Small businesses showcase their skills on 2019 Fast 50

The Fast 50 showcases some of the market's best and most skilled small businesses that provide agencies everything from acquisition support to high-end consulting.

The 2019 Fast 50 is a real showcase of the skills and capabilities of small businesses across the government.

From the No. 1 company -- AbleVets LLC of Chantilly, Virginia with a five-year compound annual growth rate of 368.7 percent -- all the way down to No. 50 Obsidian Solutions Group of Fredericksburg, Virginia with a CAGR of 32 percent.

There are many companies that fit into the broad category of IT services. But as you dig a little deeper into their capabilities, you’ll find companies doing highly technical and highly skilled work.

For example, No. 32 Brillient Corp. of Reston, Virginia is leveraging artificial intelligence tools and mastering robotic process automation to serve its customers.

Several companies are providing high-end consulting and research work. Research Innovations Inc. (No. 43) is doing research-and-development work and specialized software development. One of its customers is the Defense Innovation Unit.

Others such as Black Spoke (No. 21) provide customers with subject matter experts that can support classified and intelligence customers with skills such as systems design and engineering.

Some keywords that pop up among many of the Fast 50 companies are the cloud, cloud migration, IT modernization, software development and IT support.

AbleVets was ranked No. 3 last year in its Fast 50 debut. And given its name, the company is a service-disabled, veteran-owned company as are 10 other firms on the Fast 50.

Veteran-owned businesses aren’t the most represented small business category on this year's Fast 50. That distinction falls to 8(a) small businesses, held by 21 companies on the list. Fourteen companies are woman-owned small businesses and eight are HUBzone firms.

Many companies on the list hold multiple designations. For example, Agil3 Technology Solutions is an 8(a), woman-owned and service-disabled, veteran-owned small business.

To be eligible for the Fast 50, a company must be in one of the categories recognized by the Small Business Administration.

It’s also important to note that different work categories have different thresholds for measuring a small business. Some are passed solely on revenue while others are based on the number of employees.

In that area, companies on the list have a wide-range of sizes, from a large of 500 employees at Brillient to 10 at FedBiz IT Solutions. FedBiz also holds a post on the NASA SEWP V contract, which gives it a power vehicle for sales. The company is primarily in the IT hardware and software business.

This year’s Fast 50 also highlights a trend we see across the broader market -- general growth.

Looking at just their 2018 revenue, the Fast 50 companies had $1.4 billion in government work, compared to $1.1 billion (2017 revenue) for the 2018 Fast 50 companies. In the 2017 Fast 50, the total for their 2016 revenue was $585.2 million.

While the companies on the list change significantly from year to year, the trend still holds that the market has grown in the last few years after nearly half a decade of being stagnant.

That’s good news for the Fast 50 and other small businesses in the market. As indicated by the skill sets of the Fast 50, government buyers are increasing interested in agility and leading edge technologies such as AI and machine learning.

We’ll dive deeper into the Fast 50 over the next few weeks as we explore more of what some of the individual companies are doing in the market.