May 2024 TechCast | Tech & Government: Behind the Scenes with Local Business Leaders

Moderated by Phoenix Business RadioX, industry leaders Lisa Rehurek, Jenny Servo, and Sonia Vohnout, discuss government contracting and funding and highlight how to be successful when applying for and receiving contracts or funds.

May 2024 TechCast | Tech & Government: Behind the Scenes with Local Business Leaders

Episode Overview

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In the 50th episode of Az TechCast, Karen Nowicki and Paisley Coxsey host a discussion on government contracting with Lisa Rehurek, Jenny Servo, and Sonia Vohnout, highlighting the nuances of state and local contracts, SBIR, and STTR programs. Lisa, Jenny, and Sonia stress the need for targeted research, understanding requirements, and proving technology feasibility, debunking misconceptions and outlining opportunities and challenges. The conversation provided insight to the nuanced application process and highlighting the strategic approach necessary for success in securing both government contracts and funding.


Dive into to unlock expert insights on government contracting and funding programs.

The RFP Success Company helps small and mid-sized businesses bid on state government RFPs.

Lisa Rehurek is a kind, spunky, rule-breaking entrepreneur who thrives on creatively pushing past fear, taking risks, chasing audacious goals, and inspiring others to do the same.

She is the founder & CEO of The RFP Success company, an impactful seven-figure business that helps small certified diverse and mid-market businesses secure millions of dollars in state government contracts.

Lisa is among the top 2% of women business owners, as well as a best-selling author, speaker, trainer and podcast host. Her new book, Winning in State Government: A Roadmap for RFP Success in 2023, is being released this fall.

Lisa recently led her company to be named one of Inc. 5000’s fastest-growing private companies in America.

Connect with Lisa on LinkedIn.

For over 30 years, Dawnbreaker has provided commercialization assistance to small, advanced technology firms that have received funding through the Small Business Innovation (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.

Organized around three centers, Dawnbreaker’s market research team develops hundreds of high, quality market research reports annually in fields as diverse as fusion, isotope separators, sustainable aviation, trauma induced coagulopathy and the use of AI to enhance weather predictions.

The business strategist team serves as coaches at every part of the commercialization spectrum: with companies that are applying for their first Small Business Innovation Research award as well as successful graduates of the SBIR/STTR programs that need a manufacturing assessment to help them scale up production. Dawnbreaker Design, the award- winning marketing communications department, assists companies develop and enhance their face to their potential customers and partners.

Since 1990 Dawnbreaker has provided commercialization mentoring and support to over 10,000 SBIR and STTR awardees. Cumulatively these firms have received more than $2.5B in Phase III funding. The company has worked closely with many of the federal agencies and offers Train-the-Trainer services to organizations that wish to enhance their ability to support advanced technology development within their community utilizing the SBIR/STTR programs.

Dr. Jenny C. Servo, the founder and President of Dawnbreaker® has more than 30 years of experience in the management of government contracts and in the design of programs for highly creative individuals. Change has been an on-going focus in her efforts with “transformational entrepreneurs”.

Cognizant of both the objectives and budget constraints of each federal customer, Dr. Servo combines the best practices from instructional design and change management to the development of unique programs to fill each customer’s objectives. Each program developed for Federal and state agencies are distinct and contain within them variations that address the heterogeneity of the companies participating in each program.

Dr. Servo prescribes to the policy of “management by objectives” and has been responsible for ensuring that program process and outcome match agency expectations for all programs across multiple agencies.

Since 1990 companies that have worked with Dawnbreaker through a government sponsored program have cumulatively received in excess of $2.5B in Phase III funding. Dawnbreaker has been recognized for its contributions, as well as its own growth and principles by the Tibbetts Award received in 2002, the Rochester Top 100 award in 2005 and 2008, the Rochester Business Ethics Award in 2009, the Best Place to Work Award in 2014 and Small Business Champion Award in 2018.

Dr. Servo is an avid writer and readily conveys best practices in innovation and entrepreneurship in innovation and entrepreneurship in books, articles and magazines on these topics. Most recently Jenny led the team that developed the report entitled “Women’s Inclusion in Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer Program” released by the National Women’s Business Council in August, 2020. Dr Servo also serves on the Invention, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Advisory Committee (IIEAC) to the Small Business Administration.

Follow Dawnbreaker on X.

OppsSpot provides consulting services for start-ups and small technology companies looking to commercialize their ideas through strategic partnering and Federal funds.

Specializing in the SBIR / STTR program and Technical and Business Assistance (TABA) services.

Sonia Vohnout is a seasoned professional with a wealth of experience in executive management and senior technical roles. With a background in co-founding successful ventures, she boasts nearly two decades of expertise in the SBIR/STTR program.

Sonia has consistently demonstrated her ability to contribute to the development, submission, and successful funding of proposals, employing a comprehensive “systems engineering” approach to enhance their quality and competitiveness.

Her impact in the SBIR/STTR space extends to consulting services, where she has played a pivotal role in helping startups and small businesses secure tens of millions of dollars in federal funding.

Recognized as a leading consultant, Sonia brings a depth of experience in commercialization strategies, forging strong relationships with small businesses, industry stakeholders, research institutions, state organizations, and incubators.

Her collaborative approach translates innovative ideas into tangible realities, reflecting her success in the field. Sonia holds a B.S and M.S in Systems Engineering from the University of Arizona, providing a solid academic foundation for her professional journey.

Connect with Sonia on LinkedIn.

Lisa Rehurek

Founder & CEO of The RFP Success Company

Jenny Servo

Founder & President of Dawnbreaker

Sonia Vohnout

Founder & CEO of OppsSpot LLC


About AZTechCast
The official podcast of the Arizona Technology Council, AZTechCast is dedicated to covering innovation and technology in Arizona and beyond. Through the art of the connected conversation, AZ TechCast’s hosts and guests share success stories, tech news and analysis about the region’s leading startups, companies and emerging technologies, as well as the latest industry trends and critical issues propelling Arizona’s growing technology ecosystem. Visit to learn more or to listen to recent episodes.

About Phoenix Business RadioX
Karen Nowicki is the owner and president of Phoenix Business RadioX. Amplifying the voice of business, Phoenix Business RadioX helps local businesses and professional associations get the word out about the important work they’re doing to serve their market, profession and community. A successful author, speaker and the creator of Deep Impact Leadership™ and SoulMarks Coaching™, Nowicki is a two-time recipient of the prestigious national Choice Award® for her book and personal development retreat. In addition, Nowicki has been an expert guest on regional TV and radio shows, including Fox Phoenix Morning Show, Sonoran Living, Good Morning Arizona, The Chat Room and Mid-Day Arizona. Recognized for her leadership and business acumen, she has been a regular contributor to many print and online magazines – publishing articles and blogs for business and education.


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