Brendan Mullen, the President & CEO of MKS2 Technologies, grew his company’s revenue from $750K in 2014 to $5.4m in 2017, a 602% increase, and now they are on track to hit $6.8m this year.
MKS2 Technologies provides cyber security, software development, and large IT enterprise services to federal government and commercial customers.
In this interview with Eversprint‘s Malcolm Lui, Brendan shares how he and his team accelerated their high value sales by:
- Having a 100% remote workforce that lowers their overhead and allows them to make more competitive bids.
- Managing their business so that they can bid and win large contracts with long procurement cycles.
- Being prepared to quickly take advantage of opportunities when they arise.
: Malcolm Lui here. Welcome to Eversprint.com. Today we're speaking with Brendan Mullen, the President and CEO of MKS2 Technologies, a fast growing company that provides cyber security software development and large I.T. enterprise services to federal government and commercial customers. We'll be discussing how he grew his company's revenue from $750,000 in 2014 to $5.4 million in 2017, a 602% increase and how they're on track to hit $6.8 million this year. Welcome to the call Brendan.
: Malcolm glad to be here. Thanks for taking the time.
: Brendan. How did you do it? How did you grow your company sales so fast?
: First of all it is a remarkable number. You know 620 Sommai percent and in the end the year prior we would try to reset what we like what I like. Thereupon you know while we've grown a dramatic number over the course of the last couple of years in terms of some percentage of growth. How do we do it. We were in a very good position as a prepared company with salsify proper procedures in place to shoulder this type of growth combined with Jaimy combined with hard work combined with a little bit of luck. So we were on the receiving end of a telephone call that I very well could have let it go to voicemail or perhaps I may have missed that and they made a call to another partner another other company. But long story short as I was on the receiving end of a telephone call that said Brendan some of our partners are performing. Can you help. And because of that I said yes and I didn't ask too many questions and because of the nature of the company being prepared to bring on some growth we shoulder that and then because of that we entered into 31 Veteran Hospital the Department of Veteran Affairs hospitals nationwide on the back of one of their kind of groundbreaking new Cyber Security accounts to revolutionize and change the information security systems and the vulnerabilities within the department to be a nationwide
: So from growing your business from 750000 in 2014 up to six point eight million this year. What was that. Is it just getting a lot of business from one huge client or were you would add a lot of additional nuclides during that time period.
: How we did it right. Rideable by the nature of having the growth allowed for us to diversify and bend resources in other capacities from business involvement to proposal to capture. And so we expanded a large composite component of our work into working for the media focusing on some of the structural design work for the Navy and curriculum and training build. Additionally because of the nature of us working really hard to build is a really good professional personal relationships with my team with our clients that allows for us to have some of organic growth within other programs to include the U.S. Army and other programs or other Granik growth within the department of the.
: So how do you typically increase the business from a client. You do one project at the beginning you know how do you get more product projects how do you grow it from that perspective.
: We are the traditional government can companies the government contracting department consultants. And what that means is in many regards one of the biggest concerns in the world of U.S. governmental FAMM and in many regards large entities from the Boeing to the to the east to the north the Romans to the deltoid and Binyon. They all need more business partners when they go after large detachments within the federal government. So we are considered a service disabled veteran on small business and we have the certification to allow for us to be considered one of these. And so from an organic growth perspective working as a teammate for some of these large integrators we check a lot of boxes when we have extraordinarily a rich and complex past performance allows for us to suggest that we deliver for Uncle Sam in the past for the more we have Sobota some of these fast growing publications nationwide publications that have said just that we're one of the fastest growing businesses to our security clients at the top. You know we hold the top secret facility by a variety of different that allow for us to organically grow as a partner to some of these large integrators. But then on the flip side we can also go after were direct Tanko as a banker. And so what we've done is kind of built out our professional professional business development operation both going after organically grown work with large integrators as well as going after work through prime relationships that go after a client that we've read done a lot to capture and kind of human intelligence gathering of why we can provide the best value for the client.
: You mentioned earlier just now a bunch of checkboxes that you fit. How important are those was ticking off those boxes in landing new business.
: I think it you know it though were considered as service they will not that we will never put our hand out suggesting that hey we have the certification whereas our work we are always willing and able and looking for the kind of rolling up his sleeves and getting the work done ourselves and providing the value. But admittedly it does help help you know from business to it without your help. Don't do it. All these different certifications that help within the socioeconomics that it is for large integrators to be able to present within their proposal and their technical response suggesting that these companies are part of the team and that we can go after work together and it does check off the boxes from some of the federal mandates that the agencies have to call with that
: When doing work for the military and for the government what are their decision Tyria what's most important to them when they choose a vendor
: Well that's a good question and in many regards some would like many agencies and some of the outsourcing work that they need to be completed or delivered up again. They look at it is what's called lowest price technically acceptable or perhaps on the converse would be best value. So you know it depends on what the agency is looking for depends on what the client inside the perspective program and program offices looking for. But I think from a high level they are looking for a partner. They're looking for a company that is you know easy to work with responsive they check their egos at the door and a middling can get the job done under the contract constraints and deliverables for her her time and money.
: For the contracts that you bid on that you lost Woody. What were the criteria that you lost on why do you think he lost them versus the competition.
: Just recently we built something that we were very hopeful on and that we lost and of course we got our called a degree from a program office. I tracked it off and then they came back and said listen you guys were crushin landed at number one or number two. Depends how the score and the weighting looked like for the technically most responsive and best technical proposal in terms of what we can do. But ultimately that client and their criteria for evaluation of Win had price at a really high high in Korea. And so we were too high were too expensive. So what that led us to believe and you know as we kind of digest that and then went through the debris we came back to that all right we have the chops. We have experience we have the pass as we with the people we now need to either figure out how to come down at cost or make the decision professionally and in the corporate entity to say listen we're not going to worry about going down because we want to continue to provide this type of value. If the client wants to pay for today will sooner or later will find Clyde they're going to come up in price to be able to fit our
: Now the bidding process to win a to win a contract we're talking months or even years potentially right.
: Yes. Some depends on you know the traditional kind of on open procurement from the agencies there's some debate that some are within weeks that idea. Q High Tech vehicle that sometimes the words are made within three to six weeks. But it is traditional for an open opportunity. Sometimes there are six months sometimes 12 sometimes 18 months sometimes you spend a considerable amount of for both bid and proposal dollars and you know getting something from capture out the door in a big FedEx box. And oftentimes you know will be 24 36 months before they actually award up on it and that that deals with funding obligations that deals with geopolitical errors that are blowing that I can't have control nor influence upon. Coo coo coo coo another point where many companies you compete against I believe that the Fed chairman's process was unfair and you know pointed are directed towards a specific company and then many companies will get may take legal action because of protests. So sometimes it gets extended very far into the future but that's of course a huge challenge for any small business or or even sometimes in the larger businesses in particular or the small businesses. We don't have the luxury of any huge overhead nor a cash reserve to be able to wait 24 months for an award. So talent. We need opportunities in what type industry and what types of worker. You know something whether it's for development projects or security type projects. The business in employee less laborious and then the insight goes into when time there's an employee Lapindo or the you know the grass is always greener type capacity in any of the companies that I work with that are. Traditionally only Cup commercial Sharina and they salivate over having a five year contract. On work whereas on the same side I to salivate over the fact that they win program and an opportunity and a very very short Matter of time. But that that is the negative that is sometimes only 90 year secure 100 day 120 day engagements or long term contracts.
: Right. So how does the commercial side your business factor into your overall scheme of things. How big is it now as a percentage of revenue. And where do you want to take it over next five years.
: Well I think you know that's something that we're or we're staring at right now. And there are diversification of how we can build our commercial portfolios more robust and get a deeper first what we have right now. Almost 100 percent of federal that we work with some Kurzel entity that subcontractors but at the end of the day we are still supporting the federal government and subcontract some more
: So today than it did basically zero. So right now beyond you know in that purpose is the zero. But we're trying to figure out how to get into Europe by.
: What do you think he's going to be the route you're going to take to develop the commercial side of your business.
: Good question. You know we have. Kind of sessions on that pretty frequently in terms of my overhead that figure out where the what would we find most valuable. It is the fact that we're inside 31 hospitals across the country. Would it be smart for us to go into hospitals here locally or nationwide attempts to be able to provide them work type sir. Yeah well I don't want to get too deep into it because it's doing a set of conversations within our team are trying to build up a strategy
: Ok fair enough. Now in terms of the technology that the V.A. hospital uses versus the technology it is used in commercial hospitals right now are they comparable or are they or are the VA hospitals ten years behind the curve.
: You know that is a very good question. I I defer to the point where because we're not in commercial hospital I wouldn't know how to do that. I will say that the VA has made a considerable effort over the last number of years to revolutionize this technology. I think like any statement it's boring a federal federal government agency they will say that they're behind the power for other technologies that are commercial entities right now.
: Ok so for the way that the vendors work now serving the government and the military how do they need to change and adapt. Either your firm or the industry as a whole. How do they change or adapt to better meet the needs. What's demanded by the government in the military.
: Well I think that's a pretty nuanced question. I think you know what. The You know the human take on the sequester is very very laborious. And we talked about that a little bit earlier. I can give you a personal yet on how long it is. I'm. Work with the government of there's a is a thing called sort of thought known as basically the federal government agency to push out what's called the Gotthold which is you know in many regard consider and horrified what companies are out there that think they could do the work can they provide us a five page document that can do the work that if it's more than two to three more than the Met and it really shows relevant work to perform a lot. More. More than likely the government high tech office will make a small business. And in regard to. Account that we want our company submitted a sources got noted in November 16 and 364 days later. In November 17 we signed the winning contract. Now that said we won the contract. We were excited. When we did a meeting in the month of February of a band. I didn't get the program off the ground until they came. So in many regards from the day that we submitted the Thursday that noted it was here in the what between the day we submitted to the day we started billion in revenue. And then though if I could take anything into the Germans the dump would be to let them streamline the whole entire acquisition and to get across that to make it more palatable for small businesses and getting to grow up.
: Is there an initiative within the government along those lines.
: I think there's always been a shift to try to clean up to the government. But I will say in Italy that taxpayer money. So there's a lot of profit the that are put up to have checks and balances so that there's no waste fraud and abuse within the system. As a taxpayer I am a creature of. A prejudice of the system that way. But if somehow we can make tweaks to allow for it to be a little bit more streamlined and not hellebore it. A lot of times I'm set upon. We would. We would have a better strategic forecast. For us to be able to identify when the work may or may not come.
: Right. It returns everything in regard to trends that you're seeing either in the commercial space or in the military in government spaces. What do you see unfold and what do you see happening and how are you positioning your company to either take advantage of it or get out of
: The way if it's a destructive
: From Mike Mike from work that you guys that you know I look at it from a very high level you know 30 40000 foot you looking down and looking at the new budget for the department the fact that I got my head I don't know what the number is but I believe it was a 23 percent increase which turned out to be gosh you know 75 billion or 45 billion in a certain amount of money that's being pushed back into the market effects for services for weapons for personnel for training from a variety of different components. So from a high level I see you know this new administration wanting to put more dollars back into the Department of Defense wherein a contrast to the previous administration Rudell back a little bit not to mention of course politically the station was up against sequestration which had both houses both sides of the aisle in the House throttling back on a Friday different pieces of the budget to include you know outsourcing ended in professional service of government. So currently we have seen an increase both on benefits And now the question now a lot of these government agencies are trying to do a lot of their needs.
: Ok. How is the internet changing how you do business with the government
: The Internet. The
: The Internet in particular or perhaps just the trends that are taking shape. You know worldwide. You know we're aware of that global you know Economies to some degree to that regard. You I'm super proud to say that we don't spend one dollar On one square foot of real estate and we're 2078 evidence. Yeah we're we're at 71 full time employees and we are totally diverse inclusive of promoting decentralized company. And I think the internet in that regard is completely changed the game where A lot of these large activities from the Booz Allen to Boeing the GS and Northrop and Lockheed demonstrated extraordinary extraordinary footprint around the world providing services for the federal government but at the same time they also have a considerable amount of real estate and small businesses that have the ability to keep the rates remarkably low and very agile and competitive who are putting more overhead in terms of base allows for the Internet to really revolutionize all businesses like ours.
: So the government really doesn't care that much that you have a big office building where
: All your team is sitting together.
: Yes and No. I mean they are of course are going to be specific intimacy of having the next to each other Or having a headquarters where we are seeing each other on a daily basis with the government. I would cry like I would love to know you know whose kid's soccer game is this Saturday or Friday night football game which with which daughter's team is for me to have family is playing the game. You know I love to be of that. Did you I'm a lead but that's not the nature of the satellite company right now. Similar and similarly the other government quite very would very much would prefer some regard to have ever wanted to actually look at that area. So they get the dye they get the other body language they can talk to each other and have the intimacy of seeing each other more frequently. And what we have developed very now is really more Why it's work. Because we really put a certain amount of emphasis on communication. How a lot of touch points from from DGT to call text but that is the first cell phone call and then you know and we make it a point to have that debate as we as though we all travel a lot.
: Yeah. Given the growth you've had you've made it work right. You know 750000 four years ago to you know close to seven million dollars this year it's a pretty chunky increase.
: Yeah we're really excited. But that said we're not we're not back in the barn and always don't come to learn. We still haven't had a ton of work to do and we have some really audacious and big goals that we'd like to take down and to do so we had to make that hard decision and just conversation. Then of course some some some lucky timing you know combined with some artwork
: Right now you mention the word big goals. I know one of them is to investigate to think about entering the commercial space. What other big goals the healthy you can share with us.
: Will be we've put together a pretty comprehensive five year plan of targeting a large top line revenue goals. You know we are a 71 person business you know five years from now 10 years from now or 571. 71 percent of them. You know time will tell. But you know we are shooting for the moon the stars. You know we'd like to blow the doors off the place but we need to do it deliberately thoughtfully and not throw good money after bad money. We need to always be adjusting our Azmath of where we're pointing at what works what doesn't. If it continues to work let's continue to innovate on what works. If it doesn't work quickly and figure out where we need to move our move or ADMET in terms of where we're shooting and trying to chase down Google
: Right. Other than the commercial services space. You know what big goal is your team working on now that you can share with us.
: Well you know we are staring down down down the barrel of a pretty important recompete for one of our contracts. An account That holds the true amount of percent of our revenue. And so in a very very near term our laser focus is to hopefully we win that war. And so it gives us another long runway for us to continue innovating and build out some of those unique initiatives that we're trying to take down. So you know if we lose we of course contract the contract the business contract the topline drops the bottom line drop. Fortunately we are in a position where some of what is called our past performance is relevant for three years. So what that means is we can trade on the work we've previously done inside our proposals by the kind of initiatives for upwards of three years. Even though we no longer own the world we can trade on that suggesting that we've done it we've delivered upon our civil work. These are our deliverables. This is the contract pure form Mormont the contract. Value being that couple years. So all that we can very much grow over the next couple months or we may contract but in the interim we're also putting a lot of things in place for us to grow
: Two last questions for you Renda. Who are your ideal partners for winning government business and who are your ideal government departments that if they would like to reach out to you. What's the best way for them to contact you.
: For former service member and certified CV service they will get out small business and not to mention that were inside 31 hospitals. We would love to continue to work with the Department of the wanted something that I cherish as a service member and met many of our employees are veterans to include former platoon sergeant runs our truck of operations was my classmate of mine Rense the director of it. She did a checker enervation. We would love to spend more time collaborating and working with the department. That aren't sure. We love the fact that we're inside all these hospitals provide fiber. We love to continue to grow relationship with the DA from a from a commercial Biden integrator site. Any large entity you know whether it's the loitering in Yonge or TWC. Raytheon's to you know be a Northrop. All the businesses that are part of a billion dollar corporation are looking for a young innovative agile competitive award winning service they will get out of business. That is why we responsa easy to work with them and we are rolling up our sleeves to provide extraordinary value during the bidding process. I'd love for any of them to give us a call.
: What's the best way for them to reach you. Do you want them to call you direct or shoot you an email. And
: They can make it they can reach me yet. You know Brendan Mullen you know what it is. Of course Brendan Mullen you know that the Mollen that NKF do that they can reach me at my personal about 7 0 3 5 8 7 26 42
: Great thanks so much for taking time today speak to you speak with us about how you grew your company so fast. Brendan
: And I am so appreciative of you taking the time and I really really enjoyed our chat decadent.
: We've been speaking with Brendan Mullen, the President and CEO of MKS2 Technologies about his company's rapid growth. For interviews with other fast growing companies or to learn how we can increase your firm's high ticket sales through automation, visit eversprint.com.