By Hannah Becker
Christian Kaman grew up in the Washington, D.C., area and earned his bachelor's degree in psychology from Bowie State University in Maryland. He is currently pursuing his master's degree in data science at the University of West Florida.
Kaman is the founder of TEKIMAX, a software company in Pensacola, Fla. He also volunteers on the operations team for the Defense Entrepreneurs Forum, a nonprofit organization that inspires, connects, and empowers people to promote a culture of innovation in the US national security community.
In addition to all things IT, he’s also passionate about basketball. He is a new father of twin boys, Theodore and Jean-Paul, and he is married to Cmdr. Lena Kaman, a Navy helicopter pilot and the commanding officer at Helicopter Training Squadron Eight (HT-8) at Naval Air Station Whiting Field, Fla.
Q. What's your military story?
A. I've been a proud military spouse since 2015. My wife broke her leg in 2013, and I was her physical therapy assistant. We like to joke that she really fell for me! She was stationed in Washington, D.C., at the time. Since then, we've lived in Newport, R.I., and now Pensacola.
Q. Tell us about your business.
A. I founded TEKIMAX, a software agency and consulting company that takes pride in taking care of businesses by developing technology solutions that take care of people. TEKIMAX works to transform obstacles into opportunities, problems into possibilities, and challenges into catalysts by providing fully customized technology solutions to companies, government agencies, and small businesses. Services include Software as a Service (SaaS), User Interface Design (UID), and Software development services.
TEKIMAX had an opportunity to support and help maintain our military edge with technology. In November 2019, as students during the Hacking for Defense (H4D) Course at the University of West Florida, my H4D team of Army veterans Daryl Meade and Lloyd Mageo, in collaboration with Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) came up with a cloud-based decision support solution called Enhanced Situational Awareness Platform (ESAP).
ESAP enhances situational awareness at all levels, reduces duplication of efforts, and improves processes across the command resulting in a well-informed force that is ready to fly, fight, and win. TEKIMAX was Awarded a Phase 1 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) fund to continue to develop our solution.
Q. When were you first "bitten" by the entrepreneurial bug? Was entrepreneurship your original career plan?
A. For me, entrepreneurship was not my original plan. I wanted the flexibility to create anything I wanted and a portable career, specifically as a military spouse, since we tend to only stay in one place for two to three years.
Q. What inspired you to take the plunge and start your own business?
A. I was raised in a house where entrepreneurship is a way of life. As a child growing up in Cameroon, Africa, I worked in my family's coffee business and watched how my grandparents and family members made, traded, and sold coffee during the harvest at the market. Later in my life, I watched my mom, a single mother of five children, go back to school for her master’s, open her own home health company, and then later open a nursing training school in Sterling, Va., called Clarys Nurse Aide Training Center. Observing my mom's dedication and focus, and the way she makes it look easy, was the starting point of my own company.
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Q. How has the military community and experience influenced your entrepreneurial journey?
A. Because of our constant change of environment as a military family, I had to learn to adapt and quickly adjust to my new environment when we move to new cities and states. For me, I believe that it gave me an edge in my entrepreneurial journey since I am able to shift and pivot my business according to the business flow of the city we PCS to.
Q. What's been the hardest part of starting your own business?
A. Learning all the rules and regulations of each state, because every state operates differently. That’s been challenging. As a solopreneur, you can sometimes get overwhelmed with the amount of work that needs to be done to accomplish things. Sometimes I have to juggle four to five roles all at once.
Q. What entrepreneur resources and programs have you found helpful in blazing your own trail?
A. Some of the entrepreneur resources that have helped me during my small business startup are Small Business Association (SBA) resources like SCORE, which provides a wide range of services to established and budding business owners alike.
Mentorship from local business owners also is extremely helpful. I've found a couple of mentors whom I admire for their character, skills, and work ethics that I call for advice from time the time.
As for programs, Steve Blank's course Hacking for Defense (H4D) at the University of West Florida taught me a lot. H4D is a class that offers the Department of Defense and Intelligence Community the opportunity to collaborate with talented student teams to develop innovative solutions to the nation's emerging threats. I learned the Lean Startup methodology, the Lean Model Canvas, and how to perform a customer discovery.
Q. Why do you think entrepreneurship is a good career opportunity for military spouses?
A. It gives you flexibility, the ability to pursue your passion and build business relations through networking, and it makes you goal-oriented. It is not easy to be an entrepreneur, but I believe military spouses can succeed at it.
Q. How has starting your business inspired growth in your professional life?
A. Starting my own business was a natural progression for my professional life. Throughout my journey, I've learned how to manage a team, conduct customer discovery research, and collaborate on projects utilizing tools I learned as a computer sciences and data science student to develop unique solutions tailored for my clients.
Q. What's currently on your radar? Tell us about your latest entrepreneurial project.
A. TEKIMAX recently submitted a proposal for a NASA Small Technology Transfer Research (STTR) Phase 1 grant. The Phase 1 grant will help with our research & development of T11.04-4976 - Augmented Digital Assistant 42 (ADA-42), which involves utilizing advanced machine learning and natural language processing to decrease the time required to locate and deliver reliable and relevant intelligence that has applications across the spectrum of business and NASA research operations. A variant of ADA-42 could be used to more accurately determine the veracity of a human intelligence source by cross-referencing the source's reported information.
We also are working on PX23-Navigation, which will support our military units maintaining situational awareness during Multi-Domain Operation activities in case of GPS-denied navigation, spoofing, and guidance. The integrated technology is a miniaturized gyroscope with improved sensitivity and performance for navigation applications requiring low-cost and reduced power devices.
Q. What advice would you give to other military spouses who want to start a business?
A. First, identify a profitable startup idea. Prepare for the future by reading trend predictions for your industry or market or check out universal trend forecasting publications. Going online and checking out what other people have come up with can be a great way to kick your own thought process into gear. I use Producthunt.com. Make sure to visit your local business development resources as well.
Connect with Christian Kaman
- Online: tekimax.com
- Instagram: @tekimax
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/christianum/
- Email: Christiank@tekimax.com
Hannah Becker is a marketing professional, tech innovator, and military spouse. She currently works as the creative director for Becker Digital and is an adjunct instructor of business, computer science, and economics.
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