Military Might

A powerful ally is helping this software company grow into a force to be reckoned with.
This story first appeared in the July 2006 issue of Entrepreneur. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Military uniforms may not be all that fashionable, but for Laura McCann, the Department of Defense is a very fashionable financier. McCann, 42, founded software company Zweave to manage and streamline apparel design and manufacturing. To get the business off the ground, she applied for and won a Small Business Innovation Research grant from the U.S. Navy. Now, five years later, SBIR grants make up about half of Zweave's revenue, which is expected to hit $5 million this year. The grants come primarily from the Army and Navy, but also from more obscure federal offices.

McCann scouts the Department of Defense for opportunities--networking, asking for referrals and cold calling. "The [Department of Defense] spends $2.5 billion on uniforms every year," says McCann. "[It] needs the same solutions as the commercial industry. Because of SBIR [grants], we were there first to build a product specifically to [meet its] needs."

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