Scaling Up with DoD Contracts – Harvinder Singh of Bestica

Harvinder Singh, President and CEO of Bestica

Harvinder Singh, President and CEO of Bestica, grew his company’s revenue from $2.5 million in 2014 to $8.5 million in 2017, a 237% increase, and to around $16 million in 2018.  

Bestica is a Dept. of Defense contractor.  

In this interview wth Eversprint‘s Malcolm Lui, Harvinder shares how he and his team accelerated their high value sales by:  

  • Recognizing that people in San Antonio and across Texas are relationship driven when it comes to business.  
  • Generating referrals via quality service.   
  • Hiring the right people who understand quality of delivery as well as each branch of the armed forces.  

Computer generated transcript - Bestica Interview (transcribed by Sonix)

Download the "Computer generated transcript - Bestica Interview" audio file directly from here. It was automatically transcribed by Sonix.ai below:

Malcolm Lui: Welcome to the High Value Sales Show of Eversprint.com. I'm Malcolm Lui, the Managing Member of Eversprint, and today we're speaking with Harvinder Singh, the President and CEO of Bestica, a Dept. of Defense contracting company.

Harvinder Singh: My pleasure.

Malcolm Lui: Harvinder, you grew your company's revenue from $2.5 million in 2014 to $8.5 million in 2017, a 237% increase, and in 2018 you hit around $16 million. Before we talk about how you grew your company so fast, can you briefly share what your company does beyond my quick intro and how your company differs from the competition?

Harvinder Singh: So we are in two business areas one business area for us is Department of Defense contracting and what we do in the contracting area is we work on the I.T. and healthcare side with Army Air Force and Navy and execute the projects for them. Then we also have another area in information technology staffing for Fortune 500 companies. So we do I.T. staffing in general but we specialize in user experience design and usability in that area. The difference that we bring to the table in the staffing area is having the niche of understanding the requirements. Most of our recruiters are technical so we understand user experience but we also understand information technology. I myself was a technical person in the past and the difference that we bring to the government is to have the patience to work with them in terms of for. The closing of the business but then also having the age of 80 to execute things very very quickly understanding the environment we have where we have also brought in people all from Army Air Force and Navy to help all of those different environments and work in those environments extremely quickly. So these are a couple of differences we bring to the business.

Malcolm Lui: Can you share what the three biggest drivers were of your sales growth over the past four years. You had grown your business quite handily from 2.5 million in 2014 to about 16 million in 2018

Harvinder Singh: So the three biggest drivers for us was relationships was number one. The second biggest driver was delivery of getting the business and then executing it. So we got a lot of reference as part of the delivery. And then the third biggest driver was hiding the right people who can not only bring in the sales but hiding the right people in the back end who are delivering for the employees and the employees delivering for the organization. These were the three biggest drivers

Malcolm Lui: Okay. Can you talk a little bit about relationships and how it mattered in developing the two lines of your business.

Harvinder Singh: So my personal experience specially in San Antonio or Texas has been that this is a very good relationship oriented city. People want to do business with people who are friendly who do they know and who can also deliver. So developing that relationship across San Antonio in the government word as well as in technology staffing has really helped us to have the doors open for us. And then after the doors are open then comes the delivery where when people saw hey this person or this company can not only come in and make things right but they can do it very effectively that they have referred us to other businesses as well. So that's how relationships helped us.

Malcolm Lui: Okay now as there is a very large government presence in San Antonio

Harvinder Singh: Now what I understand is that the largest defense is actually the second largest defense money or federal money spent in the city after Washington D.C. area. So there is a large presence of defense

Malcolm Lui: Really

Harvinder Singh: Industry and yes

Malcolm Lui: Low profile though it is from here in Austin it's low profile. What areas of defense spending are happening in San Antonio.

Harvinder Singh: I think there are two big areas of defense in San Antonio. Cybersecurity definitely is huge in San Antonio. It is our game the largest concentration of cyber security people in San Antonio after all the watching can be seen out in that area. And then the second big presence here is healthcare. So healthcare for the government we have a lot of hospitals who are on me ask I they oppose. Then there is a lot of presence of healthcare ideas. So these are the two big areas in San Antonio and the defense market.

Malcolm Lui: So health care must be a really huge chunk of the expenditure. I mean off the top of my head. Yet if I had to guess where the biggest expenditure was for the Department of Defense I would've thought I'd be on the hardware side but sounding like possibly health care for everyone in the military and veterans and active duty like yours really becoming a big piece of the budget now.

Harvinder Singh: Right. And hardware also might be a huge expense because the government has to update its technology every few years so hardware also might be there. But I do not have too much understanding of how much hardware upgrades happen in government or in the defense would you

Malcolm Lui: Yeah that's a totally different world there. All all together. Can you talk a bit more about your it's kind of really see your second and third drivers on the delivery side of things like how do you ensure that you are delivering on time. Ts to t specifications if not in excess of X of the specifications of the project.

Harvinder Singh: So most of the delivery starts with basically the first step coming access. Understanding the requirements and we are big into spending proper time and making sure what is the requirement so that we don't go the wrong way. After a few months not understanding the requirements to begin with then the second step in the delivery is having the quality of delivery so we have recently invested in making sure we are following processes. So we have reason to be gotten ISO nine thousand one twenty thousand one twenty seven thousand one and fourteen thousand one to make sure we are following those processes. We have gotten some certifications from Microsoft and Oracle and we are moving to in my Level 3 implementation which the goal is to get in by June or July of this year. And Dan we also have brought in some very good people to help us deliver quality. So we have brought in recently CTO for our company from match.com who really understands the hope and I.T. Market in San Antonio. Then we have brought in our director of program management who has been in the Air Force for a long time and then really understanding our Army and Air Force in a matter what they want and how to deliver those things. These things have really helped us out in terms of delivery.

Malcolm Lui: Okay so when you talk about quality when it comes to defense contracts he shed some light on that and guess it's different from a private contract.

Harvinder Singh: The quality is different and in a lot of ways because government is very set in their ways and so you have to really understand how to make a difference in terms of quality by not changing the scope of the work too much. So if the technologies are a little bit old and government is not ready to move to the new technology some of the times the support of the product ends so it becomes kind of educational to the government hey we really have to move to this new software a new product but let us see how can we upgrade due to this new software or new product under the constraints of the government security requirements or the infrastructure that government has. So sometimes we have to be creative in doing that. So that's how we sometimes look at things

Malcolm Lui: How do you what are the differences you see in regards to the how the priorities for the government right the people who are evaluating the project deciding who which vendor gets the project evaluating how well the projects going. How do there criteria for quality and success differ from the private sector.

Harvinder Singh: I think there are two three main areas over there that the government looks accept. So sometimes the government projects are huge. Government is very risk averse. So what they mean D.C. is if they're bringing in a new vendor what they are trying to see is how much would this company be able to deliver. OK if we have to take a risk on this Neil render. What is the risk to the government And they trying to mitigate the risk by seeing if it's a small business who is backing them up. Are they having some partnerships with the larger organizations who can actually help them deliver or what is the past performance of this company in the contract area that the government has so they will look at some of the past performances have we have this company delivered some of the similar contracts and risk is one big thing in the government so they want to make sure that all the risk is covered. Sometimes they want to see the product demo that you might be implementing. The commercial area might be a little bit different to where the commercial area. You have to go and convince the commercial manager whoever that managers and say hey yes we can deliver this this is what our process would be like and this is how I can deliver in the commercial areas. It's called a reference so the government area has to although strict protocols of making sure that they are not referring somebody or the other. Just because they're like them but just about also because they can do the work because in government area there's so much protest. So the protocols and the rules and regulations are a lot more than in the commercial industry and to follow those

Malcolm Lui: Right tone I understand that. Now how does a totally new vendor a new startup business. When a government contract. Right. You don't really have a history of winning other kinds of other government contracts like we have. How do you do in your first contract when you've never did any government government work to start with

Harvinder Singh: Right. So this is a challenge for a lot of small businesses getting into the government where the government says hey shut your past departments and companies hey we are new into the business. We don't really have past performance. So in my particular case we had started in the commercial world before. So we had some past performance anxiety work to show to the government hey we have this past performance. Then we started writing the requests for information which in the government works sometimes it's got source the song. And then we said this is how we do this work. We started showing them to people who can do this work. We started bringing company bringing in companies who can support us and have some experience in that. And then we started to also post these started meeting the government contracting officers and technology heads to show that hey we can do this work. So I personally was in technology and with all the partnerships responding to proposals showing them the people who can do this work

Malcolm Lui: Just

Harvinder Singh: Go give governments some level of confidence yes they can do it. So that's how we started getting some of those projects

Malcolm Lui: Right. Okay now why did you decide to focus more on the government side of your business as opposed to commercial. Was it just purely a revenue decision.

Harvinder Singh: It was there were two factors in it. One factor was for a long time we were not able to scale up. So we always had the revenue between 2 million to 3 million dollars and one of the reasons was that we are focusing on user experience staffing across the country and not having local business and trying to do business remotely. It's a little bit hard to scale up and staffing businesses also six months one year or two years at the most. Kind of putting. It. Realizing that the government business is three to five years. The contracts are signed three to five years and there's a big presence of Department of Defense in San Antonio. We said hey that's trial sites out in that market. So those were and when we did we were able to scale up pretty quickly that government so that's how we decided to keep moving to the government market

Malcolm Lui: Right. Got it now. It was early on you mentioned how referrals was a part of driving your business part of the success factors talk about delivering and meeting expectations or exceeding them and generating referrals. How does before us work when it comes to government work

Harvinder Singh: So whenever you are applying or putting in an app a proposal or going and meeting the customer the customer do want to see hey tell us who is. You have done the work for it. Give us the names And the government customer in particular wants to understand what kind of products they have. And if it's a big project the government requires you to put in some kind of reference that they can call and see what your work was like what your delivery was like. Now also in the business in government there are small business specialties So the role of the small business specialist is to understand the capabilities of the company's trying to do business with the government and they take those capabilities and pass them on to the contracting officer. So the technology has answered when the requirements come that hey go talk to this company. Tried this company. So that's more of a referral kind of business that happens in the Department of Defense or government market.

Malcolm Lui: Ok for your third driver. Hiring the right people to bring in the sales. Can you talk a little bit about that when it comes to government contracts. How does having the right people bring in the sales

Harvinder Singh: So basically what I have observed or seen is that all three different departments of Defense have a different language. So Air Force have their own language and army have their own language and Navy have been on the language and by language I mean not English but the way they communicate with each other. So what I saw was that if I hire somebody who understands the Air Force language it's so easy for people to relate with each other connect with each other and understand the technology. That is used because Air Force Army and Navy sometimes they use different kinds of technologies. So bringing in people who really understand that particular environment from people and technology perspective help them connect easily with people on the other side of the table. And that reduces a lot of friction or risk or barriers people might have in their mind in terms of delivery or in terms of risk. So that really helps us get to the business quickly and deliver it quickly as well

Malcolm Lui: Right now the sales process isn't something that you really have control over though right. I mean the government has their timetable for a project and the kind of stick to it right.

Harvinder Singh: Correct.

Malcolm Lui: Ok. So so for you free for the objective then of your sales team isn't so much to move a lead in prospect and turn them into a client as quickly as possible as much as it is to just keep the engagement going and making sure that your top of mind and that you understand what the project and the people are looking for so that you will be among the top three when it comes to them evaluating the projects right.

Harvinder Singh: Correct

Malcolm Lui: Okay. Got it. Now in terms of finding contracts now are they open bidding opens some middle or is it by invite only

Harvinder Singh: So their boat normally is open building most of the contracts are open bidding. And sometimes they do the invite on the. So for example if they put in a request for information and let us say five or six companies responded to it. So they will send a proposal out to those six companies but that happens very rarely. Most of the time it is open bidding

Malcolm Lui: Ok. And just you know if someone came up to you and said I want to win a defense contract and I'm tardy I'm starting totally from scratch. Right. And let's say you don't have the commercial experiences you had where I'm in need really. You have the expertise they have the knowledge and they want to do government work. Is that Viable is that feasible would you just tell them that these and private sector work first then approach the government or can someone really get started from scratch with the government at the get go

Harvinder Singh: So they have some commercial experience to begin with. Then the government would be a lot more open to hearing them and giving them the opportunity to work with them. How ever if the person does not have any commercial experience but if they were part of the services for Armenia for something and then they understand the environment then also government is open to giving them some work. So if you do not have the or the background you do not have commercial services experience then you have to go through the route where you part of it smaller larger companies and use them as you your back to to try and open the doors or try and win contracts.

Malcolm Lui: Have been there.

Harvinder Singh: Yes

Malcolm Lui: Can you share with us what your 2019 plans are.

Harvinder Singh: So the 2019 plans. We want to continue growing our Commercial business as well as our Department of Defense business. The goal is to get to a little bit more top 20 million dollars this year. And where we want to do it is by bringing in the right people who will have had companies scale up in the past who have been at companies who have been doing business of 25 to 50 million dollars. And that's one way of scaling up and we are also trying to strengthen our operations by bringing in the right operations people by bringing the right technologies to continue to scale up. That's our total of 19 plan

Malcolm Lui: Ok. And the growth would be coming primarily from the government side. So you can go from 16 million to 20 million by winning about 4 million more of government contracts

Harvinder Singh: That's correct

Malcolm Lui: Ok now do you have visibility as to the likelihood I see me you know the timetable so you know when contracts are due to be decided and awarded in the upcoming year. Right. That's how the process

Harvinder Singh: Current

Malcolm Lui: Works.

Harvinder Singh: Correct

Malcolm Lui: Ok. So to to win four million dollars of business. In your experience how much. Yes. How many. That's the value of all the business you need to bid for to win four million a business

Harvinder Singh: Probably 40 million or more

Malcolm Lui: Wow. OK

Harvinder Singh: Maybe even

Malcolm Lui: So

Harvinder Singh: More so

Malcolm Lui: Ok so so only winning 10 percent of the bids is that's par for the course. That's the normal way of doing things. When it comes to winning government work OK. No. Now is your win rate. Do you know if that's considered normal is that industry average above average below average.

Harvinder Singh: So this would be probably Industrial Average. Though I have heard of the company's slowed a bit to get the rent rate up to 40 percent. Now we haven't that in a past performance in our business to get to that win rate. Thus we are very hungry right now so that's why we want to go after more bids. Well

Malcolm Lui: Yeah I guess if you only do the recap type project I guess a win rate view much higher right.

Harvinder Singh: All right all for you all if you play your cards right you have the right partners you understand the customer extremely well you know there are challenges there and the customer likes you then the chances are slim reading also go up

Malcolm Lui: Yes. Now how does marketing factor into winning new business for you

Harvinder Singh: So marketing in Department of Defense word is more about understanding the common challenges are and having people go and visit understand those challenges the government understand this is how we can do the work these are our partners and then put all of that in the proposals so that when the technical evaluation team is looking at it they feel comfortable with you and they say yes this company can do it or you can also do some product demos or you can visit the customer and tell them this is how you are going to do it. That's more of a marketing that might succeed in the entire organization compared to the traditional roles of marketing which is now moving the work to the digital world or having bought some trade shows or or sending them information materia those might have a little bit less side effect than having those personal connections and in showing your ability and skill set to get to top

Malcolm Lui: Right now. What do you think about using marketing to generate your brand. To to to build up top of mind presence so that they will think of you when it comes to reaching out to your firm to invite you to bid or let you know that there's a project that that they would like you to bid on might not be you might be open bidding but they reach out to you say you know I think you guys would be a good fit here. Maybe you'd like to take a look at bidding. What role does marketing play in regards to reaching out to all the Department of Defense to go out there who you don't know currently so you're not really able to speak with them and engaged in right. You want to use the marketing to and to build up interests that they will engage you initially so that you can start their relationship

Harvinder Singh: Right. So marketing in the common code other than responding to all of my sources saw visiting them talking about the challenges and and those kinds of things is what I have understood might work but I really have not been able to understand and have radios any of the other channels available in marketing to be able to pass on our message to the government or make the but also because of some other channels of marketing. I haven't really been able to understand those average any of those yet

Malcolm Lui: Right. Have you Have you experimented with some marketing to engage your potential DOJ contacts early before your sales team reaches out to them. Have you tried some of the different ways of outreach

Harvinder Singh: We have just those limited ways that I talk to you about not not a whole lot of new ways

Malcolm Lui: Okay. Like I mean have you tried any hard digital marketing. Have you tried trade shows that you tried sending materials

Harvinder Singh: So sending materials we do trade shows we are looking into we haven't done that digital marketing that we have not done through the government yet

Malcolm Lui: Okay so when you say you send materials is that sending them cold to them or is that only when they ask for it.

Harvinder Singh: So it's sending them code when they ask for it it's sending them white papers capabilities colored as well as when they ask for input

Malcolm Lui: Okay. Have you had some good response from the cold outreach when you send out materials to them.

Harvinder Singh: Not really.

Malcolm Lui: Okay. Any thoughts as to why they didn't respond.

Harvinder Singh: I think the environment in the government is very conservative. They're inward communication is a lot more than outward communication and what it means is the way the government functions as they don't want any company to be perceived that hey you are our favorite company. By some other companies so you can send the communication in and some of the government departments are operating themselves out of this thinking and saying no we have to reach out to them and we have to get their input. That has opened our challenges and books to them so that they can give an effective solution. But a lot of organizations within government are not there yet. So maybe

Malcolm Lui: Okay.

Harvinder Singh: That might be the reason as well or maybe our materials and effective enough it's certainly of those two things might happen.

Malcolm Lui: Yeah. Or maybe possibly. You might not have been targeting the right people. Like how did you know who to send the materials to especially on the cold outreach side. I mean when they ask for it it's kind of obvious that pop up when you're contacting people who haven't heard of you yet. How did you get their names. How did you find out who they are. How do you make a good guess that they might be a good fit

Harvinder Singh: So that that ID we get because of us being in Warden organizations like FCA there are the cyber security people come and then there is organization for how to get I.T. where those healthcare I.T. people come or we go to all the various small business events that 30 or 40 organizes so that understanding we do get some time. So most of the times

Malcolm Lui: All right. OK got that. Now would you do this brainstorming here. Do you have you know when when the DVD asks for people to submit proposals and do bids for projects is the contact information a person's contact information available to you. For the past bids as well could

Harvinder Singh: Yes.

Malcolm Lui: You go to the

Harvinder Singh: So

Malcolm Lui: Day

Harvinder Singh: You.

Malcolm Lui: To day

Harvinder Singh: Yeah so fast bent incumbent information is available through some paid softwares that you can go there and see who was and come back on the fast speed. The government

Malcolm Lui: Okay.

Harvinder Singh: People who are involved in the evaluation idea that information is not available.

Malcolm Lui: Okay so but you think there must be a point of contact right. I would imagine for a. For any bid a proposal like this that readily

Harvinder Singh: Correct.

Malcolm Lui: Available.

Harvinder Singh: Yeah that

Malcolm Lui: Ok.

Harvinder Singh: Disconnect.

Malcolm Lui: But you said you have yet to access access that the paid database to get that information.

Harvinder Singh: So there's a big database to get information on the past bit like who was the incumbent what was contract lie to you and it has a little bit more information. You can also ask the government what that information that the government provides some limited information that you can use. But there are some databases which have a lot more information about the past

Malcolm Lui: Right.

Harvinder Singh: Bits

Malcolm Lui: Right. So they got that database that you just mentioned the paid one it be quite good for finding partners.

Harvinder Singh: That can also

Malcolm Lui: I

Harvinder Singh: Be good for finding partners. Yes

Malcolm Lui: Or becoming a subcontractor to the two to the winners if they were you know it was a suitably large enough project.

Harvinder Singh: Hopefully

Malcolm Lui: Yeah okay great. Three three last questions for you.

Harvinder Singh: Yes sir.

Malcolm Lui: Say in San Antonio. Say you're driving Austin right on the freeways in between San Antonio and Austin can go to a speed limit of 90 miles per hour. And I say there's a billboard on the side of the side of the freeway not typically billboards have have a six second window to get their message across before people drive by. What would be your sixth second message for that sticker.

Harvinder Singh: Interesting that I mentioned spam these days is nine seconds. But you're right. It might be six seconds

Malcolm Lui: Yeah

Harvinder Singh: But there's this very interesting message that the attorney in San Antonio has. And it says I would argue with a woman and and that she is a family lawyer issue when family divorce cases and those kinds of things and she has them although San Antonio so the message is very effective to me.

Malcolm Lui: Okay. Uh.

Harvinder Singh: I was 6 second message. I will have to think about it but maybe Al Gore done business with Pastika try it and simplify your life something like that. Try it and make your life easier. Maybe something like that.

Malcolm Lui: Right. Okay. And two last questions for you. Who. You know who are your ideal partners or even the Department of Defense people who might come across this interview who might be listening to it and they're going to this is pretty good. I like to contact the contact commander in this team. Who are those people and what's the best way for them to reach out to you.

Harvinder Singh: So I think the people those are people who believe in long term relationships. It doesn't believe in trust and people who can actually do what they say. So those are the people who probably from mid-sized companies or large sized companies or even smaller companies and people who have in-depth experience in the technology and the healthcare market. Those are the people who would be ideal partners upon us

Malcolm Lui: And this is before the commercial side of your business or the government side.

Harvinder Singh: This is what the government's side

Malcolm Lui: Ok so you're OK interested in talking to a commercial businesses wanting to do government work or you're looking to talk more so on companies that are already focus on government work.

Harvinder Singh: Companies that are already focused on government work

Malcolm Lui: Now I know you're looking to staff up as well. I'm sure there are people who you like to reach out to. He might potentially want to hire that you'd welcome a conversation with him.

Harvinder Singh: Absolutely

Malcolm Lui: Yeah you're welcome to share those folks here if I can maybe will reach out to you

Harvinder Singh: So we are looking for some senior level people in in the government or who have experience in developing business with the government whether they are also right at us whether they are vice president and strategy strategy and execution. Then we are also looking for some sales people for our staffing division. So these are the kind of people we are looking for and they

Malcolm Lui: Like

Harvinder Singh: Can

Malcolm Lui: A

Harvinder Singh: Reach

Malcolm Lui: Greek

Harvinder Singh: Out to me by sending me their resume. My team is hard winter at best the dot com

Malcolm Lui: Could you spell out best sticker. That's not that. Just make sure people can type in your e-mail address correctly

Harvinder Singh: Know best because B E S T I see a best the dot com.

Malcolm Lui: All right. What's the origin of your company name.

Harvinder Singh: Some back in 2000 and five we were trying to get us my domain name and most of the domain names were taken. We are trying to get some is that we want to do for our customer. One of the things we wanted to do was best doing some best work for the customers. So there was a band called Metallica which is my favorite band and there was a company called Selectric. So I took the best work to work best for to fall for the objective that we had in business and then that I see a from the Metallica kind the company selected and combine these two to make it simple and thus my domain name. So just combining these two words is how we get the best of the

Malcolm Lui: Right now it's surprising I would not have guessed that Metallica would be your favorite band.

Harvinder Singh: Products enterprise.

Malcolm Lui: Yes. All right fantastic. Thanks so much for joining us today. Harbinger and cheering How you accelerate your company's high value sales.

Harvinder Singh: My pleasure. Thank you for your time and asking all these tough questions I think they will help me then some strength to do on my side as well. YouTube.

Malcolm Lui: All right well whenever you want more tough questions you know where to find me.

Harvinder Singh: Thank you.

Malcolm Lui: We've been speaking with Harvinder Singh, the President and CEO of Bestica, about his company's rapid growth. For interviews with other fast growing, high value sales companies, or to learn how we can accelerate your firm's high value sales through automation, visit Eversprint.com.

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