Small government contractors won’t have to do it alone anymore.
On Tuesday Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), helped cut the ribbon to formally launch the Eastern Foundry, a project of former Marine Geoff Orazem.
“I don’t think the government gets the full value” of potential contractors, said Warner, who made his fortune brokering cell phone license deals.
Open since late November, the Crystal City incubator caters to tech entrepreneurs, often veterans, seeking federal government contracts.
Warner also cracked a few self-deprecating jokes. “Last month I almost returned to the business sector,” he said, referring to his recent close-shave reelection.
Geoff Orazem, the tall and suave founder and CEO, described the convoluted government contracting process that drew him to create the incubator.
“It’s a byzantine process to get through the door,” he told Technical.ly DC. “The informational asymmetries are dramatic.”
The Eastern Foundry will allow small business owners to share their observations, advice and frustrations over the water cooler.
Camaraderie, yes. Open space, not quite. “They’re all working on proprietary data,” explained Eastern Foundry chief marketing officer Kyle Stelma. That’s why most of the space is occupied by 72 closed, mostly one-to-two person offices.
But the Eastern Foundry will have all the other trappings of a tech incubator: phone lines, WiFi, coffee, candy and Mountain Dew. (No beer on tap here, as far as we know.)
And it will also offer members access to a network of legal and business development consultants — key resources for small business owners wading through the complex process of applying for and retaining contracts.
In late January, the Eastern Foundry will offer a government contracting bootcamp to its first class. The intensive paperwork filing session should whittle down the registration process from several months to a little over a week, said Stelma.
Members will also be able to host events on the tenth floor overlooking the Washington Reagan National Airport. Eventually, it might also house a Veterans Training Center, Stelma said.
Memberships start on average at $800 per person per month, with possibilities for virtual tenancies. The incubator has already filled up 80 percent of capacity. It may likely become another key piece of Crystal City’s ascendency as a regional tech hub.
The incubator spans 21,000 square feet on the fourth floor of 2011 Crystal Drive, a space leased by Vornado Realty Trust, whose president Mitchell Schear also spoke at the ceremony.
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