If you’re looking to increase your odds for success at the US Air Force’s Pitch Day, don’t ignore the need to conduct a thorough opportunity assessment.  This event has been getting a lot of good press, and so it should. It’s the type of innovation that is needed for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, it’s a great way for an agency to tap into the ingenuity that exists in small businesses. Pitch Day allows the Air Force to fast track technology that will without a doubt enable the US to further improve our national security posture. Secondly, it allows small businesses that don’t yet have serious traction in their capture management process to skip some of the growing stages and leap right onto the stage of federal contracting opportunities with a lead role.

However, in your excitement, don’t forget your “Ps” and “Qs” of capture management. Part of your capture planning should include a thorough opportunity assessment.  The idea of the Air Force handing out $40 million in one-page contracts all in a single day will make many small business entrepreneurs giddy with images of dollar signs and success. But is it a slam dunk for your company? Likely not. Consider that there will be a lot of competition, and furthermore, the Air Force is going to make sure they spend their money wisely. That’s why you must conduct an objective, head to toe opportunity assessment as you launch your bid to be one of the awardees. So, for an event like this, what should you consider in your opportunity assessment?  First, familiarize yourself with the process:

  1. The Air Force has posted the problems they want to solve. The focus is on the following areas:
  2. If the problem is in your wheelhouse and you have a solution, respond by February 6 at 8:00 EST.
  3. They will review your response and if they see it as a fit, will invite you to pitch your solution in person at the Pitch Day. Invitations will be sent out on or before February 15, giving you a few weeks to pack your bags.
  4. On March 6, you’ll make your pitch to the Air Force and their invited guests. If the Air Force likes your solution, then you will be presented with a contract right on the spot. Congrats!

Opportunity Assessment – Here is what to consider:

Now, your opportunity assessment must make sure your solution answers a problem that the Air Force has posted. The Air Force will not invite you if your solution doesn’t solve a problem that they are trying to solve. Your opportunity assessment has to be a deep dive to make sure that you have appealed to the primary audience.

If you get selected to pitch, it will be more than just the Air Force sitting in the bleachers to see you hit your home run. They have made this far more interesting by inviting what they term “Prime Industry Partners.” Prime industry Partners can be translated into names such as Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Microsoft, Amazon, SAIC, and others. In addition, the Air Force is also inviting “Investment Partners.” It is realistic to believe that there will be both Venture Capital and Angel investors also sitting in the audience.  While the Air Force may not select your innovative solution for a contract award, one of the large companies may see real potential for your solution in other agencies, perhaps even in the commercial sector.  There’s more than one way to come out of the Air Force’s Pitch Day as a winner!  As you do your opportunity assessment, you’ll want to make sure your pitch has appeal for all three parties attending.

Use this practical checklist for your own opportunity assessment:

  • Make sure your solution will appeal to the Air Force as your primary objective.
  • See how you can appeal to the integrators and investors in the audience without distracting for your primary goal of solving the Air Force posted problem.
  • Be clear and concise on the problem your solving, what your solution is and how it is superior to how the problem is currently being addressed. This includes benefits achieved in the outcome of the solution as well as savings in both time and cost.
  • Your company and your capabilities are the sum of your people. Make sure that the audience is well aware of why they can trust the people of your company to successfully provide the solution.
  • Be aware of who the Air Force’s large industry players are in your swim lane and spend some time learning about them. Capture2Proposal’s analytics is a great tool to use for this.
  • Make sure you have your PayPal account information handy – the Air Force will pull out their credit card to make this fast and simple.

To conclude, give careful consideration to your opportunity assessment. We wish you the best of luck if you decide to compete in this event.