This article originally appeared on the NH SBDC blog
Client Name: Matthew Reed
Business Name: DBEsearch
Business Website: DBESearch.com
Industry: Online Database
Location: Hooksett, NH
SBDC Advisor's Name: Andrea O'Brien
In 1983, the first Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) provision was enacted by Congress, requiring the U.S. Department of Transportation to ensure that small disadvantaged businesses must be included as suppliers on federal, state, and local infrastructure contracts. Since then, the policy of helping socially and economically disadvantaged minority, woman, veteran, and disabled owned businesses has expanded.
A 2017 Transportation Act made it a requirement for any government contractor to spend a certain percentage of dollars on diverse suppliers for road, railroad, and other infrastructure projects.
It was this requirement that essentially sent Matthew Reed, President of JCR Construction on the path to create DBEsearch.com. JCR Construction is a utility contractor who builds power lines for various utility companies in the Northeast.
DBESearch.com began as a side project for Matt during COVID lockdown. During a utility meeting via conference call of about 100 people, the power company was directing attendees to increase their diverse suppliers. While those on the call were in full support of doing so, they asked, “how do we find them?” The response was simply, “that isn’t up to us; it’s up to you.” Matt got off the call and immediately got to work on finding a solution.
Through extensive searches on Google, Matt learned that each state is required to keep its own list of diverse suppliers, but they weren’t all user friendly. Some had searchable databases, while others only had lengthy pdf documents. If the utility companies wanted to conduct their own search and compile their own lists, it was clear to Matt it would be a long, tedious task.
So, with DBESearch.com, Matt has done the work for them! Since December 2020 he has spent much of his free time building the directory, going state by state and entering it all manually. “It definitely took me a lot longer than I expected,” says Matt.
DBE is not what Matt would call a “passion project.” Rather, it’s a project based on need. He explains that DBE was created “to help people find diverse businesses and to consolidate the lists into a very simple way for people to search.”
An online searchable database of diverse businesses in the United States, DBESearch.com includes 48 states at this point, and Matt is working towards all 50 states. Instead of searching state by state, government funded contractors can now head straight to DBESearch.com for all the information they need. “When people are like, ‘this is really useful, thank you,’ that’s been the best part,” says Matt.
Entering all the information manually was extremely tedious. What hasn’t been tedious for Matt is working with NH SBDC and his Business Advisor Andrea O’Brien. He was taking an online SEO marketing course through UNH when Andrea, who was also in the course, reached out to him after hearing about his business. She recommended Matt connect with the SBDC for support.
Matt says, “SBDC has been instrumental in my company obtaining legal advice through the FAME program, public feedback and great networking opportunities, all in the last year.” The biggest help for him has been the networking. Andrea connected him to many programs he had never heard of before that are available to businesses for support.
Matt especially appreciated the NH SBDC program FAME (Financial Accelerator Marketing Expeditor + Legal), which connected SBDC clients with financial, marketing, and legal consultant partners for up to five hours at no cost. He explains, “because it’s a new industry for me, I didn’t really know the legal aspects and so forth, so that helped out a ton.” He was assigned a legal team, who in just a 45-minute conversation, was able to give him a rundown of everything he should have. “They could see the holes immediately, because they had the experience that I did not,” says Matt.
“SBDC is an invaluable resource for a startup to assist in building your company so you don't have to know everything. They advise you and give you the resources necessary. They really alleviate a lot of the heavy lifting and pressure.”
DBESearch.com’s future looks bright. Its market is based on regulatory demands, and as the federal government increases its diverse spend requirement, DBESearch.com’s goal is to be fully live in early 2023,continuing to build its database of DBE small businesses and also its prime contractor customer base.