OK buckle up people, let's get down to business.
Welcome! I’m Dave Thomson, designated “Mayor” of the TenderHood. Before we get started, I’d like to set the tone. Get your headphones on and start listening to the cheesy classic tune I’ve attached to this post. It only lasts for 3 minutes and this will be a quick fun read, so let’s get pumped up! If you’re part of a small business like I am, you have no time to waste, right?! Let’s go…
(There will be a cheesy classic dance tune with every blog, so if you don’t have Spotify head on over and put that right)
Tinder for Tenders?
Right. The “Tinder” part of my story I’ll get to in a minute, but for now let me chat about our dedicated Supplier Social Network and the Machine Learning aspect of our awesome new Tender Matching Service. (If you put those two things together, maybe you’re already sensing how “Tinder” might play into this?). Let’s not waste another second, let me introduce you to the foundations that make up The TenderHood.
The Playing Field
Public procurement is shrouded in bureaucracy, favouritism, and a general lack of trust. Not to mention a bunch of rigid rules and onerous terms. Believe me, I know. I was the Head of Development for 14 years at Proactis (formerly Millstream), a leading e-commerce procurement company. In the public procurement world, if you are a business with less than 10 employees (like the other 96% of small businesses in The U.K ) then you can expect to have no chance of winning a public sector tender in your first 3 years of operation. Even those small and medium enterprises (SMEs) who do win only get 19% of the public procurement spend. The rest goes to large companies. Over and over and over again.
Company Employee #s In The U.K.
- 0 Employees
- 1-9 (micro)
- 10-24 (small)
- 50-249 (med)
- 249+ (large)
- 0 Employees
- 1-9 (micro)
- 10-24 (small)
- 50-249 (med)
- 249+ (large)
96% of all businesses in The U.K. have less than 10 employees.
Why build a dedicated Supplier Social Network in U.K. Public Procurement?
We believe that subcontracts, partnerships, and a smarter way of identifying LOTS are one way to help SMEs win in the public sector. But to get those opportunities, you need connections. Wouldn’t it be cool if you had access to a dedicated social network where you could post into the Community to ask if anyone was interested in partnering? Oh wait, now you can!
We founded The TenderHood to find ways to support SMEs by providing more innovative tools that can be used to win more public sector contracts. We believe the ideal starting point is by offering a social network dedicated to public procurement. Access to forums, connections, and groups that provide efficient and cost-effective ways to communicate and cooperate. In The TenderHood, we call this social network “The Pub”. Because, let’s face it, in the U.K there’s no better place to meet. Oh, and of course Buyers are welcome too, if they are brave enough to come and answer our questions. Most importantly, entering The Pub is FREE. To everyone. Because we don’t think there should be any barriers to finding ways to work together.
OK so what about these machines?
Let me introduce you to “AndyBot”. Don’t think of him as one of those annoying pop ups that irritates you while you’re trying to find something. Think of him more like a football manager who’s assessing your abilities to get you into the right position on the playing field.
Our “Playing Field” is where you manage and train your tender profiles. We all know the great teams put in the hard work on the training ground, only our training is easy (just like Tinder. I’m getting to that…).
Unlike other tender alert services, we think less is more. We care about matching you with new business opportunities you can actually win as opposed to sending you a long list of tenders that don’t truly meet your business strategy. We use bleeding edge “machine learning” algorithms to accurately match your business needs with the most ideal tender listings (what the…?).
OK, in simple terms, we don’t believe in the “never miss an opportunity” motto. Because that makes no sense. There are lots of opportunities out there. What you really want is the right opportunity. We already know as a small or medium-sized business, you have limited capacity. So who cares if you miss a tender, as long as you have realistic opportunities you are bidding on right now. It’s not remotely helpful having 10 tenders sitting in your inbox when you only have the capacity to bid on one. Time is money. Let’s not waste a second sorting through a long list of tenders to find the right one to bid on. Let AndyBot do that for you.
Why machine learning and not human tender reviews? Well that one is easy. It’s faster, more accurate, oh and it eh, learns! A human can only categorize tenders based on what they see. And how long do you think it takes a human to read through hundreds of categories and subcategories? Machine Learning Algorithms don’t look at categories, they look at context within a tender’s content. And they factor in not only your bidding history, but the history of other suppliers just like you – not only what they “liked”, but which tenders they actually won! Oh, and there are no categories. Yeah, no more trying to learn CPV codes or complex category systems, it simply comes down to which way you swipe (oops I mean like – sorry Tinder). And then off AndyBot goes to narrow your tender search to those similar to the ones you like.
We don’t believe in putting up barriers for SMEs to win tenders. It shouldn’t cost extra to add resources to the tools you use. That is why we allow our members to add unlimited users and tender profiles (AndyBot calls these Scouting Reports) to their team(s). Yes, I did just say that! Unlimited. You can create a tender scouting report for Food and one for IT (probably not) and assign that scouting profile to anyone in your team.
OK, whats all this Tinder Talk???
We all know what Tinder is right? It’s a perfectly respectable online community where people are just looking for friends (cough). Well, as Mo our Director of Strategy, was doing our product research on the idea of “matching”, we figured there must be a reason why “swipe right” was so well-recognised. I volunteered to find out why.
I signed up for a Tinder account, but didn’t think of using an alias (duh). So, up went the picture of Dave Thomson and all my personal details. Literally 2 mins later my wife got the call from her best friend: “Why is Dave on Tinder???”.
Once the dust settled, I explained to my wife what I had learned. The user interface (UI) on Tinder is exceptionally easy to use. And “liking” or “unliking” a potential ‘friend’ is unbelievably easy. This was a real inspiration for The TenderHood UI. We wanted to create an experience that was super simple and quick for our users to match the best tender opportunities. Why? Because SMEs have limited resources and less is more! Yes you are starting to get the message here people! Getting a short list of the best tender matches allows a more efficient use of resources. We offer a simple traffic light system where you either green or red light a tender. The next time AndyBot goes out on a tender search for you, he’ll only send you those that match your “green lighted” criteria. Every time you refine your matches, the smarter AndyBot gets at identifying the tenders you’re most likely to win.
Coming off the slip road
I encourage you to try it. Access to the Playing Field is free for the first month. That gives you plenty of time to direct AndyBot to the right opportunity for you. Until next time folks, I hope to see you in The TenderHood very soon. You won’t regret it. And pop into the Pub to let us hear from you! In the interim, check out some goodies below.
What’s missing from your toolbox? What do you see as your barriers to winning tenders? Got any tips for us as we develop The TenderHood? Let us know in the Responses below, or jump on over to our forums.