Earn a track record

Established in the metro Atlanta
area in 1990 by four graduates of
India's Indian Institute of
Technology, Vector Consulting Inc. provides
information technology workforce
solutions and services. The company ranks
No. 20 on the 2008 Fast 50 list, with a
five-year compound annual growth rate of
102.72 percent.

Vector initially sought commercial customers
for its project management,
human resources recruitment, process
improvement and outsourcing services.

"While we were extremely successful with
commercial clients, the longevity of contracts
with commercial clients
sometimes was fairly short,"
said Sanjay Agrawala,
Vector's co-founder and chief
executive officer.

Following the advice of
other entrepreneurs, Vector
won 8(a) status as a small,
disadvantaged business in
1996. "That's what exposed us to the government
side of contracting," Agrawala
said.

Still, it took several years for Vector to
begin to make its mark in the federal government.
"8(a) [status] is an enabler, not
a charity, if you will," he added. The company
graduated out of the program in
2005.

Teaming with large contractors gave
the company a cost-efficient entrée into
the market. Initially, Vector acted as a
subcontractor to larger companies that
were looking for 8(a) partners.

As the work increased, Vector began to
approach government agencies directly.
Its government contracting today is nearly
evenly split between state and
federal contracts, he said. The
company's clients include the
General Services
Administration, the Fish and
Wildlife Service, and the
Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention.

"Now that we have some kind
of a track record and people know us, it's
easier for us to get [government] business,"
he said, adding that if the company
continues to thrive in the federal market
it will expand its presence in northern
Virginia into a fully staffed office. "If we
are going to take our success and build on
it, we would need a local presence."

Agrawala's advice to new companies
trying to make inroads in the federal
marketplace is to have patience and perseverance.
"I've learned the hard way," he
said. "You get 8(a) status, and you think
all of a sudden the floodgates will open. It
doesn't happen that way. Make sure
you're there for the long haul."

About the Author

David Hubler is the former print managing editor for GCN and senior editor for Washington Technology. He is freelance writer living in Annandale, Va.

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