We recently took time to catch up with Tarandeep Bawa, winner of this year’s Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Small Business Person of the Year Award for Maryland. Tarandeep is the President and CEO of ITegrity, which was recognized with the Mid-Atlantic Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Small Business Prime Contractor of the Year Award for 2022. Tarandeep shares his insight on the opportunity of 8(a), partnering through mentorship to ensure success, growth plans, and the importance of giving back.
Deciding to Grow
“I had a background in program management and business development when a prospective client offered me an opportunity to run a program, which I took. Over those first several years we grew organically as a company. In 2016, we came to a crossroads in our development at which time I had to decide if I wanted to continue what I was doing in that program as a lifestyle business or if we had what it took to do more. Ultimately, I decided on the latter and ITegrity was born. We were awarded our 8(a) certification in 2018.”
The Open Door that is 8(a)
Becoming an 8(a) business opens a door, but there is so much that has to happen to ensure success. Tarandeep says he engaged in a mentor-protégé agreement with a larger graduating 8(a), became ISO certified and received CMMI level 3 and top security clearance.
“We have grown ten-fold and expanded our capabilities to include cyber security, software engineering, PMO, telecommunications, Engineering Design, and Configuration Management. Within four years we have moved from being a subcontractor on 100 percent of our contracts to serving as Prime on 96 percent of our awards.”
There are many companies in the 8(a) program and beyond who provide similar services, as well as many companies with the same credentials competing for projects. In order to succeed, he says companies must find ways to differentiate themselves.
The SBA Advantage
The SBA offers the 8(a) certification to businesses as a developmental program to help them grow their business and become successful. When offered the chance to become 8(a) certified, ITegrity took the opportunity, including taking part in an 8(a) accelerator program through the Bowie Innovation Center.
“We took part in the accelerator program understanding that there is always something more to learn.”
A key distinguisher for ITegrity is the company’s strong culture of giving back—an initiative that is driven by Tarandeep and his family. Tarandeep gives back a percentage of the company’s annual profits and engages personally in charitable community activities. He feels that creating a company that cares about employees and the community at large, will draw people who are committed to the company’s mission and who are engaged in the work.
In taking a solid 17 years to learn about Federal Contracting before applying for 8(a) status and understanding that once you have an 8(a) status there is only so much time to use it, Tarandeep was well positioned for succeeding in what came next: leveraging existing relationships, writing proposals, and winning business.
Now ITegrity is preparing for the next stage, which will be graduating from the 8(a) status in six years. That preparation will include strengthening capabilities in emerging technology, gaining access to as many contracts as possible, and expanding its customer base. Currently spread across four agencies, the goal will be to at least double that within the next six years.
Plans also include ensuring that within a year or two of graduating, only 10 to 20 percent of contracts are awarded as 8(a).
Mentorship to other small businesses will also be part of the team’s strategy. Tarandeep is always willing to speak with people, to provide advice and lessons learned from his own experiences and will be looking to identify a new 8(a) getting into the program so he can provide the same mentorship and joint venture support he once received.
For now, Tarandeep’s advice to the industry is to focus on trust and following through. In the case of ITegrity, he hopes the name says it all: they deliver what they promise.
He also says proving capability is key when meeting with Government. Beyond knowing your pitch, he says you must do your homework, know your customer along with the problem they are trying to solve, and when you meet, be able to connect those dots and build rapport.
“ITegrity’s success is because of all ITegrity employees and is reflective of the excellence and commitment that our employees consistently provide to our customers. Our team approaches each opportunity with passion, dedication, and innovation—ultimately delivering the best results for our clients. We hire the brightest industry professionals and give them a platform to thrive. ITegrity places an emphasis on a culture immersed with empathy, trust, open communication, and career growth—which is evident in our team’s consistent recognition and long-standing relationships with Federal agencies.”
About Tarandeep Bawa
Tarandeep Bawa is the President and CEO of ITegrity. He has over 20 years of success in Consulting, IT/Engineering, Technology, Management, and Quality Improvement. Tarandeep received his Bachelor of Science in Information Systems, as well as a Master of Science in Information and Telecommunications Systems from Johns Hopkins University.
Founded in 2009 and based in Maryland, ITegrity is an SBA 8(a) certified small business located in Silver Spring, MD that provides innovative and cost-effective solutions in technical, engineering, and management solutions to the Federal Government. ITegrity is ISO 9001, ISO 27001, and ISO 20000 certified, as well as a CMMI Level 3 (SVC & DEV) rated business. Services offered include Software Engineering and Application Support, Program Management, Business Intelligence, Cyber Security, Engineering Design & Configuration Management, and Telecommunications.
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