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Tipping Point Solutions (TPS) is a service-disabled, veteran-owned, and SBA 8(a)-certified disadvantaged business based in Denver, Colorado specializing in immersive, interactive video products. A client of the National Center’s Procurement Technical Assistance Center since 2011, TPS has won numerous awards, including earning the top honor as the Veteran-Owned Business of the Year “Gold Winner.” We recently sat down with Rick Schmidt – Founder of Tipping Point Solutions, a former 20-year Navy Officer, and member of the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians – to learn more about Tipping Point and how the business has adapted during COVID-19. Rick and TPS were also featured as a winner of the Denver Business Journal’s 2020 Small Business Award.

1. Tell us a little about yourself and Tipping Point Solutions. Tribal affiliation, years in business, focus area, etc.

My name is Rick Schmidt, I formed Tipping Point Solutions in 2011 following a 20-year career as an Information Warfare Officer in the United States Navy. During my last assignment in the Navy, I served as Director of Training for the Center for Information Dominance, in Pensacola Florida. It was during this time I realized there was a lack of quality training solutions that effectively addressed the needs of organizations. In the nine years since I formed TPS, the business has grown to 82 full time employees and received numerous learning awards for our work.

Specializing in immersive, interactive video, TPS has differentiated our products and services by providing training materials that offer a rich and highly interactive learning experience. Additionally, TPS has developed an organizational structure and project management approach that minimizes inefficiency and risk while ensuring client engagement and resulting satisfaction.

Based in Denver, Colorado, TPS has supported customers across the country in both government and the private sector and has won numerous industry awards for our products. The company is Service-disabled veteran owned and an SBA 8(a)-certified disadvantaged business.

2. You have recently been honored with some pretty significant awards, both locally and nationally. Can you tell us about those awards?

TPS has won numerous awards over the years and was most recently awarded the 2020 Stevie Award, earning the top honor as the veteran-owned business of the Year ‘Gold Winner.’ 2020 also saw TPS named winner of the Denver Business Journal’s 2020 Small Business award. TPS has also been honored by the Small Business Administration (SBA) as the 2019 Colorado Small Business of the year, was an inductee in the 2019 Colorado ’50 Companies to Watch,’ and is an INC 500 recipient—recognized for our 3rd consecutive Inc. 50000 award with a revenue growth of over 420% and ranking 1090.

3. How has your business been affected by COVID-19?

I’m not sure I would say that TPS was prepared for this crisis, but it certainly helped that in 2018 the company began to embrace telework in its hiring strategy. This forced the company to institute policies and virtual collaboration methods supporting a distributed workforce that really did not exist before that time. This allowed employees working at our Michigan, Arizona, and Colorado facilities to more quickly adapt to remote work.

I think the greatest lesson learned from this situation is that every contract needs to have a contingency of operations and disaster recovery plan that outlines ways we will quickly adjust the project should a situation like COVID-19 happen again. Another lesson learned is a clear understanding of how to properly balance employee health privacy with the need to support the organization’s larger interest of public health and safety. In my years in business I have never found a time where this was even a question but encountered a couple of situations with the pandemic where it presented real conflicts of interest.

4. You have worked with our PTAC office for several years. How have you benefited from that relationship?

I have been affiliated with the National Center PTAC since forming the company in 2011. PTAC has proved to be a great resource for small businesses, offering seminars on government contracting and assistance with locating potential government contracting opportunities.

5. What advice would you give to other aspiring Native entrepreneurs?

My primary advice for Native American entrepreneurs is to recognize the benefits you have in government contracting and the vast network of fellow Native American business owners and tribally owned companies. It took me nearly 5-years to realize my eligibility for the SBA 8(a) program and sometime thereafter to begin engaging larger, more established Native businesses. As Native American business owners, we belong to a unique community and I have found it hugely rewarding to work alongside my fellow Native American community.