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RCL Accelerator — the rocket fuel we needed to launch

· Startup,Program,Accelerator,Brisbane,BNE3

Jumping off the cliff

There were many around me who wondered what on earth possessed me to step out of a successful 15-year business and risk everything for an unknown destination.

I had built a bid management and strategic communication consulting firm with a 90% success rate in securing multi-million dollar contracts for clients across professional services, health and aged care facilities, education and employment services, mining operations, and infrastructure delivery. Every day I was working alongside business development and sales teams to help them grow the value and volume of their businesses, but few companies really knew the true cost of sales and productivity when it came tobidding and tendering for major contracts.

I couldn’t let go of the idea that there needed to be a better way to secure contracts than the current document-heavy, manual process. My start-up, Bidhive, would be a scalable platform with a proven, repeatable framework to help others optimise their chances of winning a contract through the request for proposal or tender process.

The numbers were compelling. My research found that companies spend, on average, 22 percent of their operating cost on the chance to win just 1 in 5 contracts. They use emails and manual spreadsheets to manage the process, essentially gambling while reinventing the wheel each time.

Imperfect is perfect

Fear and impatience gripped me. I had deep domain experience and business contacts, a passion for disrupting the industry and a desire to ‘unlearn what I had learned’. This was, apparently, the perfect recipe for acceptance into a start-up accelerator program. Having the support and understanding of family and loved ones is also important, for the experience is not a solo effort, nor is it for the lazy, complacent or feint hearted. Being “all in” is a prerequisite.

Building the team

Joining me on the journey was my co-founder and long-time design colleague Aaron Godde. For more than two decades we’d worked in the corporate world, individually and together. We made it through the boot camp selection finals and into the BNE#3 RCL accelerator which can best be described as a process of intense, rapid and immersive education aimed at rocket launching the lifecycle of our young company. We’ve compressed a year’s worth of ‘learning by doing’ into just six months.

A week in the life of Bidhive includes accepting and correcting failures fast, deep dives, one on ones, group mentoring, qualifying new customers and having each other’s backs when we need to make tough decisions. It often involves taking our problems home and needing a shoulder or listening ear. We’ve learned to pitch, met investors, been given the space to work on our business and a place to share different perspectives. We’ve also learned that ‘no’ can sometimes be better than ‘yes’ and can make all the difference between a right or wrong direction.

Getting out of the building

We have been fortunate to make international contacts and the opportunity to visit the start-up scene in San Francisco, and with the help of the Queensland Government, to conduct co-design workshops and interviews in other Australian cities, as well as the UK and Singapore to gain feedback on the Bidhive platform and roadmap.

The RCL accelerator experience has given us the discipline, structure and routine to keep the momentum going and by working alongside others in the same program we have forged deep connections with other founders, team members and others in the broader Muru-D network who experience the same highs and lows. We’ve also brought our families and friends along for the ride. They see our vulnerabilities, but also our optimism, determination and resilience.

Test, refine, repeat

With each key milestone we learn rapidly, such as when to pivot, how to gain customer traction, and timing around raising capital. Once we had our roadmap validated with end users in key markets, we found new energy and fresh ideas, and we made the decision to tighten our scope, be selective with feature releases, and focus on getting customers to love our product.

The RCL accelerator has definitely opened doors for us. With Demo Day and our first paying customers on the horizon, we’re excited to forge ahead. We’re staying focused, moving fast, expanding our engineering team and capabilities, and are ready to take the Bidhive platform global from day one.

About Bidhive

Bidhive is a Software as a Service (Saas) capture and bid management platform that bridges the gap between sales and procurement to improve bid management processes, performance and outcomes. The end-to-end solution has been designed to align with best practice standards and frameworks adopted and endorsed by the Association of Proposal Management Professionals and the UK National Occupational Standards for Bidding & Tendering.

Originally published at medium.com on March 26, 2018.

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