Back in 2015, Ganesh Shankar found himself spending 20-30% of his time responding to RFPs, even though it was not part of his main job description. However, when looking for a tool to streamline the RFP response process, he could not find a single solution on the market that matched his needs.
The other founders of RFPIO, Manish Bafna, AJ Sunder, and Sankar Lagudu, experienced similar frustrations when dealing with RFPs. And they came to the realisation that there must be hundreds of others who are trapped in an inefficient RFP process. Out of this idea emerged RFPIO, founded in 2015 with headquarters in Portland, Oregon in the USA and an R&D Centre in Coimbatore.
RFPIO’s primary mission is to automate the RFP/tender response process and give sales teams full control over the process.
“RFPIO’s cloud-based software is a response management platform that helps companies streamline their business proposal efforts, provide high-quality responses and create additional revenue opportunities,” emphasised Shankar.
RFPIO Solutions To Streamline Sales, Operations
One of the key advantages of RFPIO is the fact that it can be used across the entire sales and operations process. RFPIO manages onboarding, marketing, operational or sales questionnaires and response proposals.
Onboarding: In addition to accelerating proposal management, RFPIO also simplifies the onboarding process. With RFPIO, the human resources department can access the most current company information and revise HR-related content accordingly.
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Proactive Proposals: RFPIO allows sales teams to easily assemble proactive proposals, which are often benched in favor of higher priority tasks, helping them win more deals and generate new businesses.
Marketing Content: Internally, RFPIO stores key information for the marketing department, including basic company/contact information, product/service value propositions, and competitive advantages, putting relevant information at the marketing team’s fingertips.
SOWs/Grants: Using RFPIO to complete statements of work or grants helps businesses spend less time on documents and spreadsheets. Rather than manually copying and pasting answers from one SOW/Grant to another, RFPIO lets users store all previous answers in a single content library for quick and easy access.
Security Questionnaires: On average, a security questionnaire may contain hundreds of questions, sometimes, thousands. RFPIO uses auto-response and bulk answering to help businesses cut completion time dramatically, since the solution does a majority of the responding upfront.
Compared to other RFP management systems, RFPIO offers several acute advantages:
- Import RFPs from any source: A patented import process imports all formats of RFPs (text documents, PDFs, spreadsheets). Users only need to teach the machine the difference between section types (i.e. headings, questions, descriptor text, etc.) and the software will analyse the rest of the document and sort all section types into categories.
- Export RFPs, while staying on brand: After all questions have been answered, users can either export the RFP into the original document, or export questions into a customised, branded template. This gives companies an extra edge in the face of competition.
- Work with large teams on multiple projects: All RFP-related communication can happen without leaving RFPIO. Outside contributors and freelancers can be added into projects to edit certain questions, while RFPIO also integrates with Slack and Gmail for quick and easy management of tasks and discussions. Teams can simultaneously manage multiple RFPs, making it easier for proposal managers.
- Find the right answers, fast: RFPIO’s content library is equipped with an AI-enabled recommendation engine that sifts through users’ vast content libraries to pull up the most relevant answers for the question the user is answering.
Furthermore, the company offers 18 integrations, with even more integrations in the pipeline.
RFPIO’s solutions are priced based on the number of current projects, rather than the number of users. This means that companies pay for the number of projects they want to be working on simultaneously, and can add in as many users as they’d like, including freelancers and contractors — without upgrading to a higher tier. This makes RFPIO well suited for businesses of all sizes.
RFPIO’s tiered model is 100% subscription-based and the pricing is based on the volume of projects that customers process through the platform. “The most popular offering really depends on a customer’s needs. While a Fortune 500 company may be managing several projects at the same time across teams of 50+, a modest tech startup might only be working on 3 RFPs at a time, with a team of 5. Different needs require different solutions,” Cofounder Sunder added.
Leveraging Automation To Streamline RFPs
With automated responses and proactive proposal creation being two highlights of RFPIO, it relies a lot on artificial intelligence and machine learning. For instance, being able to recognise questions that have been previously answered and reuse the content is a huge time saver. “Our system uses AI to help make recommendations on an appropriate response. And the system gets better and better at recognising questions over time and helps fill in RFPs with increasing accuracy,” Bafna told Inc42.
One of RFPIO’s customers reported RFPs that used to take her four days to complete, now just take her one hour with the help RFPIO’s solution. “On average, we find that our customers report spending at least 30% less time completing RFPs after implementing RFPIO,” added Lagudu.
RFPIO’s API allows users to bring data into their homegrown CRM or other tools that RFPIO doesn’t integrate with. This means partners are able to enhance the value of their own product by bringing RFPIO functionality into their first-party offerings. This has helped attract major clients such as Microsoft, Siemens, and Adobe.
The Future For RFPIO
“We imagine our response management system as a way to help people involved in the sales process have all the content they need at their fingertips any time a query comes in from a prospect,” Sankar Lagudu, cofounder, RFPIO.
The demand from clients in India has been a success factor for RFPIO as its Coimbatore-based R&D centre helps the company gain excellent insight into this market. Its most notable customers include Indian companies such as Freshworks, Automation Anywhere, and BrowserStack. “Having our research team back in India allows us to talk to local companies pretty frequently, which is partly why we’ve been able to successfully provide a solution that attracts and benefits Indian companies,” said Shankar.
The founders are working towards growing RFPIO into a comprehensive platform to respond to all queries throughout the entire sales process. For the cofounders, this represents a huge opportunity.