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SBIR, Finding Your Niche and Getting Your Foot In The Door (Podcast Transcript)

SBIR, Finding Your Niche and Getting Your Foot In The Door (Podcast Transcript)

business strategy government contacts sbir Jan 05, 2023

                         [00:10] Richard C. Howard: Hey, guys. Ricky here with the DoD Contract Academy podcast. Merry Christmas. It's December 29, 2022. Hopefully everyone's enjoying their holiday week, taking some downtime, maybe thinking about work for the upcoming year and your family and all of that. And in the spirit of Christmas and the New year, I just wanted to talk a little bit about getting your foot in the door with the government, some ways that you could do that. Before I get into that, we'll ask you, hey, if you haven't subscribed to the podcast, please do so and leave a review. I'm not very good about asking you guys to do that, but it does really help. And we're in the top 5% of all podcasts right now, and I'd like to get us up into the top 1%. So leaving reviews and subscribing really helps. We don't have ads or any of that on the podcast, so it's really just the reviews and the subscribers. It's really what is going to drive traffic to the podcast. Share it with your friends, really would appreciate it. So let's talk about getting your foot in the door, because there's some programs coming up that I wanted to talk about. So if you've listened to a lot of these podcasts, you'll know that a lot of the companies that got their initial start got it through the SBIR STTR program.

                         Now, Congress recently reauthorized the program, and typically SBIR, which stands for Small Business Innovative Research. So if you have a technological solution or maybe an existing product that you could modify for government use, or maybe even if you just are really good at research, there's a lot of different technology areas within SBIR and STTR. The way it comes out is through topics, right? So topics are released. Some of them are very specific. Some of them are you could drive a truck through them, they're so broad, right? So depending on what your specialty is and what the topic is, you may be able to submit. Usually it's a white paper of some sort. It's not a 100 page proposal or anything, five to ten pages. Typically they're all a little bit different, so don't quote me on that. But a phase one, SBIR or STTR is usually relatively simple to put a submission in for. So there is an upcoming release. So there's a pre-release for the Department of Defense on January 11, 2023. I'm looking at it right now, so keep your eye out for that.

                         You can go to SBIR,, and you can take a look at the schedule for the phase one SBIR topics that are going to come out. So coming out in January, if their schedule is accurate, we're going to look at DoD. So on January 11, you'll see the pre-release. We're also seeing it looks like the Department of Commerce and NASA will also have January releases. So that means that a pre-release is typically you're going to see the topics that you can submit a proposal or application for, but when it opens. So for the Department of Commerce and for the Department of Transfer, sorry, for Department of Commerce and NASA, looks like theirs opens in January. So what that would mean is, and it doesn't have a specific date, but when they do open, you would be able to submit at that time. So you'll be able to go in, take a look at what the topics are and submit. And usually there's a window, it's usually not a week. So looking at the DoD pre-release is January 11. It opens for submission on February 8 and closes on March 8. So it gives you a month to get your submission together.

                         For Department of Commerce it opens in January 2023 and closes February 2023. So TBD what those dates are. And for NASA it also says January opens and February closes. So you have a couple of areas if you think you have a solution to technology that could potentially be good for one of these programs, now you have a target and it's a great first step. The reason I look like this as a first step is it's a relatively simple submission. You can go in and you could see what the topics are and it's a good way for you to propose your solution to one of these agencies and see if they find value in that, or if they find like this may be something that they can invest in. And we're not talking about a tremendous amount of money here. We're usually talking about fifty thousand dollars to one hundred and fifty thousand dollars investment on the government's side, but it really gives you a license to hunt. So what it does is first you're on contract with the government. So if you don't have a contract, this is a way to get past performance, right?

                         The other thing it does is they're basically paying you to find a government sponsor for your solution. And what that means is it could be a requirements officer, it could be an acquisitions officer, it could be the user of the product to say, hey, we think this is a good idea, we will sponsor this. And typically that means maybe they will host you at a base or in their facility to set up a demonstration or potentially oversee some developmental work that's going on. There's a lot of different avenues that that could take, but you're just getting somebody to say yes, they don't have to commit money. Basically they're committing time and maybe a location. But if you find someone to do that, then you can apply for a SBIR phase two. And that's where those larger funds come in that you've heard of with some of the previous guests on our podcast. So it could be over a million. They're all a little bit different and a lot of our guests have won multiple SBIR phase two awards and there are a lot of benefits to those. So there are some great things that you can look at in SBIR gov. It will also give you a good idea of topics if you're trying to still develop your niche.

                         This is going to show you some of the things that some of the innovative solutions the government is interested in. So, for instance, if you have a company that specializes in something like Cyber-security, which is pretty broad, or maybe sensor technology, well, you can go here and you can get a good idea of, hey, what are these different offices interested in? Maybe where you could focus or some ideas where you could take something existing and place that in a government office. It's a really great place for some research. I use it all the time. My clients use it all the time. So I thought I'd throw that out there for you. I think it's a good time. January is a great time actually, to start really kicking things into high gear. So, hey, if you want to learn more about selling to the government, maybe you're just getting started. You can go to We have a free workshop there, and in that workshop we walk through the defense contract formula.

                         So we give you an overview of what the basic steps are to selling to the government. And just by watching that free workshop, you are going to eliminate a lot of the major mistakes that businesses go through when they first sign up to start selling to the government. So it's not intuitive, it's not what you think when you just go to and register your business. It's not just if you probably heard me on my soapbox, it is not just filling out proposals and answering solicitations. Right? There's a lot that goes into this. So head over there, you can go take our free workshop. We also have some great programs. You could certainly join DoD Contract Academy, and that's a monthly program where you get access to all of our training and then questions answered. So I specifically will answer the questions that our students have, and we have more advanced programs where I work with companies and kind of get my eyes on their business, figure out their niche for them, help them get started so they can start selling correctly.

                         So we talked a little bit about SBIR. We didn't get too much into STTR. The only difference there typically being STTR is going to be a program where you partner with a nonprofit. So a nonprofit like a university, for instance. And that's another avenue. So you'll see STTRs as well as SBIRS. But I did want to make you aware of what you're going to see there. So, no guest on this podcast today. We have some great guests lined up. And if you've been listening, you can see we're bringing in a lot of businesses that have seen a lot of success here. So I'm really pumped and motivated to see how many small businesses are now seeing the opportunity with the government and how this can either exponentially increase what you're bringing in or maybe just bring in a different line of revenue, a new customer base to offset some of the fluctuation that's going on in the marketplace right now. Whatever it is, take a look at it. The government is probably buying what you sell, and this is a great way to increase the value of your business as well. So Take care. I will see you next week with a new guest, and I am looking forward to seeing you in DoD contract academy. And don't forget subscribe. Leave a review. Okay, thanks. Cheers.

If you enjoyed this episode, you can also check out Persistence, Expertise & Creativity Wins the Day where Sam Thevanayagam, President and CEO of Parts Life Inc., identified a US military need and shared his experiences in the aftermarket auto industry to build a thriving business.

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