Prove your worth as a partner

Partnership has been the central
ethos for Ace Info Solutions Inc.
since Jay Challa founded the business
in his basement in 2001.

The first few months were tough as
Challa and Nar Koppula hammered out a
business plan. Challa took on the task of
getting the company started, while
Koppula continued to work for another
company until Ace Info was off the ground.

"We had the vision and the goal but no
clients," Koppula said.

That changed after they met executives
at Employment Enterprises Inc., a human
resources support company that was having
trouble generating financial and budget
reports. Challa and Koppula offered to
do a free one-week analysis, and if the
company liked the analysis, it would hire
Ace Info.

The strategy worked. Employment
Enterprises hired them, and they are still
clients seven years later, despite never signing
a contract. They were hired and continued
working for the company with only
a handshake agreement.

The element of trust between Ace Info
and its partners and clients has been a critical
element of the company's success,
Challa said.

Today, the Reston, Va., company is
ranked No. 13 on Washington Technology's
Fast 50 list of the fastest growing small
businesses with $14 million in 2007 revenue
and a five-year
annual growth
rate of 125.69
percent. The
company focuses
on providing software
infrastructure and
network security, program management,
program and administrative support, and
security support services.

One of Ace Info's early partners was CGI
Federal, with which it worked on an
Environmental Protection Agency contract.

To win over CGI, "we analyzed the
request for proposals and explained to
them how we could win," Challa said. "We
told them, 'This is our solution, and we
should have this rate. We need these certifications.
The proposal should include
these things.' And after an hour and a half,
they were convinced."

To form its partnership with ManTech
International Corp., Ace Info showed how
the partnership was beneficial for both.
The companies they have worked together
on Transportation Security Administration
and Defense Department contracts. For TSA, Ace Info is the prime contractor and
brought in ManTech for its experience
with adjudication systems. For the DOD
contract, ManTech recognized Ace Info's
corporate skills and was willing to help the
company gain experience with DOD,
which it didn't have.

"It has to be a mutually beneficial relationship,"
Challa said. "We can never go
and talk to a company and say, 'Give us a
piece of work because we are qualified.'
That doesn't work. We have to explain why
it is beneficial for them and why it is beneficial
for us."

About the Author

Nick Wakeman is the editor-in-chief of Washington Technology. Follow him on Twitter: @nick_wakeman.

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