The Entrepreneur Forum | Startups | Entrepreneurship | Starting a Business | Motivation | Success

NOTABLE! Selling products to the military.

InspireHD

Silver Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Dec 9, 2014
336
805
316
36
The government buys almost everything you can think of and a lot of things you couldn't.
This is a broad question, but what are some things the government wants to buy but can’t find a source for?

Other than DIBBS, are there any other sources of open contracts waiting for bids? I know a ton go unawarded.
 

Jonathan Hoch

Bronze Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Jan 17, 2019
156
308
170
This is a broad question, but what are some things the government wants to buy but can’t find a source for?

Other than DIBBS, are there any other sources of open contracts waiting for bids? I know a ton go unawarded.
I had the same question, and then I started googling for Government RFQ, and a ton of resources started popping up that showcase all kinds of contracts looking to be filled. One was a database of 26,000 RFQ.

Check this out

Find and Pursue Government Contracts
 

rockit11

New Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Nov 18, 2015
5
13
19
30
Langley AFB, Virginia
The primary place to look, at least for Department of Defense Contracts, is FBO.gov. It was even in that movie War Dogs haha. I couldn't believe anyone knew enough about my job to have it in a movie. The things you couldn't think of are proprietary developmental contracts or secret products. But the DOD buys a lot of both commercially available and non-commercial (military specific) products, services, and construction. Got a landscaping business? Bid on doing work for the local base. You'll need to register in the system for award management (SAM). If you have a Small Business Administration (SBA) office near you (every state does) they also can help get you set up. By the way, the government sets aside many contract awards for small businesses only. I have awarded many millions of dollars in contracts. Government contracting seems really cryptic but it's actually not... Granted it's taken years to learn the nuances but winning awards comes down to following instructions. It's not the same way you'd try to win business with a company. We have to follow the rules and play fair to everyone that bids.
 

rockit11

New Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Nov 18, 2015
5
13
19
30
Langley AFB, Virginia
This is a broad question, but what are some things the government wants to buy but can’t find a source for?

Other than DIBBS, are there any other sources of open contracts waiting for bids? I know a ton go unawarded.
Things we can't find a source for... One thing to look for is RFIs (request for information). This is one of the primary ways we do market research. We'll send these out if we're looking to see if a business capability exists for a need we have. These also go up on FBO.gov. You don't send a bid for these, just basically reply indicating that you believe that's something we can do or, we can definitely do that type of work/ product/ service.
 

Ernman

Silver Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Feb 8, 2019
370
639
262
59
Florida, USA
I had never heard of the SBIR before and I'm glad I stumbled upon this thread because I'm now in the process of applying for a DoD contract. Thanks for sharing this with us so we can all benefit!
Johnny - I've more experience in SBIR's than I'd like to admit. Please keep us updated on your progress. Have you looked at the new OTA process?
 

Ernman

Silver Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Feb 8, 2019
370
639
262
59
Florida, USA
The primary place to look, at least for Department of Defense Contracts, is FBO.gov. It was even in that movie War Dogs haha. I couldn't believe anyone knew enough about my job to have it in a movie. The things you couldn't think of are proprietary developmental contracts or secret products. But the DOD buys a lot of both commercially available and non-commercial (military specific) products, services, and construction. Got a landscaping business? Bid on doing work for the local base. You'll need to register in the system for award management (SAM). If you have a Small Business Administration (SBA) office near you (every state does) they also can help get you set up. By the way, the government sets aside many contract awards for small businesses only. I have awarded many millions of dollars in contracts. Government contracting seems really cryptic but it's actually not... Granted it's taken years to learn the nuances but winning awards comes down to following instructions. It's not the same way you'd try to win business with a company. We have to follow the rules and play fair to everyone that bids.
Spot on rockit11
 

InspireHD

Silver Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Dec 9, 2014
336
805
316
36
The primary place to look, at least for Department of Defense Contracts, is FBO.gov. It was even in that movie War Dogs haha. I couldn't believe anyone knew enough about my job to have it in a movie. The things you couldn't think of are proprietary developmental contracts or secret products. But the DOD buys a lot of both commercially available and non-commercial (military specific) products, services, and construction. Got a landscaping business? Bid on doing work for the local base. You'll need to register in the system for award management (SAM). If you have a Small Business Administration (SBA) office near you (every state does) they also can help get you set up. By the way, the government sets aside many contract awards for small businesses only. I have awarded many millions of dollars in contracts. Government contracting seems really cryptic but it's actually not... Granted it's taken years to learn the nuances but winning awards comes down to following instructions. It's not the same way you'd try to win business with a company. We have to follow the rules and play fair to everyone that bids.
War Dogs is one of my favorite movies and gave me inspiration to go out and try. I felt like a fraud, though. I had nothing to sell. I closed the business recently after only winning 2 contracts. I was solely searching one manufacturer on DIBBS. It was a race to the lowest bid. Was I willing to take a 1% margin just to win the contract? Sure. I was told, "In the beginning, you're just trying to get into their system." It was a process of starting with tiny contracts to then build up.

My first contract won, I lost money because the shipment to me came from two different places and I got charged shipping twice. My second contract I won, I profited $10, which put me back into the positive by $7. And this was maybe a 3% profit margin. There was no room for error.

My imagination was that I would find the contracts that nobody was bidding on and go out there and source the products. Can't find a specific radio? Sure, I found a guy who sells them down in Alabama. Need 50 of whatever? Oh yeah, I was digging around and found someone in Idaho who is the only person in the country who supplies them. He had no idea you wanted them.

But the reality? I sold nothing and manufactured nothing. "Hey Dept. of X, I'm reaching out to you as a supplier." "What do you sell?" "Well.....nothing, but I can source whatever you need!" That was the fraud in me. It didn't feel right.

It was easy to go on DIBBS and pick a source cage code and bid on 10 contracts a day, but trying to navigate the government codes and packaging, etc. and try to do it right was a little difficult. When 20 companies are bidding on 1 contract and everyone is quoting pennies, I just didn't see it as sustainable. A family member of mine used to work in a company who supplied to the government doing something similar and they did $16 million in revenue in one year. I couldn't wrap my head around it going down the route I went -- feeling like I didn't belong.

For the most part, even for the small business set-asides, does the government even care where the items come from? I mean, if they want a specific office chair, do they care that I went out and sourced it from Staples and added a 30% profit margin on top of that and then reshipped it to them? I don't actually manufacture office chairs, but I can find one.
 

Johnny Bravo

Bronze Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Feb 20, 2018
58
107
129
40
US
Johnny - I've more experience in SBIR's than I'd like to admit. Please keep us updated on your progress. Have you looked at the new OTA process?
I haven't actually heard of that before now. I'm wondering if the program I submitted my proposal to is within the OTA. The entire process from bid submission to contract award is only one month.

I'll know if I'm invited to the next stage by this coming Friday.

Sent from my SM-G950U1 using Tapatalk
 

Ocean Man

Asia's trailblazer
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Sep 26, 2018
151
175
145
Holy cow! I’m literally jumping with excitement for you in the café as I’m reading this. Can’t wait to hear more updates and you’re a go-getter!
 
OP
OP
Mile

Mile

Bronze Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Apr 24, 2018
32
208
149
30
It's been a while since my last post. I´ve been improving and presenting my prototype to different military officers and forces. The MOD contract helps here a lot. Next month will be the final stage testing. Hopefully, everything works out. The aim is to present the actual product at the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) arms fair in september that is held every two years in London.

Some lessons that I have learned:
1) The real entry barrier is knowing people.
2) Universities are interested in participating in innovative projects.
3) Make sure that you know the law.
4) Design standard solutions to your product.
5) Wear olive green clothes.

I will keep you informed.
 

Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum. Subscribe.

OP
OP
Mile

Mile

Bronze Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Apr 24, 2018
32
208
149
30
Final stage testing went well. The weather was sunny and the CNC milled product worked flawlessly. Everyone was happy. So I went to a company, that produces plastic injection molds and showed the CNC milled parts to them hoping that the long CAD drawing nights would be finally over. It turns out that plastic injection molding has its limits and out of 22 parts, they are able to produce only 14.

For the past month, I have been redesigning those critical parts. Changing one part affected another and so on. I was constantly thinking about how to solve those design problems. It was a dead end. One night I asked my girlfriend how she would solve the design issue.

"Hmm. Wait!" she said.

She brought her wristwatch and showed me how the lock works. And out of the blue, the eureka moment came. I was back on the highway. A couple of CAD nights and it was DONE!

The road has been frustrating and it will probably continue this way, but I think it is worth it.

I guess T. Harv Eker is right- "If you are willing to do only what’s easy, life will be hard. But if you’re willing to do what’s hard, life will be easy"
 

AgainstAllOdds

Legendary Contributor
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
Dec 26, 2014
1,938
11,430
2,426
27
Chicago, IL
Your progress is exciting.

Do you have a patent or anything that will protect you in different countries?
 
OP
OP
Mile

Mile

Bronze Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Apr 24, 2018
32
208
149
30
Your progress is exciting.

Do you have a patent or anything that will protect you in different countries?
When starting with this project I was fortuned enough to talk to some people that are in that kind of business. They said:
1) a patent will help but the real aim should be to saturate the market as fast as possible.
2)the high entry barrier cancels out most of the competition.
3)there are some countries, to whom I can not sell this product.
 

Elbert Dockery

Bronze Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Feb 21, 2017
142
134
83
Chicago
WOW. so much info in this thread. Im very glad I found this. Besides selling my business and landing a big licensing deal. Gov contracting is an amazing thing to think about venturing.

My question is do all countries have these types of programs like the US for business owners to sell to the gov?
 

Create an account or login to comment

You must be a member in order to leave a comment

Create account

Create an account on our community. It's easy!

Log in

Already have an account? Log in here.



Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum. Subscribe to become an INSIDER.

Post New Topic

Please SEARCH before posting.
Please select the BEST category.

Post new topic

New Topics

Fastlane Insiders

View the forum AD FREE.
Private, unindexed content
Detailed process/execution threads
Monthly conference calls with doers
Ideas needing execution, more!

Join Fastlane Insiders.

Top Bottom