One of the more interesting processes I was exposed to during my career as a government contractor was that of 'business development." I participated in more pursuits than I care to remember and they always had this sort of Highland games feel. There were people performing great feats of professional strength, such as working all night to develop an acronym list or missing a holiday to correct the grammar of a so-called luminary. Communication seemed to occur over the digital equivalent of a bullhorn and pipe bands of reviewers marched hither and yon, belting out familiar guidance written ages ago. For all intents and purposes, the people were "modern", but man-o-man was the game itself pretty 11th century.
The most baffling component of this Scottish soup sandwich was the process by which one became aware an opportunity even existed. I won't go into the gory details, but if you are in the business of government contracting you are probably familiar with FBO. This website is the official listing of all government opportunities. Seemingly, if one is interested in pursuing government work, this is the place to be....right? Well...if you are a fan of the caber toss as a means by which to clear a forest, they yes. FBO will get you there. Unfortunately, sifting through the mountains of data to find something you are really interested can be challenging at best. Surely, someone has built something to help with this issue...Well lo and behold, Hamish! Turns out there are actually a few companies who take the (free) data from the FBO website and turn it into another website that you can pay an arm, leg, and your bagpipe to use. Well, that sounds just brilliant. Let's do that. And in addition to that, let's create an awkward set of circumstances that may prevent us from actually winning anything. And finally, like any good consultant, let's put those unfortunate circumstances we created for ourselves in a vaguely-titled, yet cleverly-acronymified bulleted list. Here we go:
Disruptions to Efficiency that Lead Toward Enhanced Kludging (DELTEKs)
- Most people who can make the call to pursue work or even come close to writing a proposal, can not be bothered with browsing a website, setting up searches, and subscribing to things. They prefer to spend their time staring at their phones.
- A person (or group of people) should be hired to "watch" the various websites, both paid and free, for "relevant" opportunities and email the aforementioned pursuers.
- Typical "watchers" should not have the requisite technical skills or business seniority to make the call on whether something is actually relevant or even pursuable. They shall observe and report, usually based on keyword searches.
- Getting on the list to which the "watchers" will send must be difficult. If new to the company, one must go through at least 2 years of feeling inferior for not being on the list.
- If the "watcher" goes on vacation, goes to lunch, sneezes, or otherwise exists beyond his laptop, critical information about new or changed opportunities is delayed.
- Full time watchers can be expensive. So can these websites. Smaller companies shall be left with either less information or less money.
So round and round the often days-out-of-date information goes. It's usually late because it goes to the wrong people. It's usually wrong because it is late or from the wrong people. Hilarity ensues and next thing you know, you are working on Sunday at 4AM. WELL ISN'T THAT SPECIAL. When I left this funhouse to start GovTribe, Marc, Jay, and I wanted to build things that would have helped our former selves. We know we were underserved by technology in our previous lives. We want to do something about paid websites that repackage free websites being the definition of "best in class." The goal of our first product hōrd, is to make US Government procurement information useful to everyone. As we started building hōrd, several key themes emerged that are evident in the product today. In no particular order, they are as follows:
- Build for People - Priced at 4 bucks, any single person can purchase it and have access to 10 years of useful US Government procurement data. Forever.
- Mobile Only - You don't need another website. hōrd is the only native iOS application that provides the information you need, regardless of the location of your laptop.
- No Email - You don't need more email. hōrd provides notifications directly to your phone when something important happens.
- Needlefinding - There is a ton of data out there. We work hard to make sure you can easily get what you care about. From a constantly-learning search engine to trends amongst the community, we want you to get what you need, fast.
- BD is More than Just RFPs - We extract key information like People, Organizations, and Topics in addition to the opportunities themselves. You are probably interested in something within each of these buckets. Just like the real world, where you know, most of us have to work.
We released the first version of hōrd today with USAID data and our base set of functionality. My former self is pretty pleased with the app and looking forward to the coming iterations. We have a boatload of goodness rolling out in the coming months, including more Agencies and some interesting features that will hopefully improve the quality of life of your current self. Until then stay tuned, keep your kilt on, and let us know what you think.
(Yes, we understand that RFTOPs and other limited competition opportunities do not have to be posted on FBO.)