How To Get Into Government Contracting with Think IT Ai’s Gary Lowe
Do you find that your ‘Everyday IT' needs aren’t being managed?
Dealing with difficult technology is a thing of the past, thanks to Gary Lowe, CEO and Founder of Think IT Ai. Think IT Ai’s mission is to manage your technology so you can focus on your business. They specialize in SMB clients in the Tampa Bay area.
Using your existing and the latest technology together, Think IT Ai makes your business faster, safer, and more efficient. They deliver and manage your everyday technology as a service. With their expertise, your technology, and your business, is up and running better than ever before. Think IT Ai has a threat protection guaranteed to keep your most valuable information safe. Their job is to help you do your job better. Think IT Ai was founded by a team of IT leaders who felt that clients needed a reliable technology service that would make their lives easier.
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Welcome to the thoughtful entrepreneur show, I'm Josh Elledge, founder and CEO of up my influence.com, where we turn entrepreneurs into media celebrities, grow their authority, and help them build partnerships with top influencers. So we believe that every person has a unique message that can positively impact the world. Even you stick around to the end of this show, where I'll share info on how you could be our next guest, three times a week, five to 15 minutes each learn from successful business owners and professionals. It's time to get inspired. Let's go. So Gary Lowe, you are the founder and CEO of think it AI you guys are based in St. St. Pete, in over just down the road from me just down I for for me, I'm a year over here in Orlando. And at first off, thank you so much. I'm so glad you here because there's a couple things I'm really excited to chat with you about. Number one is going to be the fact that you guys have grown to do as much contract government contracting as you have. And I think that anybody who has looked at going down that road now just speak from my own experience. Granted, I wasn't all in on it. But when I was looking at doing a financial wellness education, for government contracts, I soon learned that man, that is a long game.
It is it is a long game. It's a complicated game, and it's a game of relationships.
Tell me more. What do you mean by relationships.
So relationships in this business, so even though
even though like the government spending budget is increased almost by $200 billion. So right now, it's around $700 billion a year, you know, the relationships that you have to have to get in this business, you know, is incredibly important. And what I mean by this is, the there are so many businesses, you know, the economy is great, right? Now, everyone wants to have that American dream, that American dream is to own your own business and go into contracting business, working for the government, cuz everyone knows, you know, the government is the largest purchaser in the world. But the wonderful thing, people want to go after that, right. And just like I said before, if you've ever seen that movie dogs of war, you know, everyone gets that idea that 23% has to go to small business. And that is absolutely true. Let me tell you those statistics, 23% has to go to small, medium, minority women owned businesses, veteran owned, and Native American. And that's great. But let me tell you, you can't lead with that you have to know what you're doing. And because so many businesses are popping up left and right. The people who actually make these decisions, you know, see, these companies pop up overnight, and I'm sure they've been burned themselves, when they see a company pop up overnight, you know, and they say, Hey, I can get you great pricing, or I can be I can do this for you. And they do it that one time. And it's great. But when they need them, again, they're out of business, because they couldn't, they didn't have that the sustainability or the grit to like, force through the mistakes. You know, it's hard for them. So they tend to be a little distrustful at times, especially in the government, when you have to be very meticulous about your paperwork, very meticulous about everything that you say you're going to do. Because at the end of the day, what you say, is law, when you're speaking to them, so when you're building these relationships, it is very important that you you know, put a face with the name, you put yourself out there. And consistency is is above all doors because consistency and, and having that the grit to walk forward. Because if you're dealt with the military or dealt with a government, it's like running five miles to lock bathroom door and waiting. You know, you know what you gotta do, but you gotta stick through it, because eventually you're going to get to use it. Yeah. Yeah. So but that's, I mean, that's relationship, you got to make these relationships, you have to be the trusted advisors, the people come to you, and you can't work for them. You have to work with them, and help them out. Yeah. Hey,
so So let me ask you a question then. So let's say that so I'm going to be selfish here, because I've got someone has some experience with government contracting, and I'd love to pick your brain. So So obviously, with my influence, you know, we provide a lot of public relations, social media branding, not web design, you know, we don't do web design, or that sort of thing. But certainly anything that has to do with like, you know, my, let me just tell you, like my dream would be able to work with, say, military leadership, or you guys have a background. So I'm a veteran owned small business VOSB. And, yeah, I've got I actually could qualify for service disabled veterans own small. But as we look at it, here, we go with the acronym.
I know, I know that very well. We can actually, if you're hearing that, if you ever want to meet in Tampa Bay area, but there's a lot of things we can do together.
One Wow. Wow. So yeah, so I'm curious. Now, obviously, I need to find my cage and Nick's code and na ICF. Is that right? And then right? Where would I go to find out if there are any government agencies that are actually looking for a services like that.
So here's the great part about this. It's all open, it's all free. And it's all right at your fingertips on your phone, on the on the website, there are dozens and dozens and dozens of these websites all over America. Now what I would have to say to you, you have to be careful, because a lot of times these these websites are third and fourth parties where they know they go directly to the source, you know, find this opportunity and resell them with a profit with it with a profit on there to people like yourselves and myself. And just me I fallen into that, that that group a couple times that I've learned my lesson since. But there are definitely ways sites were like SEO. And here's the great part about it. The government shares everything they do with everyone. So you can literally see anything that I've ever done with the government. You can see what I paid for it. You can see what I bought for you can see the government. Oh, it's great. Because I saw what what really got me interested in this was a few years back, I was looking at this different things. And I found this gentleman named the TV guy Orlando TV guys out of Orlando. Yes, all the government coffin, top clissold and $5 million with the popcorn over the last four years. Exactly right. And so here's the thing, but I did some research about it. And I found him. And he had the relationship. And he's great. And he proved his ability. And that's the thing you have to you have to do that you got to get in, whether it for a swear dollar, whether it's for $10,000, just to get in. But here's the cool thing about this, I see a lot of people going for micro purchases, and a micro purchase is a purchase that you do on your credit card, anything under $10,000. It changes anywhere between 20 $510,000 depending on the government agency, the government agency actually gives their purchasers a credit card, right. And they don't need to go through the whole bid process, they can just take, I need something from this. I mean, I need something right now, here's a credit card, you know, in this gentleman, you know, figured out a way to and it's not that hard, it's just you have to follow the process, you have to do the bidding process. And once he was in, he had their trust. He you know, they read he put, he put his next code in of what he could go for. And they started reaching out to them saying, Hey, can you do this. And once he had that reach out, or once he had that communication going on, you know, he was able to offer many other services that he never even knew he could get. Remember, he had somehow they asked him? Yeah, remember, they asked him for a dump truck. One was, yeah, you went from coffee into popcorn to dump trucks. It was it was pretty, it was interesting to say the least. But uh, but here's the thing, you also have to make sure that you are really going after all the designations that you qualify for, you have to be the AC you're minority, if you're small business, if you're a woman don't if you're veteran owned, if you're Native American, they don't help you get the business because at the end of the day, it's about quality of the business and customer service is, but here's the thing, if you have these designations, the government and you you see the news, you see what's going on in the world today, diversity is one of the biggest issues in our nation, you know, news, capital and nations nations conversation period, diversity is a thing, it is a it is by law, you know, a lot of the set aside has to you know, they have to 23 25% has to be given to these guys, nations to you know, to share the wealth, right. And if you have these designations, and I gotta tell you, from what you just told me, You have a lot of these things. I've known many people over the years, that have just quit everything, and just do this full time, you know, and because once they get the process down, it does take a while and I'm talking about weeks, I'm not talking about month, I'm talking about maybe, you know, if you're fresh, you know, brand new to this, you know, maybe a year or two, you know, if you had some experience, maybe a couple months to a year. But this can be a very lucrative, very profitable thing, because it's all about picture of it, and being the middleman offering good customer service. But then to my original point, these goals, the set asides, they have to hit these goals. And if you allow them to hit these goals, they get more, they get more revenue, or they might get more profitability, or the number that they need to hit the hit that you don't have such a struggle going for that same amount of money the following year or going for because they see that they are sharing the wealth and it helps them mentally.
Wow. Well, that's really cool. So let's talk after the interview. 10:10 No, no, no, bore anyone
with any internal details, but I listened update, if I start doing government contracting, I'll share all the I'll share all my secrets on social. So make sure you follow me on twitter at Josh Elledge. So, so Gary, um, in terms of what you do with, with think it, Ai, what makes you unique.
So, and I know, this is going to sound a little cliche, but I don't necessarily consider us very, very unique, you know, we strive to, we strive to keep ourselves good customer service, we strive to keep ourselves, you know, good speed, speed to our speed to our customers. And we we really like to just be a good hard working ethic company, right? What I mean by this is, you know, we see so many so many companies today, just going for the dollar, the almighty dollar, you know, the ones that the one that rules them, all right. So we're not necessarily going for that, you know, we're in a good place. You know, we love We love our community, here, we are going after making sure that we make a difference in this world, we make a difference for our children, and we make a difference for know what we do. Because what we do, essentially keeps us in business, you know, the better I am to be more loyal and to my customers and more free than I am to my customers, you know, really makes a difference. But I do have to say internally, we do something a little bit different. As I was speaking before, you know, I started this company and few years back with partner mind, you know, we were running this, we were running it like a more of a dictatorship. And I gotta tell you, but today's world, today's economy and today's culture, you know, dictatorship, you know, aren't necessarily working as great as it can't just be one person anymore, one or two people making all the decisions, you everyone that we work with, has been in the tech field for quite a long time, even even if they haven't been in the tech field for quite a long time. You know, there's something there's, there's something that's coming out into this world today, that is becoming more that is becoming more valuable than the dollars in your hand. And it's called the intellectual property. Right. You know, the intellectual property, a young mind today I guys, because I've worked with such large companies like Microsoft, Dell, Lenovo, Samsung Cisco, you know, I've got a chance to meet, you know, 18 year old young adults who, who figured out a way to solve their mother from getting not hacked in the telephone. And next, you know, within a week later being offered $50 million for that solution. Wow, you know, it? Yeah, it was absolutely amazing to me to, for me to, and because I worked with this gentleman, this young, younger, younger gentleman, he asked me here, Is this real? And I was like, well, you got something, and the person you're talking to is very legitimate. So, you know, I would actually probably see what you can do with this. But but the to that point, you know, the intellectual property, our minds are in invaluable. Right? We took on the approach of King Arthur, and they're out in the Knights of the Round Table, where we all sit, we all discuss, you know, we all have perspective, expertise in our areas. aware, you know, we have the final decision, you know, myself, you know, in terms of the tech sales marketing, by Parker, a little more on the technical side, you know, just other, our other, our other employees, but we sit down, we hash it out. And, you know, whoever has that more technical expertise in that particular area defect 51% of the decision making Billy, and I got to tell you, we're growing, we're growing, and we're making a difference in our community. So yeah.
Well, Gary, thank you so much. And this was really, really great. Yeah, I hope that other people listening is conversation too. I can you know, if they've ever toyed with the idea of government contracting, do you have any good resources that you'd recommend, like a good starting point for that? Like, how did you learn about this originally?
Okay. So how I learned about originally, is I've worked in this field in the IT field for the last almost 15 years. Right. And, you know, I, it's funny enough, but, you know, a few years back, one of my customers, you know, I was asking him, you know, I watched this journey, he started with me a few years back, and he was doing about $200,000 a year and, you know, elevated and graduated to about $15 million a year in about a four year period. And I simply asked him, you know, what did you do here? What, how did you do this? And he's like, Gary, at the end of the day, I hate to tell you, I don't want to tell you, but you helped me out a lot. You told me what to do, how to do it, what it were to sell it. And you wouldn't you did you do? Show me where to get it, you can talk to my customers for me. So when i when i saw i started about this, I started in the IT field, but you don't have to start here in the IT field, you just have to have an expertise. because let me tell you, you know, the government, once again, the largest purchaser in the world for all goods. And when I talked about the Orlando TV guy, he sold $5 million worth of popcorn to them. coffins, you know, you have to have a focus, you have to have a direction. And you have to know, like, you have to be dedicated to it. But to start things off, excuse me, you really have to go to your local state and government. And when I say this, is they're there, they're here in Florida, there is an initiative, there's companies that accompany a state funded company called the diversity organization p tak, where they actually their goal their their government employees, their gold on local businesses, that better they do, the higher they get paid. So they want you they need you to do better, because it's in their best interest. That's how they get paid. So there's so many free programs out there, if you just look ask and listen. But I do have to say you have to be open to it. I see so many people pass up so many great things. You know, just to give an example, I had a friend of mine, she was a great person, she you know, she had a business going on. And I hooked her up with one of my Oh, it was one of the P tax that I know, I hate to use the acronyms. But the but this person who I knew, let me say it was very well connected. If they liked each other, my feedback would it would have would have hooked her up all day long. Like Like, like put her in the right connections, had her fill out the right contracts. And it was almost a very easy play. But the thing is my that my associate didn't take it seriously. I didn't understand if she didn't know and and that's the thing about it. Like you have to keep everyone says they want to be it. But the you have to ask yourself the question Do you really want to you really want to involve yourself, you really want to go through the through the trouble of all this. But back to the story. There's so many valuable opportunities here in the local in your local government. And so many free programs score, you know, they have mentorship programs, they have the score score of mentorship programs, they have free business training programs, they equip books, they have everything look for your economic Look, look. Normally every city has some kind of economic development program, right? Yes. Look at see what that is, you know, reach out to the people how can you get involved Let me tell you my my first big sale, but it was funny. My first big fail was my first big success because I sat in front of about I don't know 300 entrepreneurs at a local economic development center here that we haven't young p at a place called the greenhouse and I put together our presentation of who I thought we were what I thought we were going towards and let me tell you, you know I spoke well, I was nervous as all our doors put get put together presentation I spoke well at it. I thought I did a great job. I got to tell you no one knew what the hell I said at the end of the day. Yeah, like
no one knew what I was going for. Knew it like it was just so many different directions. And I gotta tell you, it was so frustrating for me. But that frustration I gotta tell you feel it. Go through it. Don't Don't just feel it don't don't think that frustration is a bad thing. That frustration just redefining your path. You got to feel that frustration because I sat down and I looked at myself I looked at my conversation and I asked myself the questions flooded people what why did How come no one could understand what we did it was so clear in my head but it made but after a while of going over and over and over again. I was totally wrong like the house communicating it was how someone that has been in the business for the last 15 years talks to their peers. And that's not how the world sees you because yeah, they haven't exactly your partner. Yeah.
Well Gary Lowe You are the founder and CEO of think ITAI based in Tampa st Pete Florida just down the road you my friend You and I are gonna chat
absolutely need to run down to my local p tech office as well that we actually have a really great as a Small Business Development Center here in Orlando. I really need to revisit this and and take a look at I know what my next code is for public relations. I should explore this again I should explore this again so I thank you for the inspiration my friend
know You're very welcome. And I do have to say as well to your area Orlando is one of the largest and accompany for largest in the country for government contracting. You are the hub for most all communications and all decision making or one of them so 20:12 you're in a great place. Yeah. Terrific. Well, Gary, thank you so much.
You're very welcome.
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