Meet the Honorees

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PVM, Inc.

PVM delivers digital services that help public sector teams unlock the power of their data for good and maximize the value of their investments in data systems.

Minority Owned by: Minority, Veteran 
Founded in: 2010

County

Pinellas County

Industry

Information Technology 

Employee Growth 2019 - 2022

79% Increase

Revenue Growth 2019-2022

28% Increase

Pat Mack

Founder, President & CEO

What are some big pivotal points that got you to where you are today?

I think I can break it down to four major pivotal points in my background that have gotten me to where I am today. First, when I learned how to program from reading Byte magazine when I was just nine – that sparked my love for technology that has stayed with me ever since.

Second was joining the Navy when it came time for college. At that time, I earned a degree in Computer Science on a 4-year academic/ROTC scholarship. Five years later, I earned my Master of Science degrees in Computer Science and Operations Research and graduated with distinction from the Naval Postgraduate School, in Monterey, California. My time in uniform shaped me both as a person and professionally. My incredible experiences during this stage of my life—working with some of the country’s finest academics and leaders, completing several operational deployments across the globe, and in the later stages of my service, leading acquisition programs that enabled the Navy to meet its requirement to use data to drive crucial decisions—have all led me to where I am today.

The third point came when I retired from the Navy and was contemplating what to do next. I was still extremely passionate about delivering technology solutions that made my shipmates’ lives easier. Through my experiences during my Naval Service, I realized all the warfighting needs weren’t being met with the Command-and-Control technology we were delivering. So, I founded PVM, where today, I am the President and CEO. Over the last decade, PVM has grown from a one-man startup to a 50-ish-person company supporting crucial missions, like helping the CDC better use its data to better respond to public health emergencies or partnering with the City of St. Petersburg on ways to improve data transparency with citizens.

And fourth, was moving PVM back to my hometown of St. Petersburg and becoming a member of the St. Petersburg Maritime Defense and Technology Hub. This is a city-backed tech incubator of sorts that is filled with amazing companies. I am so proud to be back and have the opportunity to contribute to this community that has given so much to me. I couldn’t be happier that my career journey has brought me home to the city that I absolutely love.

Was there an ah-hah moment that led you to your entrepreneurial journey or the idea for your company?

My real ah-hah moment came as a culmination of my experiences in the Navy. I realized that the current technologies just weren’t meeting the need, and firmly believed that I could help improve the missions of my fellow sailors, even on the other side of things. I truly believed in this mission and was ecstatic to have the opportunity to help enhance government technological processes and solve some of the tough challenges using my technology and data skills.

PVM is a small digital services company that helps public sector teams unlock the power of their data for good and maximize the value of their investments in enterprise systems. The real value we bring to our customers is our ability to help them solve their most complex data challenges with a mission-focused approach. Our customers often serve missions that are critical to national security, public health, and more, and we help them to make sure they have the technologies in place and access to the data they need to achieve them.

For example, we help the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) develop and manage critical disease outbreak and surveillance systems—everything from building them to integrating important data—to help keep the nation safe from diseases like salmonella and listeria. Another example, we also partner locally with the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg to improve community event facilitation locally and better use community data to improve the city’s health outcomes by serving as a technical advisor and implementing new technology systems.

These are just a few examples of how PVM delivers value to our customers. At the end of the day, we are all about unlocking the power of data for our customers so they can use it to make more informed decisions and get closer to accomplishing their mission objectives.

I am so proud of the working environment we’ve created at PVM where everyone belongs, and we work together to make that mission-impact I’ve been talking about. Our company culture is a unique blend of customer focus, mission-driven purpose, and a steadfast commitment to our core values — integrity, diversity, authenticity, mission-driven, and belonging. We take pride in not just being a team but a vibrant community of diverse individuals who share a common passion for solving complex problems for our customers. Our culture revolves around delivering value, fostering innovation, and nurturing leadership skills. And as I always say, “expecting the best” from everything we do.

 

One key aspect that defines us is our remote-first approach. We’ve been working in this model since well before the pandemic! We truly believe in empowering our teams with the flexibility to work from wherever they are. This has helped us build a diverse team with all kinds of backgrounds and talents that come together to work on our customers’ challenges. And of course, we do prioritize getting the team together regularly when we can. For example, we recently had about half of the company meet in St. Petersburg for a fantastic fiscal-year kickoff meeting at the Hub. We’ve found this balance of working remotely while also gathering at key times to do some team building and in-person planning has driven PVM to what it is today.

First and foremost, our mission-focused approach sets us apart from many others. We take pride at PVM in hiring team members who have first-hand experience with our customers’ work—for example, we have multiple former CDC team members working on our public health projects, etc. This strategy helps us to inherently understand our customers and give them not only what they think they want, but what they truly need to be successful in their goals.

We also have an extensive 13-year history of success and past performance, which not many small businesses claim. We have supported a variety of customers, have developed deep expertise in certain key software and technologies that we support, and have built solid partnerships that have helped us expand our capabilities.

And finally, our diverse team really takes it to the next level. Diversity is a core value for PVM, and our range of backgrounds helps us look at the challenges we are trying to solve from many different angles, understand our target audiences, and empathize with our clients’ situations.

Hands down, building PVM is the most challenging thing I have ever done. Starting your own business and building it from there is never easy, and I still learn something new every day even a decade later. Specifically, there are a few areas that stand out to me.

I’ve intentionally built a diverse company that reflects my professional journey—a journey where I worked globally with the best and the brightest from all walks of life. Most other tech companies don’t “look” like PVM does. When I meet with my peers across the industry, they don’t share my background or look like me—I have had several instances where a peer “assumed” that I wasn’t the CEO and founder.

Like many other minority-owned companies, I also struggled to secure startup capital. While this was a difficult obstacle to overcome, looking back, the scarcity of fiscal resources has shaped PVM today into who we are today—a scrappy and efficient team. Going through this has made us more resilient and has improved the company for the better.

And finally, learning how to work with the federal government has also posed many challenges as we try to continue making mission impact. Government processes tend to lag behind the pace of technology, which can be a challenge. We also have had to figure out since the start how to support critical missions in classified environments, which adds a layer of complexity to all our business functions. 

At PVM, we’ve overcome these challenges through trial and error, building relationships, and most importantly, leaning on the resources we’ve had available to us to help guide us through to success.

My philosophy is, “We are better together,” and with PVM, that has meant asking for help and leveraging resources wherever and whenever I can. Especially when first starting, I leveraged so many free resources, like the Florida PTAC (now APEX accelerator) to learn about how to grow PVM. These community resources are indispensable to anyone looking to start a business. It’s also important to look for opportunities to connect with your peers and meet other business owners—just like the GrowFL program! That’s a strategy I still leverage to this day to learn best practices from others who have already been through whatever challenge I’m facing at the moment. Our Hub membership is key for that as well.

We’ve also leveraged government training programs, which are crucial as a government contractor. We’re currently a part of the 8(a) business development program, which provides us with training, resources, and more to continue to scale. This program has also provided us the opportunity to develop a formal mentor-protégé relationship with a successful business to help us model our processes and growth strategy. You can read more about that here.

And finally, not being afraid to put in the work. You can find just about anything on YouTube that you need to learn about, and throughout my career, I haven’t shied away from looking something up and doing the research. I’ve also had great success learning from HubSpot and other training modules to make sure I had a foundation in some of the areas of the business that haven’t always been inherent to me. Don’t be afraid to leverage whatever you can find to help you learn.

I think PVM has a very bright future ahead of us! In the next five years, for me it’s about making a bigger impact in the communities we serve. Whether that’s here in St. Pete, across the State of Florida, or across the nation and world, I hope we can partner with more teams to help them meet their missions with data and technology.

Certainly, there have been so many moments of pride on our journey so far, but if I had to choose one, it would be seeing how PVM has grown from a one-person operation to the thriving, diversely talented team we have today. It’s a testament to the power of hard work, perseverance, and a shared passion for making a difference. I often look around at our team meetings and I am filled with awe and respect for the amazing individuals whom I am privileged to work with every day. It is a profound reminder that no one makes it alone, and the success of PVM is intimately tied to each team member’s contributions. Every milestone we have reached, every challenge we have overcome, we’ve done it together, as a team. That, to me, is the truest measure of our success and my proudest moment as CEO.

What does it mean to be selected as a GrowFL FLCTW Honoree?

We are ecstatic to be named a GrowFL Honoree and humbled to be recognized for the impact PVM has made locally in St. Petersburg and across the state and nation. I am particularly excited for PVM to join the community of Honorees, and I am thankful to the organization for providing the opportunity to learn and grow from other successful local businesses.

We are so proud to be a 2023 GrowFL Honoree and to be part of the GrowFL community. For PVM to be honored like this in my home state is a dream come true, and all of us are just ecstatic. Thank you for the opportunity, and we can’t wait to see what PVM does next!

Is there anyone you’d like to thank for getting you to where you are now?

My journey as CEO of PVM IT has been shaped significantly by two remarkable individuals – my grandparents. They were black in the rural south, poorly educated, and earned modest incomes, yet they possessed a wealth of wisdom that no formal education could ever provide and limitless and unconditional love. Their teachings of resilience, perseverance, hard work, and humility have been my guiding principles throughout my life.

My grandparents taught me resilience through their own lives. Despite the many obstacles they faced due to their race and socioeconomic status, they never let adversity deter them. This resilience instilled in me a resolve made of steel, enabling me to navigate through the challenges I faced in founding PVM IT.

Perseverance was another virtue I learned from my grandparents. They worked tirelessly, day in and day out, to provide for our family. Their relentless spirit taught me the value of perseverance, which has been instrumental in the growth and success of our company.

Humility, for me, has always been synonymous with hard work. My grandparents were the epitome of humility, always taking pride in their work, no matter how small or big the task. This humility has kept me grounded throughout my journey as a CEO, reminding me that every task, every project, and every opportunity to learn is valuable.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, they instilled in me the value of hard work. They taught me that there are no shortcuts to success, and that hard work, coupled with determination and persistence, is the only recipe for achieving one’s goals. This work ethic has been the cornerstone of PVM IT’s success, propelling us forward and enabling us to deliver exceptional value to our clients.

My grandparents’ influence has been pivotal in shaping who I am today. Their teachings provided me with the tools I needed to build a successful business, and their legacy continues to inspire and guide me in my role as the CEO of PVM IT.

What is your advice for aspiring or fellow business owners?

My advice aligns with the philosophy I mentioned above – “we are better together!” It is easy to feel isolated when starting your own company, and I certainly did in our first few years. I would advise anyone on the path to starting or growing their own business to remember that you are not alone. This is one of the most challenging professional undertakings in an entrepreneur’s life. I encourage everyone to take advantage of all the (most of the time free!) resources available to them at every level of the journey.

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February 15, 2024 | Hard Rock Live - Orlando, FL
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