This is how Isaac Barnes, a college dropout, won $13.4 billion in government contracts

BY Preta Peace Namasaba March 27, 2024 2:39 PM EDT
Isaac Barnes. Photo credit: Isaac Barnes

Isaac Barnes’ journey to success has been far from straight. He had to experience personal tragedy, face his fears, and fail at business before coming into his own. In 2022, Barnes made history by winning a $13.4 billion defense contract with the Pentagon, White House, and Department of State.  He is the head of an immensely thriving digital product and innovation company.

A native of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Barnes grew up disadvantaged yet determined to success. His father unfortunately died before his Barnes’ 18th birthday and Barnes spent three months grieving and contemplating his future. While sitting in his mother’s basement, he noticed a book, “The Magic of Thinking Big” on his dad’s bookshelf filled with many sticky notes. He decided to join the military after reading this book.

His enrollment into the Marine Corps Bootcamp coincided with the 9/11 attacks. The airlines canceled his flight due to the traumatic terrorist attacks and Barnes sat at the processing station, watching in horror as the twin towers collapsed. He overcame his fears, dropped out of college and joined the military after a month of being consumed by uncertainty.  Barnes learned software engineering and became one of the top students in his class once in the Marines. He ended up at Quantico, working with the nation’s most intelligent and innovative marines.

With his expertise in software development and data analysis, Barnes developed tools to help the marines globally. He consequently secured a job at the Pentagon working for the Secretary of Defense, designing tools to help modernize the military. It is here that Barnes became interested in government contracting. In the meantime, he helped another veteran grow his defense contracting company from $3 million to $17 million in revenue. He devoted his time and energy to learning more about business, consuming hundreds of books, and courses and attending events in the process.

In 2011, Barnes created, a website devoted to teaching the art of government contracting. He interviewed industry experts and shared their best practices. He also spent nearly 12 years partnering with leaders in the Executive Office of the President, the Department of Defense, Corporations, and nonprofits to deliver innovative solutions.

Barnes went on to found Eminent Future, a digital product and innovation company focused on Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) impact. It helps America’s leaders use strategy, design, and technology to innovate faster and create societal change. Eminent Future has won multiple large-scale federal contracts and industry awards for its work shifting culture, shifting society, and changing narratives. Eminent also focuses on community work and helped Amazon raise $40 million to build their HQ2.

“I believe that each of us has the power to create anything we desire, as long as we align with God. My life’s purpose is to use my voice to leave the earth better than it was when I got here,” Barnes said about what drives his life and business spirit.

As president of Eminent Future, Barnes has been fundamental in positioning the company to be one of the fastest-growing firms in the country. He puts the sum of contracts secured with the Pentagon, the White House, and Department of State at $13.4 billion. Barnes also led software development teams for both President Barack Obama and President Donald Trump.

Barnes has the grand ambition of running for president in 2032 and even goes by the moniker “Future President”. He believes his experience as both a military veteran & tech entrepreneur gives him a unique insight into how to solve some of America’s most challenging social and national security issues. He is a vocal advocate for diversity in tech and wants to use his platform and resources to close the Black tech gap.