Learn how one veteran-turned-entrepreneur founded her own tech company to help other small businesses achieve their goals.
After receiving an honorable discharge from the U.S. Navy, my plans were to go to school to complete my master's degree. Unfortunately, however, I ran into a few issues with my education benefits, and I was forced to find a job.
I soon began working at a pharmaceutical company selling medical supplies to the U.S. government. That allowed me to see the opposite side of the procurement cycle, as, previously, I'd managed and purchased weapons for my department while on active duty.
Find your passion.
I found myself at a crossroads because I didn't feel fulfilled in my current position, and I wanted to do something different and make a real difference. That's when I decided to appeal the denial of my education benefits and find another job.
I went to CareerSource Broward's website to search for opportunities and saw the headline "Have you ever wanted to start your own business?" Yes, I thought to myself, it's true; I always found myself intrigued by business, and I'd completed my bachelor's in business management while serving. I was also always working on different side hustles. To earn extra money while I was stationed in Japan, I'd purchased a sewing machine to sew the chevrons and rockers on military uniforms when fellow sailors made rank.
I applied to Broward College's Start-Up Now program and was accepted. The dilemma was that I had absolutely no idea what type of business I wanted to start, so I played around with a few ideas. The first one was called Art of Love; it was a casting and molding company that allowed customers to immortalize memories by creating personalized molds, such as baby feet or a pregnant mother's tummy. But through interviews with potential customers, there was not enough need or want for the product, so I pivoted.
My next idea was PopUp Bee, a pop-up space locator, allowing users to find a lease space to host pop-up shops. Market research determined there were businesses in the market heavily funded working on this solution.
My first two ideas did not pan out, and I was perfectly fine with the results, because it helped me figure out what would and would not work. Failure is the best lesson.
Discouraged but determined to complete the program, I went to my instructor, Nancy Leve. I expressed my dilemma and asked for advice. She told me, "Stick to something you know is a problem. Try to solve a problem you are having at home or work."
At the time, I was still working at the pharmaceutical company, so I thought of the government-contracting process and how I could help underserved businesses get into the space. I also thought about the millions of dollars being spent at the state and local levels that local businesses were missing out on.
Execute like never before.
GovLia was born and the interviews began. I reached out to small business owners, contracting officers, supplier diversity managers and larger companies to gain more insight into their needs. The solution was simple, but the components that went into it were complex. Every state and local agency operates in a decentralized manner, and requirements and regulations vary.
Our solution simplifies the process for small businesses, allowing them to create one profile, one time, to register with multiple state and local entities. It also allows government agencies to maintain their decentralized status while operating on a centralized platform that manages the entire procurement process from registration to payment.
Our mission is to increase economic opportunities for small and women-, veteran-, and minority-owned businesses by helping them grow through doing business with the government. As a direct result of the business success, it will impact the communities they represent and support.
There is no traditional route.
There is no traditional route to success or happiness. Everyone's journey will be different; the most important thing is that you keep fighting. In the face of unforeseen circumstances, adversity, failure and successes, be resilient!