Aaron Sean Poynton
CEO & Founder Omnipoynt Solutions
Contact: Aaron Poynton 202-919-OMNI
CEOCFO Magazine CEOCFO: Dr. Poynton, what was the vision when you started Omnipoynt Solutions?
Dr. Poynton: My vision is to help advanced technology companies in the aerospace, defense and government (ADG) markets by creating and implement sustainable, dynamic, and competitive business strategies with a single goal—to win. The innovation that occurs in the private sector is stunning, and this technological advantage is what gives the U.S. and her allies a significant competitive advantage over foes. I’ve played a part of taking these dual-use technologies to market, putting products into the hands of warfighters, police officers, border patrol agents, intelligence and other government customers, both in the U.S. and internationally to allied partners. However, during my time as an officer in the Army and then working for various technology companies afterward, I noticed there are many excellent ideas that never quite make it to the customer because companies struggle in the market; it is exceptionally competitive, complex and regulated. My idea for starting Omnipoynt was that I could identify some of these potential technologies that have application in ADG market and help these companies enter the market or grow. We do this by taking a multidisciplinary approach of combining three practice areas—business, government and global—to redefine problems outside of normal boundaries and reach solutions based on a new understanding of complex situations.
CEOCFO: What is your focus today?
Dr. Poynton: Omnipoynt partners with small to medium sized 4IR [Fourth Industrial Revolution] technology businesses. These technologies don’t make up the bulk of economic activity today, but in ten or twenty years they will. If we were in the 1980s, I would be sitting here talking to you about the potential of the internet or maybe the concept of the cloud. Instead, I am talking about technologies that will transform today’s economy to become the economy of the future. Those are technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain, cyber-physical, autonomous operations, miniaturized sensors, advanced biotechnology and life sciences, and advanced cellular & robotics. We partner with these companies to help them win the global ADG markets.
CEOCFO: When you are looking at a company to work with, or when a company comes to you, what do you look at to assess what they are doing? What do you understand because of your expertise so that you can sort of pick out the gems or likely gems out of many of the ideas that may not go anywhere?
Dr. Poynton: The real magic comes in trying to identify which ideas have potential by examining several factors—always starting with the customer’s point of view. I ask the foundational questions of, What problem are we trying to solve? What need exists? And, how does this solution address the customer’s need or solve the customer’s problem better, faster, or cheaper than an alternative solution? There are many ideas that never start with these foundational questions, and a great idea is developed without a customer to call home. That is great for the sake of knowledge or exploration. However, for a product or service to be commercially successful, companies have got to be solving that problem—ideally a big one. From there, we assess the feasibility of the solution, the team, the competitive advantage and its sustainability, and lastly, the risk vs. the reward.
CEOCFO: Where does your gut come into play or do you have to sometimes work against a gut feeling?
Dr. Poynton: For me, it’s always a blend of gut and data—"system 1” and “system 2” thinking, as its coined. I call it art vs. science. Some folks naturally gravitate towards the science: the framework, the analytics, the numbers. Data are essential, but in the real world, not everything fits neatly into a spreadsheet. Other folks gravitate towards the gut, or the art, and they minimize the role of data and analytics—or they don’t understand it. These are your cowboys, and this type of decision-making alone could be reckless and subject to our unchecked human biases. To be successful in the craft of decision-making, you need a blend of both. I think it’s probably 60/40—sixty percent art and forty percent science.
CEOCFO: Would you give us a couple of examples of how you crafted a project, in working with a specific client?
Dr. Poynton: Omnipoynt partners with small to medium-sized businesses, but those businesses could be business units within larger organizations. We currently work with companies from Fortune 500s down to startups. We start by listening to our customer’s needs and creating a customized engagement and specialized team to meet their goals. Our goal is to help our clients create, capture and deliver value in the new economy. We start developing a deep understanding of our client’s goals, assessing the environment, both internal and external, and developing a strategy for execution and alignment. We have a strong commercial focus and all activities are framed in the context of sales. Sales are essential for any business—it’s the “infantry” of business. Everything that we are doing needs to lead to sales—and everyone in the company has a role in selling and should adopt that mindset.
CEOCFO: Would you tell us about your recent partnership with Whysource?
Dr. Poynton: When I founded the firm late last year, my vision was for Omnipoynt to be a consulting and professional services firm. We got started with the consulting practice, and we have several clients that we work with now providing strategic and commercial advice, and we implement those commercial plans. However, many companies need human capital to implement the strategies that we recommended. These skills are in very high demand, especially now that we are in a tight labor market. Therefore, adding the professional services piece is an extension of our consulting practice, which allows us to implement the solutions that we have recommended. However, the advantage of Whysource and our partnership is we can now “staff up” a client with real efficacy. For example, through our consulting practice, we may recommend that a client seek a specific defense or government contract. This is likely a sporadic activity, and it does not make sense for companies to maintain their own staff, such as proposal-writers or FAR [Federal Acquisition Regulation] experts. This is a case where we would, through our professional services arm, staff the company with the appropriate talent who are knowledgeable on how to pursue and win these contracts. We have similar partnerships with other firms through our “connected services,” such as legal, capital, intelligence, and lobbying services. These partnerships allow Omnipoynt to focus on our core commercial competency while enabling us to provide a turn-key solution through the best partners in the industry.
CEOCFO: Do you do much outreach or are companies turning to you due to your reputation?
Dr. Poynton: Both, but much is referral-based. I have developed many strong relationships and have earned a reputation for being a hardworking, trustworthy person, and also very aggressive and ambitious when it comes to the goals that I set for my company and my clients, creating stretch goals for everyone. My goal for Omnipoynt and my clients is to “play to win.” Many companies play “not to lose.” My firm and my clients play to win—and there is a difference.