Dr. Ramsey Smith: Helping Engineers and Researchers Find Opportunities
With his experience in working in NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center for over 10 years, Dr. Ramsey Smith shares advice for technology-focused businesses and his experience in dealing with the organization and building his own company afterwards.
Dr. Ramsey Smith earned his bachelor’s degree in Chemistry in Morehouse College and his doctorate degree in Atmospheric Chemistry at Howard University. He also pursued a Postdoctoral Fellowship at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GFSC).
During his time in NASA, he started as a Research Space Scientist and transitioned as a Center Lead for the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program and the Program Lead for the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program at NASA GSFC.
Currently, Dr. Smith is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Geaux Innovation Agency, an agency that provides strategy, research & development, and commercialization services for science and technology based entrepreneurs, universities, and investors.
He is also the Chief Strategy Officer of Sou Sou Investment Solutions, a global financial technology and consulting firm that provides financial management, training and development, and consulting services.
MANAGING NASA’s SBIR/STTR PROGRAM
Dr. Smith started in NASA as a postdoctoral fellow and then as a research scientist. After almost five years, he transitioned as the SBIR/STTR Infusion Manager of NASA.
During this time, Dr. Smith managed the policies and activities for them to engage with other government agencies. He primarily believes that the technology from various agencies such as the Department of Defense, the U.S. Navy, and NASA should overlap with one another.
He also looked for issues and opportunities in dealing with small businesses in terms of commercializing their technology within the agency. He encouraged companies to understand the importance of pivoting their business and how to deal with the technology from ideation to creation.
MANAGING GEAUX INNOVATION AGENCY
Dr. Smith’s company works with businesses in laying out their goals and providing inputs to strengthen their strategies. They also help accelerators in preparing for a pitch competition that will happen.
“(We) plan that out over months where when the pitch competition application opens there, they have everything finished. And they get accepted. They won on national and international stages doing this.”
Apart from that, they also help their clients who are dealing with problems from analyzing the situation into providing input on how to move forward.
“You have to really take a step back and be compassionate and have empathy at that point. (However), we’re not going to solve the problem for them. We can work together on a solution that they’re comfortable with and we’re comfortable with because we want everybody to take ownership on the path forward. So it can be sustainable for them as an organization.”
ADVICE FOR TECHNOLOGY-CENTERED BUSINESSES
One mistake that Dr. Smith sees businesses make is that they didn’t know how to move from ideation to market.
1. Have A Plan.
In order to avoid this problem, businesses should have a plan. There are a lot of questions to be answered in building technology-based products. Some of these include:
“How do you plan to develop this? When do you plan to roll out your products for someone to use?… How do you plan to prototype it? When do you plan to prototype it? Are you protecting us along the way? When do you see cash flow coming into your organization and where will it come from? Does it come from personal investments? Do you have investors lined up? Do you already have customers?”
2. Know How To Write Proposals.
You should also understand how to write a proposal for various technical projects. If you don’t have people who don’t have experience in the subject matter, then you should find someone who knows the technicalities.
However, if your business knows how to do so, then you should also recognize that solicitations are different so you should write the proposal in a way that will address the needs of the specific agency.
Remember that although there are outlines how to write a proposal, the instruction varies and priorities change from within subtopic to subtopic, and from agency to agency.
“Yes, they have guidelines, but there’s no such thing as writing a… someone having a silver bullet or a magic wand to write a winning proposal.”
3. Learn From Partnership.
Other ways to avoid this problem is working with a partner or other business that has the same values and goals as yours. This is a good way to learn from one another and to use each other’s experience to land on various opportunities.
Consider that government contracting is not a one day course, it is something that you learn over time. Besides, this is an educational opportunity where you are still making money.
“Sometimes we fixate on where we can lead instead of where we can partner. We’re so used to being subject matter experts in our area.We don’t think about someone needing us to be a subject matter expert where they can lead and we can all work together and still accomplish our goal.”
If you want to watch the full video of the interview with Dr. Ramsey Smith as he shares his advice for technology-focused businesses and his experience in NASA and building his own company, then be sure to click the link down below.
060: Dr. Ramsey Smith – Helping engineers and researchers find applications for their technologies