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GT Blog Analysis, insights, and general musings on government contracting.
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We were stoked to find out today that we have been selected for the upcoming DC Tech Cocktail Startup Showcase. The gig is on the 28th of Feb at 1776 and we are all super jazz hands about getting to throw down about hōrd.
A friend of mine passed along an interesting blog post by Chris Dixon - notable internet technologist and entrepreneur. The post is about the process of technological revolution, and how it occurs in cycles of installation and deployment. Within those macro phases are iterations of entrepreneurial activity moving further up the stack as technologies mature and enjoy mass adoption.
Sure...this is a pretty lame, obscure, and generic thought. However, in the increasingly competitive world of government contracting, it is a reality. Whether you're seeing sinking margins because of the competition, the looming sequestration, or a rough patch of lost opportunities, the concept of "less" is staring you dead in the eye. One of the reasons we built hōrd is to help you defiantly stare back.
GovTribe believes in the power of open government data. In fact, we built our entire business on it. However, as we continue to expand our data sources to deliver the right information to you, there can be bumps in the road. Since we expect transparency from the government, it is only fair we provide a level of transparency into our operations.
Specifically, I mean the process by which people who care about opportunities with the US Government, are informed of important events. For the most part, this is caused by totally unnecessary process intermediaries. These intermediaries come in various incarnations, ranging from people whose sole responsibility is to watch/listen to FBO (or other websites), to dedicated "business developers" who roam the halls of potential client's buildings. To be clear, the people themselves are not the issue. It is the awkward and technologically arcane process they are forced to work within.
GovTribe is interested in democratizing government data. Our first product, hōrd was designed to do just that. We give everyone the ability to quickly access useful government procurement information, from a mobile device, both online and off. We turn RFPs and RFIs into information humans are interested in, like Notices, Topics and Organizations. We let you add these things to your hōrd so that you can keep track of your favorite USAID Mission, contracting officer, or competitor. We price it at 4 bucks so that anyone can buy it. We want people to make their own technology choices and be in the know, the minute something happens.
"The life of a programmer is mostly a never-ending struggle. Solving problems in an always-changing technical landscape means that programmers are always learning new things. In this case, 'learning new things' is a euphemism for 'battling against our own ignorance.'" Hillegass, Aaron (2011-11-22). Objective-C Programming: The Big Nerd Ranch Guide (Big Nerd Ranch Guides) (p. 4). Pearson Education (US). Kindle Edition.
Entrepreneur. Futurist. Clairvoyant. Narcissist. Incisive product developer. Call me what you will, but I think you'll want what we've built. I hope I'm right. This is a position that's relatively new to me, though I realize that many, many an upstart have been here. I've made something and I'm going out on a limb on the hypothesis that enough people will want to buy it. So why do I think that?
So...as you all know, we recently released our first product, hōrd. During said launch, we tweeted the only USAID Mission who was following us on Twitter about the capabilities of hōrd. They were kind enough to engage so we thought we would use some of the data we harvested to provide a little insight into their world. So here you go, USAID Timor-Leste...thanks for the tweet.
One of the more interesting processes I was exposed to during my career as a government contractor was that of 'business development." I participated in more pursuits than I care to remember and they always had this sort of Highland games feel. There were people performing great feats of professional strength, such as working all night to develop an acronym list or missing a holiday to correct the grammar of a so-called luminary. Communication seemed to occur over the digital equivalent of a bullhorn and pipe bands of reviewers marched hither and yon, belting out familiar guidance written ages ago. For all intents and purposes, the people were "modern", but man-o-man was the game itself pretty 11th century.
Curious about federal procurement data? So are we. Actually, it's one of the main reasons we founded GovTribe. Also, it is the foundation for our first product, hōrd. Agency spending data is far too difficult to find, understand, and track. To help ease the process, and maybe even make it interesting, we've launched a series of blog posts on the spending habits of different agencies - Agency Insight.
As of yesterday, the GovTribe private beta is closed. As this is our first of such events, I wanted to reflect a bit on the process, the tools, and the results. All in, I was pretty pleased with the way it turned out. As GovTribe grows, I expect we will continue to use this approach to early testing with actual users. In general, it gave us a nice mix of input from our target customers, as well as feedback from informed iPhone app consumers that may not be in the business of government contracting.
"Son...when this is all over, you need to have some hard skills." This is what my father said to me before I departed for an exhilarating undergraduate experience at my now alma mater, Indiana University. I nodded in violent agreement at his academic sentiment, while my mind swam with the possibilities of more...social achievements. Hard skills, eh? Well, ok Pops. I'll get right on that.