Creating government contracting opportunities through free teaming partner platform
Stephanie Alexander and Katie Bilek are the co-founders, Partners, and “matchmakers” at govmates, a free teaming partner platform for government contractors. Founded in 2015, govmates represents more than 50 federal agencies and has successfully made more than 7,000 matches between businesses. Large and small government contracting businesses alike use the service to form teaming arrangements and win mutually beneficial bids for federal projects. Earlier this year, govmates and Offit Kurman established a strategic marketing partnership to better serve the nation’s largest concentration of government contractors..
In addition to their roles at govmates, Stephanie and Katie each act in an executive leadership capacity in organizations adjacent to the matchmaking space. Stephanie is President of BOOST LLC, a back-office support firm for government contractors; Katie is Senior Vice President at Republic Capital Access, a finance company for government contractors.
For this interview, Stephanie and Katie spoke with Offit Kurman Business Law and Transactions Practice Group Chair Michael N. Mercurio.
MIKE MERCURIO: Tell us where you grew up and something interesting about your childhoods.
KATIE BILEK: I’m originally from Texas—grew up in Austin, Texas. I spent my early career on Wall Street at Goldman Sachs. Most of this was on the West Coast out in Silicon Valley, so Silicon Valley is the birthplace for disruptive technologies and I think that’s where I really developed a passion for creating a business that can really be disruptive and create value.
STEPHANIE ALEXANDER: I grew up down in Norfolk in the Hampton Roads area. I’m a Virginia girl. I went to school at Virginia Tech and moved up to the DC area afterwards. I always, as a little girl, played business—whatever that meant—I think I grew up with a boring calculator or something. I always knew I wanted to start my own company, so for me it’s been a passion of mine. I had no idea what the company was going to be, but behold: umpteen years later and two companies.
MIKE MERCURIO: Looking at both of your backgrounds, it appears that you have a love of numbers. What do you attribute that liking to?
STEPHANIE ALEXANDER: Well, like I said, I think I was born with a calculator in my hand, so I appreciate the black/white factor of numbers. What about you, Katie?
KATIE BILEK: I grew up as the daughter of accountants so, yeah, numbers are in my blood.
MIKE MERCURIO: Stephanie, I think it was you that said during lunch that it was a mixture of confidence, fearlessness, or stubbornness that allowed you to start your first business. What do you guys attribute to starting govmates?
KATIE BILEK: It’s probably a combination of all of the above, but really confidence in that we had something unique. We saw that that there was an opportunity in the market that wasn’t being met. We decided to take a formulaic and methodical approach to teaming introductions in the government contracting space, which no one was really doing. We decided we wanted to disrupt the market, if you will, and create something that no else had done.
MIKE MERCURIO: So, was it confidence?
STEPHANIE ALEXANDER: I think so. I mean we saw the need, and where there’s a need there’s a market. Also to Katie’s point, our formulaic approach—we saw a way to do it better.
MIKE MERCURIO: How did you come up with the name govmates? I know at lunch we had an interesting discussion around the name.
KATIE BILEK: We both kind of got to play off of almost a dating site or dating platform for federal contractors, because what can be sexier than teaming in the federal contracting industry, right? Sadly, I hate to embarrass ourselves, but I will—one of our first names we had come up with was “G Harmony,” and then we figured the lawyers would have a field day with that; and then “Gov Love,” which we thought was a little too much; and so we settled on govmates, and we’re glad that we did.
STEPHANIE ALEXANDER: govmates is a happy combination of government contracting and teaming, so that’s what we are.
MIKE MERCURIO: Makes sense. I understand this is your after hours job. You each have day jobs. Tell me about your day job, BOOST.
STEPHANIE ALEXANDER: I am the founder and CEO of BOOST, which stands for Back Office Organizational Support Team—for those in the industry, we all have acronyms—and we provide growing gov cons with a back office solution. We provide support in the areas of accounting, contracts, HR, and recruiting. I tell people, “It’s all the stuff you do not want to do. Focus on the teaming, focus on business development and growing your company, and we’ll take care of the compliance and the other stuff.”
MIKE MERCURIO: Katie, tell us about Republic Capital.
KATIE BILEK: Republic Capital Access is a finance company for government contractors. We provide non-recourse financing tied to receivables from government contracts. Ultimately, if you have a government contract prime or sub, we can step in and provide financing because ultimately we’re underwriting to the credit quality of an obligatory receivable, i.e. the federal government; or if you’re a sub to, say, Boeing or Lockheed, it’s basically relying upon your customer’s credit risk and allowing you, as the government contractor, to obtain financing.
ABOUT OFFIT KURMAN
Offit Kurman is one of the fastest-growing, full-service law firms in the Mid-Atlantic region. With over 130 attorneys offering a comprehensive range of services in virtually every legal category, the firm is well positioned to meet the needs of dynamic businesses and the people who own and operate them. Our ten offices serve individual and corporate clients in the Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, and Northern Virginia markets, as well as the Washington DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York City metropolitan areas. At Offit Kurman, we are our clients’ most trusted legal advisors, professionals who help maximize and protect business value and personal wealth. In every interaction, we consistently maintain our clients’ confidence by remaining focused on furthering their objectives and achieving their goals in an efficient manner. Trust, knowledge, confidence—in a partner, that’s perfect.
You can connect with Offit Kurman via our Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, and LinkedIn pages. You can also sign up to receive Law Matters, Offit Kurman’s monthly newsletter covering a diverse selection of legal and corporate thought leadership content.
MARYLAND | PENNSYLVANIA | VIRGINIA| NEW JERSEY | NEW YORK | DELAWARE | WASHINGTON, DC