Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Growing from 1 to 50 employees? It can be done in NLA

by BIZ Magazine

When it came time to retire, Brigadier General Gerald Goodfellow (USAF, Ret.) saw the growing gap in technological advancement within the Air Force and decided to use his expertise to continue serving in a new way. As the prior Director of Strategic Plans, Programs and Requirements at Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) located at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, Goodfellow observed first-hand AFGSC’s difficulty in acquiring and implementing cutting edge commercial technology for the nation’s most powerful weapons systems. His solution? Create a company that can act as the matchmaker between the Department of Defense (DoD) and the commercial market, to vet, mentor, and guide companies through the complicated procurement process. Enter the Small Business Consulting Corporation (SBCC).

“It used to be 90 percent of research and development came out of the military and was funneled to the public, like new computers and GPS,” said Goodfellow. “Now it’s flipped, and 92 percent is done on the commercial market. It’s very difficult to move that technology onto a military platform. The Air Force has tried with new initiatives, and yet the immediate technology isn’t there. And I said, this needs to be solved where the people doing the warfighting and thinking about the way things work can have a hand in this.” 

SBCC is primarily composed of prior operational and advising professionals, including veterans, educators, and tech startup founders with over 200 years of joint military experience. These members drive a unique understanding of both the priorities and processes of the military procurement system, often because they performed these functions while working together in the Air Force, as is the case for SBCC’s Chief Operations Officer Brigadier General (Ret.) Eric Froehlich and Vice President & Executive Director Austin Delorme. 

“We found a whole bunch of those people that have always been willing to push,” continued Goodfellow. “Problem is that they’ve always had to push on their own, and then all of a sudden you have the Eric Froehlichs and Austin Delormes of the world who always were willing to push and believe things could be better working together. These people are all of the same making, so we’ve manned up a whole company with those kinds of people. It’s making a difference.”

To achieve their integration objectives, SBCC has created a collaborative effort called The Commercial Capabilities Integration Hub (CCIH) with AFGSC, BRF’s Entrepreneurial Accelerator Program (EAP) in Shreveport, La., and additional companies around the country. CCIH facilitates delivery of technology solutions to Air Force Global Strike Command by acting as tech scouts, acquisition and contracting experts, IP consultants, and business accelerators, with a current emphasis on mission enhancing capabilities. 

The primary conduit for these solutions is the Commercial Capabilities Showcase, which invites private sector businesses to submit their technology for review in the interest of developing a relationship with the DoD. Finalists pitch their solutions to a live panel of Air Force Global Strike Command and Commercial Capabilities Integration Hub leaders, and selectees are given the expert advisory and assistance services needed to begin the transition journey, at no cost to the selected business. This is a key aspect of SBCC, which differentiates them from other business consulting services. As government contractors, SBCC performs these focused activities on behalf of Air Force Global Strike Command so that 100 percent of awarded grants remain with chosen portfolio companies.

“I just came to believe there was a capability that we needed in the Air Force with regard to integration and transition of technology that I don’t think exists in the military, but I had an idea of what it would look like and that’s what became the Commercial Capabilities Integration Hub,” remarked Goodfellow.

In their freshman year, CCIH screened over 300 tech companies and secured $29 million in Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants for their Showcase selectees in addition to $15 million in matched private capital funds. They also have one GSA Phase III IDIQ project in the works and two awarded Phase III SBIRs. With its first anniversary on April 1, the SBCC has grown to 50 full and part-time employees, ushered 23 private sector businesses through the government contracting process, and launched additional lines of effort to improve capabilities for the B-52 and augment education courses for Air Force Global Strike Command. 

Goodfellow knew that a technology accelerator was integral to assist young tech companies in the earliest development stages. He was drawn to EAP because, in his words, “it is a really fine technology accelerator located in Shreveport-Bossier, with Global Strike Command in its backyard.” At BRF and EAP, we want to help build a defense industry around Barksdale Air Force Base. It was this desire to see economic development in the region that made BRF, EAP and SBCC ideal partners. Not only is SBCC looking to establish a physical presence in North Louisiana, but they also hope many of the companies they work with will see the advantage of operating near Air Force Global Strike Command and set up shop in North Louisiana near Barksdale Air Force Base.

Dave Smith, Executive Director of EAP

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