What “they” don’t want you to know about finding a job…
The first 2016 Department of Defense SBIR solicitation was released yesterday offering tens of millions of dollars for defense-related technology R&D projects. There will be 3 or 4 more solicitations during 2016.
I described the SBIR program in this post. This money is restricted to small businesses of 500 employees or less.
The Army RFP (”Request for Proposals”) alone has nearly 100 topics. At $100K per topic and with multiple awards often given, that could represent nearly $15 Million in grant money available to small companies.
Why SBIR is a Great Opportunity for You
You can learn how to use the SBIR program to make money. Whether you are seeking technology employment or already working in a tech company, you can read through the solicitation, match topics to your expertise, and connect with men in your industry who can partner with you to win that funding.
I have written SBIR proposals that led to work in my industry. After finding topics that local companies had related technologies or expertise in, I contacted the key players in each company and offered to write a proposal for the topics. I helped them team up with larger companies who could offer “moral” support that the DoD contract office like to see in proposals.
If you are already working in a tech company this is a way for you to get noticed and maybe help win funding, which has profound effects on your career. For he who brings money into the organization can do whatever he wants. You may only need to scan the solicitation for topics relating to your company and let your top-level managers know about them. If you do nothing else this will earn you a few brownie points. If you think you have the chops, offer to help them put together a proposal. You are suddenly not just another tech flunky but a potential earner and candidate for higher office.
Transform Yourself to Alpha Status by Winning a SBIR Grant
And SBIR is like no other, for even a dweeb who writes a compelling and plausible proposal can win $100K to pull off the R&D. If it goes to Phase II, the award is $1Million. In my case I had been shitcanned from Encorpera and was thus a nobody, a loser. I was invisible to workplace women. But I read through the SBIR solicitation and found a topic about military aircraft repainting needs. I wrote a proposal to develop a hand-held instrument that used “AI” to determine the drying status of fresh paint. Unbelievably, the company I wrote it for received an award and I was an instant hero. The cleavage displays returned with a vengeance, like the sudden eruption of a long-dormant genital virus.
I got a corner office. But due to my intemperate behavior, the progress of the R&D was lackluster and I did not get a Phase II. It didn’t matter. I was now an “earner”, and it made a huge difference in how I approached companies in the future. The fact that I had won a SBIR positioned me as a guy who could do the crucial sales and marketing that tech companies must have to survive.
Many small companies can’t afford to have full-time marketing staff. If you are a technical person and can demonstrate sales capability as well then you are a valuable and sought-after resource.
How to Use SBIR to Satisfy Your Needs
Enough chatter. Go to the DoD SBIR site and start scanning the topics. They are offered in HTML, PDF, or Word format.As you can see below, there are 9 DoD agencies participating.
The first 10 pages or so for agency are instructions, very important but ignore for now. You want to look at the topics.
Here are the first few topics for the Navy solicitation :
There are 72 Navy topics and lot of technological variety. When you see one that is relevant to you, go to that topic and read it. It will describe what they are looking for and provide background information to help you develop a proposal.
Typically the Phase I objectives are to simply demonstrate a technology to justify potential Phase II award. Before the proposal selection phase (from now until February 16, 2016), you have the opportunity to ask the topic managers (called “TPOCs”, Technical Point of Contact) specific questions on technical requirements. This is also the time you would be building a team and getting letters of support from larger companies.
There are a number of finer points about formatting and submitting the proposal that I will cover in future essays. For now concentrate on matching DoD needs to your expertise or to other companies that will team with you. If you are just looking for a job, find topics that companies in your industry have a strong chance at and send them an email link. It’s a clever way to introduce yourself and massage them towards giving you work, as described in my book Employment Game.