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50 Fastest Growing Companies of the Year 2021

Rob Rosenberger, CEO of Blackdragon, Speaks to The Silicon Review: ‘We’re the Ultimate Matchmaking Platform for Freelance Professionals throughout the Federal Contracting Industry’

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“Blackdragon is an innovative online platform that is revolutionizing the way federal contracts are identified, analyzed, pursued and ultimately won by bidders while simultaneously empowering freelancers to monetize their unique expertise.”

Blackdragon, the only-of-its-kind consultancy, helps federal contractor bidders win targeted government contracts unlike ever before. It’s the premier matchmaking platform throughout the federal contracting industry facilitating custom Dream Teams of subject matter experts (SMEs) that self-form within its proprietary online marketplace to create turnkey winning proposals on behalf of bidder clients.

Founded in 2015, the company is headquartered in Tysons Corner, VA.

Interview Excerpt: Rob Rosenberger

Q. Blackdragon, the only true gig economy marketplace in the federal industry, helps bidder clients win contracts like no other. Would you like to elaborate on this a bit more?

Blackdragon is a platform business generating value by using a combination of technology, data modeling, predictive analytics, and social connectivity to facilitate exchanges of goods and services between two user groups.

The two groups in Blackdragon’s platform are: “Buyers,” who are federal contractor firms seeking to win competitively awarded contracts with the US Government, and “Sellers,” who are freelance experts of various backgrounds, talents, and relevant experiences most adept at creating winning bids for targeted government contracts.

A huge improvement on the outdated approaches of conventional consulting shops, our platform quickly identifies matches between the right buyers and right sellers via our on-demand integrated product suite. Buyers purchase modular products triggering our matchmaking system to crowdsource the optimum mix of the most capable, relevant, and accomplished freelance experts that form into custom virtual ‘dream teams’ to create each product, custom tailored for the client. These comprehensive teams of competitively selected experts, tailored perfectly to complement each client’s combination of strengths and weaknesses, are sourced from thousands of people worldwide, assembled, and launched for the project (all done virtually) often within a few hours…sometimes within minutes.image

Our clients range from Top 10 mega-firms with thousands of employees to tiny firms with a handful of personnel. Clients register for free to participate in our online marketplace and purchase our products a la carte as needed.

The critical asset of the Blackdragon platform is its community and the resources, experiences, and networked relationships of its members. Our platform derives much of its value from the community we serve. Platforms do not own the means of production like pipeline companies. Instead, they create the means of connection. Focus areas of Blackdragon’s strategy include shifting from controlling resources to orchestrating them, from optimizing internal processes to facilitating external interactions, and from increasing customer value to maximizing ecosystem value.

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Platform business models enable companies to expand at a pace unprecedented in human history. When a non-platform business gains a new customer, it adds only one new relationship – one buyer of products or services. When Blackdragon’s platform adds a new user, that person (or bidder company) is not just a single relationship but rather a potential relationship with all the platform’s users. In other words, platforms grow exponentially rather than linearly. Network effects occur and our products become more valuable as more people use it. As a result, the larger the Blackdragon platform expands the faster it responds with higher quality, more cost-effectiveness, and exponential scale.

The Blackdragon platform is a digital environment, which means that it can scale up and down rapidly at near-zero cost. Additional users and transactions between them create little load, meaning rapid growth and expansion are easy to manage.

Q. Given that Blackdragon is a modern-day free company, how does it plan to revolutionize the way new contracts with the US Federal Government are identified, pursued, and ultimately won?

The supply chain is no longer the central accumulator of business value. Now networks connect businesses and individuals, enabling them to exchange value among themselves. This is the essence of how platform business models work. Networks are the new aggregator of business value. Today’s most valuable businesses are those that can build and orchestrate large networks, not those that can aggregate and centralize large amounts of resources under one roof. In the old model, scale was a result of investing in and growing businesses internal resources. But in the networked world, scale comes from cultivating an external network built on top of the business.

Blackdragon’s online Marketplace platform combines powerful aspects of the gig economy, big data and predictive analytics, business automation, and connectivity that completely rethinks the value chain. However, we understand that matchmaking alone isn’t everything. Our success also depends on identifying and mitigating risks for our user groups; we are matchmakers and risk minimizers.

Blackdragon’s unique selling point is its integrated suite of on-demand products and services designed to help bidder clients win targeted contracts in the shortest time, with the lowest investment risks, and minimal disruption to daily operations. It is a powerful collection of complementary attributes for winning, sharing a common objective, and easily interchanging data between products.

Our portfolio of services is made available predominantly via fixed price with defined terms and delivery dates. Our clients can better optimize their precious bid and proposal (B&P) resources for each opportunity by flexibly investing in the right combination of on-demand services that best match their budget and pursuit ambitions. These products and services are robust yet universal enough to complement existing client endeavors to maximize PWin perfectly… or be mixed and matched to complete outsourced alternatives.

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Blackdragon distinguishes itself from competitors in that we directly influence the federal market by participating in it, whereas our competitors simply respond to it. Blackdragon is a global coalition of freelance talent operating autonomously to monetize its collective strengths, experiences, and relationships for the projects it desires on behalf of selected clients—compared to conventional consulting shops going bidder to bidder peddling resumes by the hour for support roles. Blackdragon teams proactively exert seller power by determining contracts they know how to win, selecting the best-fitting bidder client on whose behalf to win, and for the fees we desire. In contrast, hourly consultants yield to buyer power of the bidder firms who hire them and control their work conditions, performance, and compensation.

In the business world of yesterday, ownership was everything. In today’s on-demand world, access is better than ownership. This very simple concept is causing reverberations throughout the economy, spurring on tectonic shifts across entire industries. “Access is better than ownership” is a fundamental principle of the on-demand economy. It asserts that it is better to rent something temporarily than to buy it permanently.

That said, Blackdragon’s innovative business model is liberating and empowering compared to the old way of going company-to-company and competing with peers, begging to get hired full-time or part-time in a support role. Or worse, dealing with long waits to receive a call or email for a job prospect that too often does not fit well, does not pay very well, includes painful commutes, or all the above.

Q. The vision of Blackdragon is to become the predominant marketplace serving the US federal contracting industry. What steps do you take towards achieving your vision?

The founding mission of Blackdragon is to improve the efficiency of the federal contracting industry, where contractors compete to win contracts with the US government. When it comes to winning new contracts, this vast industry is renowned for its reluctance to change and, as such, still operates much the same way it has for the past several decades. Largely, human-to-human interfaces between government (buyers) and industry agents (sellers) that are grossly inefficient, biased, limited, capricious, and neither scale nor transfer very well from one bidder firm to the next. We set out to fundamentally transform how target contracts are identified, analyzed, qualified, pursued, and ultimately won by bidders. Our objective was to establish a new paradigm whereby the right bidders consistently win the right contracts while streamlining market inefficiencies caused by absent or uncompetitive bidders.

“Blackdragon is a global coalition of freelance talent operating autonomously to monetize its collective strengths, experiences, and relationships for the projects it desires on behalf of selected clients—compared to conventional consulting shops going bidder to bidder peddling resumes by the hour for support roles”