After a year of pounding the NYC and NY State government pavement for contracts, we have won some nice contracts and were recently featured in a vendor spotlight at the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) M/WBE Contract Opportunity Meeting. The cliff notes for how we navigated these government agencies below. More to come if you like…
If you are a Minority / Women Owned Business, and do not know what M/WBE means, please continue reading and get certified! Everyone else – please read as well ?. The M/WBE certification has been an incredible opportunity for our business and thus have included some interesting points regarding it below as it may be a certification that you or someone you know should get for your business.
Portland Spreadworks, LLC dba Excel Rain Man has been certified as a Women Owned Business Enterprise (WBE) for almost 6 years. “Fun” facts:
- I (Jen Portland) used maternity leave with my first child to get these certifications in NYC and NY State for government contracts.
- We go by Portland Spreadworks with the government… cuz it seems more official!
Once you have your certification, that is Step 1.
Then what? My first roadblock was envisioning how we would fit into this sector. As our business is super niche (come on… how many genius spreadsheet outsourcing firms do you know?!?), we do not fit into the typical bucket for RFPs and commodity codes. So I did something not very me, I AVOIDED this industry sector for 4.5 years… that must win an award for procrastination.. NOPE!
Step 2: It’s time to hustle!! In March 2018 (4.5 years post-certification), I began to pound the pavement for these government contracts. I started this process by attending an M/WBE Contract Opportunity Meeting at DCAS (NYC Citywide Administrative Services). I learned about so many opportunities in this initial meeting and was basically given a road map for what to do:
- contact the ACCO’s (that stands for Agency Chief Contracting Officer) at every Agency… there are boatloads of them
- attend M/WBE procurement events… there is no shortage of FREE events to attend and meet key individuals at these agencies
- ask everyone who will have me, if i can show them demos of our work
- follow up, follow up, follow up (emails, calls, see them at events… eventually most of them got soooo sick of me, they just had to have me in to show them some sweet spreadsheets)
… so that is what I did the past year.
Step 3: Figure out where to play and go get some business! For now, we are not trying to compete on big RFPs, but we are certainly willing to sub with a prime vendor. Our real sweet spot has been in the small/discretionary Purchase Order areas… more on that to come!
In under 12 months, we have given demos @ boatloatds of agencies and prime vendor companies. … AND we have been awarded contracts with:
- Battery Park City Authority
- Brentwood Union Free School District
- NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
… and are close on contracts with a few other agencies.