A new product module from RFP365 defies common perceptions about Kansas City corporations overlooking tech talent in the startup community, said co-founder Stuart Ludlow, announcing the launch of Client Discovery.
“Traditionally, we always say that an RFP [request for proposal] involves two people,” he said, describing the product. “Someone writes an RFP and then a vendor or multiple vendors respond to it. Two parties. Client Discovery introduces a third type of person into our system: a client.”
Developed in collaboration with Lockton Companies, an international insurance brokerage firm headquartered on the Country Club Plaza, the product fulfills a critical need for one of RFP365’s most loyal partners, said Ludlow.
It empowers consultants to streamline clients’ discoveries when they issue RFPs.
Launched in 2012, RFP365 simplifies the complicated, often tedious request-for-proposal process between entities. Traditionally, that has meant consultants or procurement departments sending RFPs to vendors, but still having to obtain clients’ needs for the proposals through indirect, manual data gathering.
“With Client Discovery, our team can more effectively collaborate with our clients, helping us quickly and easily shortlist vendors,” said Brad Mandacina, Lockton’s vice president and director.
The firm is one of RFP365’s biggest anchor clients and heaviest users of the startup’s system, Ludlow said.
“Our relationship with Lockton started when we were tiny — we had four employees. Lockton is doing $1.5 billion to $2 billion annually, and they took a chance on a startup,” he said. “You don’t hear many stories about Sprint, Garmin and Cerner working with a three- or four-person company because a lot of times ‘startup’ means risk. But this group within in Lockton knew that it meant having execution, speed and agility to create a tool that could really help their team out.”
Lockton was a driver behind RFP365’s previous module launch, which simplified about 600 boilerplate questions into an easier to access and maintain profile, Ludlow said.
“Lockton has been a very good partner for us,” he said. “They came to us and said, ‘What you’ve done is great. We use it a lot. It helps us to communicate upstream with our clients, but we would really like to be able to integrate everything together.”
Client Discovery has been about two years in the making — from conception to its launch July 1, Ludlow said.
RFP365 also boasts such clients as Charles Schwab, the City of Kansas City, Missouri, National Geographic Cengage and AMC Theaters. Such success with high-profile entities has proven transformative for the startup, which was selected as one of Startland’s Top Kansas City Startups to Watch in 2018.
“It has changed the company in ways we never saw in the beginning,” Ludlow said. “[Co-founder Dave Hulsen] and I initially thought this would be a self-service, throw-in-your-credit card, low-touch point sales process, high-volume, low dollar sort of product — now we’ve kind of flipped that on its head. Technically, we’ve had to throw a ton of features on top of the product that enterprise companies require, as well as lot of security layers that we may not have thought of.”
Early on, the founders didn’t envision their operations involving training, customer support, on boarding or account management, he said.
“But enterprise customers want to have someone they can call with an issue. They want turnaround times within an hour,” Ludlow said. “The expectations from them are vastly different, but it’s made us a tighter organization. It changes the price point we can charge for the product. The end result is a team that is more loyal and customers we can hold onto for a lot longer.”