Dave Hulsen and Stuart Ludlow identified a significant problem early — the RFP process was arduous for both buyers and sellers.
With prior experience working on both sides of the proposal process, they began to build RFP360, a solution addressing pain points related to knowledge management, collaboration, communication, quality control, vendor selection and more.
As they worked to validate their concept, the founders applied and pitched to the Sandbox with the goal of building out their foundational infrastructure.
"When RFP360 (then RFP365) first pitched in 2013, they hadn't worked out their business model. For any startup entrepreneur, getting that honest feedback and insights from experienced investors who have seen how products play out in the market provides much-needed clarity and direction," said Jill Meyer, senior director of the Technology Venture Studio at the UMKC Innovation Center.
The Sandbox funding boost in 2013, coupled with critical support from the Kansas City Startup Village, set them on a path to become one of Kansas City's biggest success stories.
"Digital Sandbox was really helpful. They provided some funds for us to do some early infrastructure work that is a key pillar nine years later,” said Dave Hulsen, co-founder of RFP360. “My pitch at first wasn't great. In fact, we were turned down two times. The feedback we got each time was helpful and we continued to refine our approach."
RFP360 became a category leader for proposal management software and expectedly gained the attention of Oregon-based competitor RFPIO.
The company announced the purchase of RFP360 on August 3rd, sharing that the two companies will join and continue developing solutions that serve the entire RFP lifecycle.
“By acquiring RFP360, RFPIO is continuing to invest in the advancement of response management by expanding its breadth of solutions and the audiences it serves,” RFPIO said, adding that the acquisition will strengthen its position as the leading provider of response management software to companies of all sizes and scopes.
RFP360’s employees will remain in the Kansas City area, operating out of their Leawood location, which opened in 2019.
Digital Sandbox KC is proud to have played an instrumental role in helping RFP360 access critical early-stage funding, gain traction and earn the attention of investors further down the line.
If you are an early-stage entrepreneur with an idea in need of a funding boost, you can learn more about the Sandbox process and apply for funding here.