Manish Malhotra is the founder and CEO of Unissant, a growing software development and consulting company from the Northern Virginia Area. Malhotra spoke to WashingtonExec about his company and the challenges faced by small businesses in this tough economic environment. We also asked Manish, a tech nerd, what his current favorite “gizmo” is as well as what other Washington, D.C. Area government contracting companies he admires.
Much like WashingtonExec, Malhotra is “a huge fan of networking and meeting people.”
WashingtonExec: What is your vision for Unissant?
Manish Malhotra: Unissant means, to integrate, to bring together. First and foremost, I envision Unissant being a capable IT services and Solutions Company known for being responsive, price competitive, and a trusted partner to industry (including government); a company that serves customers that have a strong desire to utilize their informational assets to improve their ability to plan, execute, and manage their business. I also see Unissant as a tremendous place to work for customer-focused and innovative individuals who enjoy being part of a team-oriented organization focused on changing the way our clients do business.
WashingtonExec: How has the federal budget situation impacted your business?
Manish Malhotra: Fortunately, we have substantial business in both the commercial and federal sectors, so it has not been as painful as it could have been. The budget uncertainty and delays have slowed the procurement processes down tremendously and have therefore prevented us from helping our customers as rapidly and effectively as we would have otherwise. Moreover, it is not evident that the same uncertainty and delays will subside with the next fiscal year. This makes planning, hiring, and committing capital a riskier endeavor than in previous years for all market participants.
WashingtonExec: Do you feel like the federal government is being as proactive as they could be in supporting small businesses? What business have you gained as a result of government efforts to focus on small disadvantaged businesses?
Manish Malhotra: We have benefited from government efforts regarding small business. We are currently priming our second project at HUD, hold several contract vehicles at agencies like NIH and FAA, and have attracted the attention of large system integrators due to our 8(a) SDB status. So, the overall designation of set-aside contracts and small-business allocation percentages for larger procurements has been beneficial to us. However, the natural tendency for agency decision makers is to focus on known, presumably less-risky firms – which tend to be the larger, more established companies.
WashingtonExec: There are over 10,000 IT focused small businesses out there. What does a business like Unissant do to separate itself from the crowd?
Manish Malhotra: The distinction when you are one in 10,000 needs to be responsiveness, creativity, and price. We are strong on all counts. We have an excellent senior management team that includes industry thought leaders. We strive at being excellent at what we do. This includes both discussing and developing solution concepts with our clients and implementing the selected solution path in an efficient manner. We take pride in our team of business technology experts and look to leverage their talents and ideas to continuously improve our offerings and service delivery. We are a CMMI Level 3 certified small-growing, hungry and innovative firm with strong delivery frameworks focusing on observable, incremental changes in three (3) to six (6) month timeframes. This has the effect of both mitigating risk, while increasing our customer’s return on investment. We believe that this is a better balance of risk / return than many of our smaller and larger competitors.
WashingtonExec: What companies in the market today set the standard for you? Who are your benchmarks and examples of success?
Manish Malhotra: If one looks at large businesses now to what they were twenty to forty years ago, they have all descended from their roots of being a small business. INDUS and Attain for rapidly grown (and still growing) solution-oriented firms. Two-different growth models and rates, but they were both where we were not too long ago and have succeeded in taking the next step in business maturity. SAIC, CSC, and Northrop Grumman for scope and depth of services. No one serves the federal market with information technology services more broadly than they do. Finally, IBM for their holistic viewpoint on the combination of both business information products and services across commercial, local, and federal markets. Their “smarter-planet” campaign is really brilliant.
WashingtonExec: You are a gadget freak. What do you anticipate to be the next revolutionary gizmo to hit the market?
Manish Malhotra: So far I am in love with my iPad and McBook Air– or in general every product that Apple comes out with as I truly believe they are one of the most innovative companies of this decade. I recently saw an excellent documentary floating around on facebook called – “A Day made of Glass” – depicting thin sheets of glass being used in every possible way as possible – from Calendar TV’s to Phones to Appliances. Now that will be cool. I am sure it’s coming.
WashingtonExec: What activities do you enjoy doing outside of work?
Manish Malhotra: I am a huge fan of networking and meeting people. In addition I like assisting other small businesses and the community in general in every possible way I can. In terms of activities, I like golfing, riding motorcycles and listening to soft music.