It is rare these days to come across an individual with rock-solid work ethics and core values. With the unique ability to focus on the trees without losing sight of the forest, Rob Rosenberger is one such forward-thinking leader. Rob is the CEO and Co-Founder of Blackdragon – a model that is changing the face of the way in which businesses go after and win large public sector contracts.
Rob has been an entrepreneur since his childhood. He started his first business at age of 9 and managed 42 employees by age 16. It is his entrepreneurial spirit that keeps him going. When navigating a complex business, Rob surveys the business conditions and develops a plan to achieve the goal. He brings the right people in at the right time to provide exceptional solutions to the customers. He is self-motivated and can work through any dire situation.
Most Accomplished Business
As a Visionary, Founder, and CEO, Rob’s journey since launching in 2015 has been both rewarding and challenging. Blackdragon is the only bona fide platform business throughout the US federal contracting industry that serves as a matchmaking marketplace for freelance experts worldwide combining powerful aspects of the rising Gig Economy that completely rethinks the value chain.
Blackdragon is the only-of-its-kind full outsource solution throughout the federal industry that wins entire contracts on behalf of bidder clients whereby the freelance experts (aka, “Dragons”) self-form into ‘dream teams’ who choose which client they want to win for and are heavily incented to win. Often, Dragon opportunists self-form before they know which client will sponsor a project for them. So, Blackdragon is unique in that it does not passively wait for the phone to ring when a prospect client needs help. Rather, the company frequently initiates outreach to select bidder firms exploring if it can win an upcoming target contract on their behalf. The firm is the first to apply this inverse ‘take charge’ business approach.
It’s Better to Pursue Fewer Bids
Talking about the challenges Rob mentions that most bidder firms are operated more for efficiency than effect. Many organizations prioritize enforcement of regimented internal processes to go about preparing responses to government solicitations more than they allow each bid team the liberty to be resourceful and creative necessary to win the contract. This cookie-cutter approach to all bids is not highly effective although it helps manage efficiency. They try submitting the maximum possible number of proposals each year using the least amount of people with the lowest costs—this creates resource bandwidth challenges and can also lead to employee burnout.
Rob believes trying to be a competitive bidder while staying under an aggressive budget for each bid is a fool’s errand. It would be better to pursue fewer (and better fitting) bids with greater freedom, resourcefulness, and intensity than to dilute the competitiveness of each bid for the sake of submitting more proposals.
Another challenge he mentions is that talent mismatching is a common occurrence among bidder companies. Too often, bidders attempt to pursue winning all new contracts with the same core personnel and static resources. Sometimes the combination of skillsets, experiences, and resources are better fitted to the task of winning than others. Unfortunately, this constricted concept limited by conventional employment rarely yields consistent positive results and it doesn’t scale. A better way is to dynamically assemble dream teams of talent, experiences and resources tailored for each pursuit. That is what Blackdragon provides—on demand dream teams of experts united for the purpose of wining each contract for the client.
Leading an Advanced Technical Team
Rob and his team have forged many groundbreaking ways to combine the power of technology, predictive analytics, social connectivity, and crowdsourcing. The team has invented numerous innovative methodologies for boosting clients’ potential to win the right contracts they pursue. Blackdragon continues revolutionizing the science and art of winning contracts for its bidder clients. Below are some initiatives currently underway:
- Pushing the proprietary technology to the edge for users worldwide
- Improving algorithms for more robust matchmaking and forecasting
- Enhancing functionality and user interface throughout the platform
- Increasing scale and leveraging the power of network effect across our expanding platform
A Straight Shooter
Rob’s idea of impactful leadership is twofold. It moves an organization towards achieving goals while also tending to individual growth, as he believes that successful leaders must do more than just ensuring the work gets done. Focusing on the bigger picture while cultivating a culture of personal development to build new leaders is also critical.
Always leading by example, Rob has a blended style of leadership centered around agility with a focus on maximizing an organization’s collective strengths. He shares information with employees about things affecting their work responsibilities. He often seeks the opinions of others before approving major final decisions.
Factors that had Great Impact
Below are some of the life factors that have shaped Rob’s journey:
- Being a member of Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M University
- Being a flyer in Navy reconnaissance squadron (during Gulf War, early 1990’s)
- Being a member of CIA who ended up working in and/or supporting multiple agencies throughout the US Intelligence Community
- Being a special Advisor to the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Pentagon
- Corporate leader for federal contractor firms rising to the rank of C-level
- Congressional Fellow at the US House of Representatives
Bringing People Together
Rob views people as a pool of talent to be developed and apply a coaching style that helps unlock each person’s potential. His preference is to minimize direction to help people tap into their own ability to achieve what they are capable of. Opposite of ruling with an iron fist, he leans towards trusting highly skilled, experienced employees to be self-starters, motivated and determined problem solvers.
Ultimately, Rob is a collaborator who believes people come first so he likes to get up close and personal paying attention to and supporting the needs of team members. He encourages harmony and cooperative relationships within teams while smoothing conflicts among team members, keeping them focused on the tasks at hand while reassuring them during times of stress.
The most significant and unique way Rob and his team have contributed to the federal contractor community is they are the first to have pioneered a way for individual freelance experts to wield more influence over the federal contracting market that has historically been governed by bidder companies more than the people. It is a seismic power shift from buyer power to seller power. Imagine the analogy of professional athletes getting to pick the teams they want come together to win for instead of the other way around.
When asked about necessity for businesses to align their offerings with newer technological developments Rob mentions that tomorrow’s successful businesses must strengthen their alignment with advancing technology, device connectivity, and a virtual workforce. Pipeline businesses are not only being replaced by platforms, but platforms are transforming industries altogether. Legacy industries populated by pipeline businesses are fading away while new ones are taking their place. The on-demand ‘as-a-service’ model combined with increasing trends for subscription-based offerings are redefining traditional consulting landscapes.