An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with Ganesh Shankar, Sankar Lagudu, and AJ Sunder, the founders of RFPIO, which was honored in our:
- 2020 Best Tech Startups in Oregon
- 2019 Best Tech Startups in Oregon
- 2019 Best Tech Startups in Beaverton
Tell us the origin story of RFPIO – what problem were you trying to solve and why?
In our previous positions, we often gave up our own nights and weekends to respond to technical RFP questions, even though RFP response was not part of our primary roles. While we were responding to question after repetitive question, we thought: There has to be a better way to respond to RFPs than this.
What started as a fleeting thought grew into so much more when we realized that the problem was not only solvable, but that the only thing missing was the right technology. We were determined to create that missing piece.
In 2015, the three of us pushed RFPIO off the ground, funding the software development with our personal savings.
We founded RFPIO because we believe in streamlining processes, eliminating repetitive work, and, most importantly, giving responders confidence and purpose by adding tangible value to their jobs.
What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?
The biggest obstacle we faced in the industry was building a strong sales and marketing team, as none of us had experience in either area. Even a best-in-class solution can fail if the market isn’t educated and ready to receive it.
Despite our lack of experience, the company’s marketing efforts drove such demand that the sales pipeline was 100% created from inbound leads. The early sales talent also excelled, with early close rates nearing 90%. Many of the early team members are still part of the RFPIO family and, together with the newest team members, continue to break sales records each quarter.
The company closed 2019 with around 70,000 users and over 125 employees worldwide. With revenues increasing 250% and a 14-month streak of quarter-over-quarter growth, the future looks bright for customers and employees alike.
What does the future hold for RFPIO?
Our strategic vision is to position RFPIO as the market’s leading response management platform. Instead of just a point solution, we want to position ourselves as the most robust, integrated platform for responding to any type of proposal or requirement request from a prospective customer. We will continue to innovate and invest in cutting-edge technology to remain the best option on the market for response management.
What are your thoughts on the local tech startup scene in Beaverton?
Although Beaverton doesn’t have the hype of Portland, there are a million reasons why it’s the perfect place to launch a tech startup, something that more and more companies are realizing. First, commercial real estate rental prices are much more aligned with a typical startup’s budget. Also, Beaverton doesn’t have the same kind of traffic or parking issues as Portland and other major metropolises. Overall, we’re excited to be part of the up-and-coming tech scene here in Beaverton and looking forward to supporting other Beaverton-based tech companies.
What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
The best advice I can give entrepreneurs is to network, network, network. You can never know too many people. Second, when you’re building your team, make sure you focus on hiring people who are a good fit for your team culture. Finally, don’t get carried away with fundraising. Instead, focus on customer acquisition and making sure your product is a good fit for the market.