Public procurement is a mammoth market worth $11 trillion annually, or 12% of global GDP, according to the World Bank. However, much of this funding has traditionally gone to large corporations.
ShaKeia Kegler is on a mission to make government procurement more inclusive. Her Fort Lauderdale-based startup, GovLia (pronounced “lia” for “liason”), develops tools to help small businesses discover and land contracts with public sector organizations. “We’re helping small businesses work with one of the largest consumers in the world,” Kegler told Refresh Miami. “This enables them to grow their business by obtaining revenue” from these massive public organizations.
Equally, GovLia empowers entrepreneurs “to take advantage of small business programs and small diverse business programs” targeted at under-represented groups based on race and gender. On the flip side, GovLia’s tools are helpful for public procurement experts, who are often on the lookout for companies that will diversify their supplier base.
Last month, the company launched GovLia Academy, which consists of a series of videos and written content to help small businesses kick start their work with the government. The course also provides materials such as example letters of explanation and a capability statement generator – tools that aim to break down the barriers small businesses face when entering public procurement processes.
Already, GovLia Academy has almost 40 students. “Four are already registered and are working on the process of becoming certified with the federal government,” said Kegler, “and two are focused on state and local government opportunities.” The students represent a diverse range of industries including logistics, marketing, and HVAC.
The startup’s main offering is what Kegler called a “centralized solution for decentralized agencies.” Through GovLia, small businesses are able to set up a profile with their basic information. They can then more efficiently bid for procurement opportunities. While GovLia currently focuses on state and local procurement opportunities in Florida, the startup has plans to expand into the federal contracting space.
The platform has a freemium model, and is always free for small businesses and for agencies trying to find small and minority-owned businesses. Larger companies and enterprise contractors pay a subscription for the platform. Since being established four years ago, Kegler noted that GovLia’s client base has grown to include a diverse range of small business owners, “from writers to painters to electrical companies.”
Kegler reports that the startup has been growing steadily, and now employs four people. She is excited by the rapidly-growing South Florida tech ecosystem: “We’ve been bootstrapped this entire time. But the opportunity to network with different pools of people and gain capital is huge.”
Kegler highlights the Center for Black Innovation and Endeavor Miami as key organizations promoting the work of minority and female founders. However, she said that “it’s a little early to determine what this new tech hub will be like,” and hopes that newcomers are “responsive and receptive” to Miami’s message of diversity in the world of tech and beyond.
Interested in learning about public procurement? Check out GovLia’s website here.
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