Running strong: Data company thrives

What happens when you have a great idea that just needs some tweaking? For founders of Leesburg-based Colvin Run Networks, Nikhil Shenoy and Rob Baranowski, the answer lies with the Loudoun SBDC and the Virginia SBDC Network.

“Colvin Run was founded with the vision of revolutionizing permitting processes using blockchain technology,” Nikhil says. “We had a whitepaper and some market research, which scored us several high-level conversations with great people, but it wasn’t easy to pinpoint where to go from there in terms of building a business,” he adds.

The Virginia SBDC Network and the Loudoun SBDC were able to provide Nikhil and Rob with a methodology to put their idea to the test through real world applications and hands-on learning. They enrolled in the Innovation Commercialization Assistance Program (ICAP), a specialized program offered by the Virginia SBDC Network. “We started with ICAP, where we learned about the Business Model Canvas,” Nikhil explains. “Rob and I ‘got out of the building’ and did over 20 interviews in an intensive two-week session,” he adds.

The out-of-the-four-walls approach introduced by ICAP helped the team discover that permitting was the wrong platform for introducing their blockchain technology concept. The team decided to shift their approach. Nikhil and Rob applied to the Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) program. Colvin Run was successful.

“Colvin Run Networks has won four DoD SBIR Phase I awards in our first full year of business. These awards are for blockchain, big data analytics, predictive maintenance and inventory management, and data integration and fusion,” Nikhil explains. “Our strategy going forward is to build on each of these solution areas as its own line of business,” he adds.

Before the awards, the Colvin Run team relied on ICAP and Loudoun SBDC to help them find their initial footing, and they will continue to work with the SBDC for ongoing insights and strategy as they grow. “ICAP and Loudoun SBDC were critical early on,” Nikhil explains. “They helped us secure Virginia CIT grants to get started with the SBIR program and provided guidance on what it takes to win,” Nikhil adds.

“We use many of the principles learned in ICAP in our company strategy, particularly the Business Model Canvas and everything that goes along with it. It’s also great that ICAP has regular conference calls where we can hear from other entrepreneurs and continue to grow our strategic thinking,” Nikhil says.

Thanks to the strong partnership with the Loudoun SBDC, ICAP, and Colvin Run, the future is unlimited for this young company.

Colvin Run Networks won 4 SBIR grants this year, totaling $418,000.

Virginia SBDC