process going creating a product through GSA and all of that can be cumbersome or time consuming and by the time that they do that, you have already moved on. Also the final thing is that the government works in cycles, fiscal year cycles. And the timing of how you will time your sales and approach people is important. It's not unlike commercial which is flat throughout the year. The fiscal year ends in September, the new one starts in October. And that you have to time your sales based on that.

[37:35] Richard C. Howard: No, you're absolutely right. We talked a lot about that. So I'm not going to jump on any of those too hard except to say and I guess if someone's just listening to this for the first time, that when you're talking about vehicles, I guess that's another big differentiator between the government and a company. A company can just go buy something from you, me and you can go to whatever car dealership we want to and buy a car, whether it's good or bad from our buddy. Government can't do that and they need a way to buy it from you. So it could be the best solution on Earth, but I can remember saying so many times, all right, how do I get to them? How do I buy it from? Because also some offices don't. You might have GSA, but my office might not use GSA, so we need another one. So I might use the SBIR or I might use NASA.

[38:20] Angelos Stavrou: That's important, and that's something that people need to know ahead of time before they approach that. They have to have some sort of thoughts on that.

[38:27] Richard C. Howard: Sure. No, this has been great. If anyone wanted to reach out to you or the business will be a great way to contact you, just send.

[38:35] Angelos Stavrou: Me an email or connect with me on LinkedIn and I would be very happy to help out and answer questions. I do that all the time. As I said, we have also tried to grow the entrepreneurship activities here in the Alexandria and Northern Virginia area.

[38:49] Richard C. Howard: Okay, no, that's great. So I will leave a link to your LinkedIn profile in the show notes here so people have a great way to reach out to you. Angelos, thank you again for coming on the podcast. This has been great for everyone listening. Thank you for tuning in or hitting the play button here. You can check us out on if you want to learn more, check out the show notes, and if you want, we will have the links to Angelos LinkedIn profile and to the website. Thanks again for listening and we'll see you next time.

[39:23] Angelos Stavrou: Thank you very much.

If you enjoyed this episode, you can also check out my Interview with Brian Streem, CEO of Vermeer and learn how he pivoted from his Hollywood filming business to winning multiple phase 2 SBIR contracts , catapulting Vermeer into the federal marketplace. This is a true story of determination, persistence and excellence.

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