Getting big government to bet on the little guy
Two veterans make government contracts attainable for small businesses
1100 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA
Not surprisingly, government contracting is big business in this region. It’s an industry founded on innovation, service, and reliability. We have some pretty heavy-hitters competing for each and every contract. But where does that leave the smaller firms? They’re nimble, innovative, agile and fierce but not as connected. That’s where military veterans Andrew Chang and Geoff Orazem come in. In 2014, they set out to build a community and workplace to help small, technology-focused companies succeed in the government contracting space. Today, Eastern Foundry is a thriving community of businesses who have created more than 2,500 jobs and won countless engagements. Creating a connected community of contractors means today’s “small” businesses are tomorrow’s heavy-hitters.
Geoff Orazem speaks passionately about the government contracting industry and what it does for the country. Despite failed attempts to start his own government contracting business, he has never been discouraged. Instead, he’s curious and determined. With a Harvard Law degree, 18 years of military service and no shortage of expertise in the government space, Geoff didn’t understand why he couldn’t get his foot in the door. As he continued to grow his network, he found that other similarly qualified friends faced that dilemma too. Geoff decided he needed to find a way to build a network of small businesses seeking government contracts, one that would help them eliminate barriers and position them for success. It was here that the idea behind Eastern Foundry was born.
Eastern Foundry is a first-of-its-kind small business workplace and accelerator with one mission: to help its members succeed in the federal government contracting market. The company does this by providing affordable office space, connecting members with industry partners, arranging personal meetings with primes and agencies, creating access to educational courses and producing timely industry events. Eastern Foundry needed to be geographically positioned for success while also creating a coworking space that provided a sense of community and met the security requirements of many government contracts.
In the early days of Eastern Foundry, Geoff merely had his passion, an idea, and some PowerPoint slides. As it turns out, that was all he needed. A mutual friend suggested that Geoff reach out to JLL’s Andy O’Brien because of his experience working on similar projects. Andy fully understood the economics of Geoff’s business idea and knew what it would take for him to be successful. With Andy’s guidance, Geoff and co-founder Andrew Chang launched Eastern Foundry in 2014. Andy helped them find an already built-out 20,000 square foot office space right in the heart of Crystal City, prime real estate for defense contractors. After only a year, Eastern Foundry had filled its Crystal City campus with more than 100 employees and in three years its membership had grown so much that the company added an entirely new 20,000 square foot office in Rosslyn. After just a few months, Eastern Foundry expanded again, this time adding 8,000 square feet to their Rosslyn location. Given its growth trajectory and attention-grabbing success, it’s likely Eastern Foundry will be in the market for more space soon.