Technology and Minority Entrepreneurship (Series 3)

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Minority Entrepreneurship Panel (Breakout Session)

SERIES 3 – DAY 2 NATIONAL PRESS CLUB
Technology and Minority Entrepreneurship

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Minority Entrepreneurship Breakout Session Attendees

Day 2 at the Summit continues after our morning panel: Access to Capital (Series 2). If you haven’t read Access to Capital (Series 2) yet please make sure that you do so because you are missing a treat. Next, as we move on to Series 3 you will hear about our breakout sessions. We had a plethora of morning and afternoon breakout sessions to choose from they ranged from Women’s Entrepreneurship, New Capital Opportunities: Crowdfunding, Freelance and Micro-Enterprise Economy, Workforce and Technology to Minority Entrepreneurship. These intimate specialized sessions were instrumental to us as business owners because they gave us the ability to work in small, concentrated groups to allow us an opportunity to voice our concerns.

In this series you will hear about the Minority Entrepreneurship and Technology Breakout Sessions that were personal to business owners Michelle and Todd Trotter of Trotter Industries, LLC and Remy Meraz of Maven Experience respectively. Michelle and Todd Trotter attended the Minority Entrepreneurship session which was facilitated by Rhea Aguinaldo, Manager of Entrepreneurship/Northern CA Outreach Manager (Small Business Majority); Christine Chin Ryan (Synergy Consulting, Inc); Marcia Davalos, National Hispanic Outreach Manager/Southern California Outreach Manager (Small Business Majority) and Tim Gaudette Colorado Outreach Manager (Small Business Majority).

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Michelle and Todd Trotter (Trotter Industries, LLC) Photo Courtesy: Trotter Industries, LLC

The Trotters had the opportunity to provide their experience as being a subcontractor in the janitorial industry. For them having the ability to have their voices heard was paramount for them in moving forward in their business. Access to government contracts is a concern of Samuel Hughes, President, Capital Real Estate Group, in his letter to me for the Summit. We hope that in hearing about the Trotter’s experience, as well as some tips from me will not only help Sam but you the reader in leverage this information:

We attended the Minority Entrepreneurship break out session and during the session the panel asked a question about bidding practices and what were some of the issues that we had experienced. We told them that the Janitorial Service industry has high competition, and we noticed that the same company always got the bid award every time the contract was up for renewal and/or bid. We’re inclined to think that maybe someone is getting paid under the table because this particular company has been awarded the same contract for 25 years. It’s unfair that we are certified as a minority business and we still have not been able to get awarded this contract. We provide quality services and this should mean something, not how much you can pay to get the contract.   We are the subcontractor for the prime and we do all of the work but do not get credit for it! As a subcontractor under this prime we buy all of the supplies to get the job done! After all that’s what’s done as a subcontractor, we were not given the opportunity to be a prime because the buyer believes that we are not big enough. Little does the buyer know is that we have the ability to operate as a prime because we are actually already doing it. We believe that this needs to change by giving more opportunities to subcontractors after they have been working on a contract with a prime after a few years.

We appreciated Michelle and Todd Trotter, Trotter Industries, LLC for taking out the time from their busy schedules to tell us about their experience at the Small Business Leadership Summit 2015. If you want to know more about them visit them at http://www.trotterindustries.net/, email trottermilwk@aol.com or call 414-446-1604.

Here are some questions that you should ask yourself to help leverage your business and to gain access to contracts with both government and corporate entities:

  1. Who are your top three ideal customer(s)?
  2. Do you know what it takes to partner with them (i.e. supplier diversity certification)?
  3. Do you have the products or services that interest them?
  4. Can you provide solutions for them with your products or services?
  5. Can you successfully provide the deliverables as required (i.e. local, State, regional or national)?
  6. How do you establish a relationship with your ideal customer(s) (i.e. call, register, etc)?
  7. Do you have a solid capability statement?

First, if you are unable to fully answer any of the questions thoroughly then you need to begin working from there. Secondly, like Marcus Lemonis (The Profit) says People, Process and Product determines your capabilities as a business owner. Lastly, people do business with those that they trust; this is why referrals and word-of-mouth is so effective in anything from philanthropy efforts, getting a job and choosing a restaurant to a vacation destination. Trust and relationships are instrumental in getting a contract just like anything else in life.

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Technology Breakout Session Photo Courtesy: Remy Meraz (Maven Experience)

Next, is the Technology Breakout session the panel included Jenny Backus, Google, Head of Strategic Outreach & Engagement; Senior Policy Advisor and Zachary Davis, The Glass Jar. Now let’s hear from Remy Meraz of Maven Experience as she tells us what the Technology session taught her as an ecommerce business owner:

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Remy Meraz (Maven Experience) Photo Courtesy: Remy Meraz (Maven Experience)

The biggest challenge I have faced as a tech startup is the lack of variety in Internet providers in my region and the unreliability of the telecommunications infrastructure in the US.   After doing some research, I have come to understand that the reason for this can be traced back to the laws currently in place.  Prior to launching my company, the Maven Experience, an online education and entertainment company, I never gave much thought to the importance of information technology services and/or providers. In fact, I took it for granted. When I worked in corporate, I had the convenience of relying on the IT department of the company I worked for. Now, when I have a service related issues, I must deal with my Internet provider, who are not always the most reliable or responsive to my needs. Now that I am running a startup that relies 100% on the Internet to operate and generate revenue, that telecom infrastructure has become a vital organ to scaling our business successfully.  Slow or zero access to the Internet can literally paralyze our operations for hours or days at a time, something we’ve experienced on a regular basis since launching in April.    It was encouraging to see that Google and policymakers have invested interest in the technology needs of small businesses.  Participating in the Technology breakout session has allowed me to look at and explore the laws and policies surrounding technology, telecommunications, and e-commerce and their effects on small businesses.  As small businesses continue to voice their needs, I hope the laws of our nation will evolve accordingly. The digital economy is here to stay and it is evolving at a rapid rate, quicker than the laws and policies are able to keep up.  It’s time for our policymakers to make this a priority. 

In the article it was mentioned about Google having a vested interest in helping small businesses and they are doing so with their introduction of Google Fiber. Google Fiber offers fast internet speed up to 1 gigabyte for about $100 per month. To find out more about Google Fiber or to see if the services are located in your area click here https://fiber.google.com/smallbusiness/.

If anyone is interested in learning more about Remy Meraz, Maven Experience visit www.mavenexperience.com, email remy@mavenexperience.com, or call 619.977.9626. You can also connect with her at Twitter: @remymeraz | @mavenexperience Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/themavenexperience.

What are some of your thoughts on the access to government or corporate contracts or prime vs subcontractor relationships? How has technology affected your business? We would love to hear from you? Of all of the submittals we will choose a few comments to post, will it be yours?

Connect with us @JEGroupBiz on Twitter, or Jabez Enterprise Group on LinkedIn or Facebook to see what we are doing next or to see your post. Don’t forget to pick up your copy of Get the Cheese, Avoid the Traps: An Interactive Guide to Government Contracting today.  

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Photo Courtesy: Dawson Imagery

Vernita Naylor
Founder/Owner Jabez Enterprise Group  (JEGroup)
Author, Get the Cheese, Avoid the Traps

All photos courtesy of Vernita Naylor, Jabez Enterprise Group (JEGroup) Unless Otherwise Noted.

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