Beju Rao doesn’t hesitate to go back to the drawing board.
After only two years of operations, Amruta, Inc., Beju’s data analytics firm, had achieved $1.3 million in sales, but he wanted more. It was time to visit the University of Mary Washington SBDC. “I’m an adjunct professor at UMW, so I knew about the SBDC there,” he says. He met with Executive Director Brian Baker.
Beju’s goal was to gain entry into new markets, starting with the state and federal governments. “The SBDC helped me to get registered in the Electronic Virginia (eVA) system and the System for Awards Management (SAM) and to obtain Small-Women and Minority-owned business certification (SWaM),” Beju relates. He also met with procurement specialists from the Virginia Procurement Technical Assistance Program and the Virginia Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity, who helped him identify which agencies to target and how best to access them.
UMW SBDC’s first Innovation Roundtable, held in the Fall 2017, also helped Beju. Over a period of several months, roundtable participants learned how to assess and achieve their commercialization readiness. Or, as Beju put it — to go back to the drawing board! “The Innovation Roundtable was phenomenal,” he comments. “It helped me design a product and decide what product features would sell in the marketplace.”
The SBDC also helped Beju get a foot in the door of the healthcare marketplace. “For the past couple of years, we’ve been working on a patient enterprise system that uses hospital performance data to improve health quality outcomes,” Beju says. Brian introduced him to Eric Fletcher, Senior Vice President & Chief Strategy Officer at Mary Washington Healthcare. The project involved the use of data management and analytics to improve operating performance, patient assessment , and patient experience initiatives. Currently Beju is working with the SBDC to secure funding to launch the system in other health-care facilities. “It was very helpful to be able to test our system in a hospital setting,” Beju adds.
Beju’s drawing-board concept has already increased revenue for his company. “We are growing again,” he says. “We have more than a dozen clients now, so the cumulative revenue is $4.8 million.” That is 3.7 times more than 2017.
Beju credits the SBDC with helping him achieve that growth. “They are continually helping me,” he says. “I know I can reach out to Brian Baker or Susan Ball whenever I need help.” He plans to maintain his relationship with the SBDC. “I want to reach $20 million in the next three years.”
Beju has entered markets in the healthcare and financial industries. His next focus will be to improve the scale of Amruta and grow new clients. “The SBDC is a trusted advisor,” he concludes. “And I certainly appreciate that.”