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Arlington-Based, Native Hawaiian-Owned Tech Firm Capitalizes on Agility

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Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

The Haleakala Silversword is a rare plant that grows in the hot, dry climate of a remote crater in Hawaii. The silver-fronded shrub can live up to about 90 years before sprouting an impressive flowering stalk as its final hurrah before spreading seeds across the barren landscape where the plant is found.

4S logoSilversword Software and Services — an Arlington-based technology startup also known as 4S — says they chose the name because it fit with their unique position in the market. “It seemed really apt for me for the kind of work we are doing: to kind of grow something beautiful in a very bizarre environment,” 4S President Eli Senter said.

When Senter first began working in the federal IT space, he said he was “a little bit shocked at how far behind the private sector we were in some areas.” 4S aims to fill that gap by developing software tools and technical management practices for federal clients. The company offers services ranging from building system architecture, systems engineering and developing custom software to creating Web-based applications and transitioning programs to cloud computing.

So far, the firm has been focused on the secondary use of health data. 4S is developing an infrastructure for military doctors find insight into their patients’ electronic health records. “There is a treasure trove of information [in EHRs] that could be very valuable in research if looked at anonymously in bulk,” said Dan Bowman, communications associate at Eastern Foundry, a Crystal City-based startup incubator of which 4S is a member. Senter added, “To actually be able to get any big data value, you have to structure it very differently in order to be able to find patients that are similar and compare outcomes for similar patients.”

The company recently was certified as a participant in the 8(a) Business Development Program as a Native Hawaiian Organization-owned firm. That means that in some cases, 4S can “behave a lot more like you would in the private sector” when acquiring contracts for government projects, Senter said. NHO-owned firms participating in the 8(a) program can market directly to potential clients, and those clients then can contract with 4S in a much shorter time frame than the traditional process for government contract awards, according to Senter. In addition, 4S can work collaboratively with clients to design the requirements, price and other aspects of the contracts they work under.

With its new status, Senter said 4S plans to bring modern development techniques and tools to the federal sector. And Arlington was the perfect base for the firm’s mission. “We’re close to all of our defense clients … that we’ve worked with before and would like to work with again,” Senter said.

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