The Catalyst Government Business Boot Camp launched June 14-23. This two-week event was sponsored by the Small Business Administration’s SBIR/STTR office and United States Air Force Research Laboratory Space Vehicles Directorate. The Boot Camp was geared toward helping tech-based startups and small businesses that have not formerly worked with government, particularly Department of Defense, learn how to do so effectively. The Catalyst Accelerator team chose six amazing small businesses to participate in the Boot Camp. Preference was given to veteran-owned, women-owned, and minority-owned businesses or those located in Hub Zones.
Over the course of the inaugural Boot Camp, the companies were guided by various subject matter experts. Some of the programming topics included understanding DoD and other government agencies, meeting the requirements to do business with the government, how to navigate the system, understanding government contracts, data rights and compliance, and more! Stephanie Hutch from the cohort company, Makai, explained, “The Catalyst Government Business Boot Camp was an educational and rewarding experience. Having the opportunity to interact with defense experts and active-duty operators was invaluable. The Catalyst Accelerator team members were professional, accommodating, and worked hard to fill our days with quality group training and one-on-one sessions. I would strongly recommend this Boot Camp to anyone new to government contracting or anyone looking to better understand the Space Force organizational structure and mission sets.”
Sixty subject matter experts spoke with the cohort throughout the two-week event. One of these experts included Mo Kanwischer of Momentum Business Consulting. Mo provided incredible briefings about customer discovery with the government, ABC statements, go-to-market strategy, and pitching to the government. She explained, “The Catalyst Government Business Boot Camp is a one-of-a-kind resource for small businesses. These six founders spent eight days following a rigorous agenda preparing them for commercialization of their products and services to sell to the government and industry. Topics such as conducting customer discovery and developing a value proposition help the founders develop their go-to-market strategy for the government while honing their messaging for commercial customers. With the Boot Camp learning under their belts, these companies have an edge when they enter the government segment.”
Capt Christie Rogers and Capt Craig Miles played integral roles in the Boot Camp. Capt Rogers is a GPS Payload Systems Operator for the United States Space Force, while Capt Miles is a Contracting Officer for the United States Air Force. They are also both members of AFRL/RV’s SPECTRE program. Together they provided an overview about the Department of Defense and its structure. They also discussed the various ways to contract with the government. Capt Miles mentioned, “I’ve had the opportunity to work with a few Accelerators and no one does it like the Catalyst Accelerator. They are the gold industry standard for accelerating small businesses, startups, and non-traditional contractors to grow their business and educate them on acquisitions with the government. Their programs aren’t easy, participating companies will get out what they put into the program, which is always a lot.”
The cohort had the opportunity to participate in a couple panel discussions including a Resource Panel and Warfighter Panel. Members of the Resource Panel included Vanessa Johnson with AFCEA, Greg Sears with SFA, Kathleen Gilspin with APEX, Colin Wylie with Catalyst Campus, Fred Taylor with Viasat, and Dennis Kater with The Smalls Colorado. Each of these individuals provided a five-minute overview of their organization and how each of the cohort companies could get involved. During the Warfighter Panel, three of our U.S. warfighters spoke to the Boot Camp cohort about their day-to-day tasks, pain points and what has worked well.
The cohort also participated in several fun activities outside of the classroom. A few of these activities included a Happy Hour sponsored by Microsoft, Colorado Springs speakeasy tour, and dinners at Ivywild and Rudy’s Bar-B-Q. A few of the cohort members even spent the weekend driving to the top of Pikes Peak and getting to know more about each other and the beauty that Colorado Springs has to offer. Lastly, they attended a fireside chat with the Honorable Sue Payton. Sue is the former Assistant Secretary for Acquisition for the United States Air Force and current owner of SCI Aerospace, Inc. She provided an unclassified security threat briefing and answered several of the cohort member’s questions. Bosco Lai, from the cohort company, Little Place Labs, stated, “The inaugural Catalyst Government Business Boot Camp was an amazing 8-day ride of excellent content, insights and inspirations. The agenda was extremely thoughtful and well executed by KiMar Gartman, Kathy Steen and the whole Catalyst Accelerator team. The speakers ranged from experts from the government and DoD ecosystem, support groups, to private companies that have been through many challenges and successes. Our fellow ‘change makers’ in the cohort forged wonderful bonds. Little Place Labs is honored to be part of the Boot Camp, and as the Honorable Sue Payton encouraged us in her keynote, we will utilize what we have learned and keep innovating to help make this world a safer and better place.”
The Boot Camp was a collaborative effort between the Hyperspace Challenge and Catalyst Accelerator, along with the National Security Innovation Network (NSIN) and the Colorado Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC). Kathy Steen, Senior Program Manager of Hyperspace Challenge and facilitator of the Boot Camp, mentioned, “The Boot Camp program introduced cohort members to 60 subject matter experts across 12 categories. While it was an intensive training to prepare them for the next steps in government contracting, the best part is the relationships they formed with each other, the subject matter experts, and industry guests. I am confident all the members have a foundational network that will continue to support and encourage them.” KiMar Gartman, Program Director of the Catalyst Accelerator, followed by stating, “This was our inaugural Catalyst Government Business Boot Camp designed to introduce companies to working with the US Government. We had six amazing cohort companies and were able to connect them with knowledgeable subject matter experts who helped them better understand the path forward into government contracting. Many thanks to the Small Business Administration’s Growth Accelerator Fund Competition which made this Boot Camp possible and to our many collaborators, including NSIN, Colorado PTAC, and AFRL/RV’s SPECTRE program.”
Cohort Companies Included:
KaizenRhino Solutions International Consultancy – https://krsi-19.com/ – KaizenRhino Solutions International Consultancy (Cheyenne, Wyoming) uses Systems Thinking and Human Centered Design skills to solve customer customed challenges and innovative forward-thinking challenges. Their current project is an applied SBE Social Behavioral Economics model application for a Space Ambulance-Medic-and Burial Plan for the coming Moon Colony. They are leading preparation for a Financial Manhattan Project to accelerate the end of the Ukraine War and Win Rebuild with maximum cost reductions by applying the best AI-Blockchain-STO designs.
Kall Morris Inc (KMI) – https://www.kallmorris.com/ – Kall Morris Inc (Marquette, Michigan) is efficiently removing and repurposing space debris for commercial and government customers. The massive opportunity is a $50B total market, which KMI is entering through their partnered NASA SBIR Phase II and multiple USSF Orbital Primes. The co-founders combine civilian space agency AI/ML, defense aerospace rapid prototyping, and commercial business development for an agnostic solution to an exponential problem. The first mission is scheduled for 2025, with KMI hard at work today on #KeepingSpaceClearForAll.
Little Place Labs – https://www.littleplace.com/ – Little Place Labs (Houston, Texas) is building software applications utilizing advanced machine learning techniques that can be deployed on remote sensing satellites optimized for the Space environment. This is also known as “Satellite Edge Computing” and will allow raw data to be processed immediately as it is captured, and insights to be developed in orbit. The outcome is quicker and more cost-effective delivery of critical insights to end-users for them to make data-driven decisions for applications like natural disaster detection, surveillance and monitoring, and other time-sensitive events.
Makai – https://www.makaidefense.com/ – Makai (Hopkinton, Massachusetts) specializes in the modernization of wired and wireless systems by strengthening and securing communications at the tactical edge. Makai has developed the Hardened Operational Networking Unit (HONU), a ruggedized communications device that leverages the power of 5G throughput and SATCOM backhaul. Makai’s Gemini 5G test lab is a vendor agnostic test facility located next to Hanscom AFB in Lincoln, MA. They are able to partner with any industry hardware or software vendor to develop network architectures and operational test scenarios to address national security challenges.
Orbital Services Corporation LLC (OSCorp) – https://www.orbitalservicescorporation.com/ – Orbital Services Corporation LLC (Melrose, Massachusetts) leverages dual-use state-of-the-art Guidance Navigation and Control (GNC) technologies and space robotics capabilities to enable complex, dynamic on-orbit Rendezvous and Proximity Operations (RPO). Their mission is to ensure a secure space domain through Active Debris Remediation (ADR) of hazardous spacecraft and Resident Space Objects (RSO) to protect US government and commercial space assets, and the services they provide, from disruption or degradation while building a sustainable space economy and enabling a wide range of On-orbit Servicing Assembly and Manufacturing (OSAM) use cases. They are developing Robust and Autonomous Relative Navigation Algorithms for Safe Approach Inspection and Docking of Non-Cooperative Spacecraft that were not previously feasible or viable. Combining their algorithms with space-qualified robotic arms, adaptive sensing capabilities, and grappling hardware components (interfaces, tools, fixtures), they are testing novel inspection, docking and grappling optimization techniques by modeling uncertainty, non-linear dynamics and time-varying constraints.
Secured Quantum Services (SQS) – https://www.sqs.world/ – Secured Quantum Services (Colorado Springs, Colorado) produces systems that optimize the national security of nations in their conduct of Digital Economic activity. They deliver ultra-premium security through the fusion of extremely high performance Digital and Quantum technologies with digital economic business modeling augmented by a Single Plane of digital governance and compliance. Their vision is a digital economy that brings nations together through digitally validated Trust and Transparency. They enable massive digital collaboration accelerating interaction and transaction to the scale of global economies. In the accomplishment of their mission, they seek to enable others to optimize their missions through safe, lower cost, and simplified technology consumption on the utility of the SQS Platform. SQS is building a fundamentally different architecture of premium compute production, professionally engineered, and operated, scalable across the globe and across space, theoretically without bounds. They envision a society enabled by technology comparable to other commercialized complex innovations such as electric power, aviation, and railway. On this system, they offer a new vision of economy enabled by digital systems delivering validated trust. It is thru the peace dividend of economic interaction that the potential for massive good is realized.
About Catalyst Accelerator
The Air Force Research Laboratory Space Vehicles Directorate and United States Space Force’s Catalyst Accelerator is a NewSpace-focused defense and national security industry accelerator, headquartered on the Catalyst Campus for Technology and Innovation (CCTI, a Colorado 501(c)3) in Colorado Springs, Colorado. CCTI is a collaborative ecosystem where industry, small business, entrepreneurs, startups, government, academia, and investors intersect with Colorado’s aerospace and defense industry to create community, spark innovation, and stimulate business growth.
Author: Kate Menendez, Catalyst Accelerator Marketing Specialist