Advancing National Security through Classified Workspaces with Sean Blackman, USNA ‘07

Apr 8, 2022 | 10X Vets, USNA

“Not having a paycheck for the first time in my life and taking a jump into the unknown was scary as hell, but honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever felt more fulfilled in my career since making that decision. I was thinking, this feels great…I’m having a blast. For the first time in my life, it opened my eyes to the fact there’s a different way of living, there’s a different way of doing things. It’s been really exciting to figure this out, to figure out a new way of living and doing.” 

– Sean Blackman

Sean Blackman (USNA ‘07) is a former F/A-18 Hornet pilot and the Co-Founder and CEO of Nooks, which provides classified-spaces-as-a-service (CSaaS) to both commercial and government customers. Sean and his team believe that in order to win the great power competition of the next century, every effort must be made to accelerate technology transfer between industry and government. By lowering the barrier of entry for qualified companies to access secure facilities, Nooks plans to dramatically change the landscape of who can be competitive for classified contracts with the US government, thus speeding the pace of innovation and technology transfer.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • The origin story of Nooks
  • How Nooks is filling a gap in the classified marketplace
  • Why Nooks’ target market falls outside traditional associations with the DoD
  • How Sean’s transition into tech accelerated his entrepreneurial journey
  • Why “who?” not “how?” is the most important question to ask

Sean also shares how Nooks is growing, including his goal to have two fully operational sites by the end of 2022 and the company’s big-picture vision to make a significant impact on accelerating and improving national security within ten years. We enjoyed learning about the process Sean and his team go through to get sites up and running and why commercial real estate and government speed are two roadblocks they are overcoming. We also discuss some of the most valuable lessons Sean learned this year and why his partners and military veteran network are key to his success. The story behind Sean’s entrepreneurial journey is powerful and we hope this episode inspires you to overcome any beliefs or fears that may be limiting your success.

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Special thanks to Sean for joining me this week. Until next time!

-Scott Mackes, USNA ’01

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