Excitement, networking, fellowship and learning were on full display and some of the words used to describe NIGP Forum 2022, in Boston, Massachusetts. Throughout the week, another conspicuous topic was the announcement that is sure to resonate throughout the government agency purchasing and vendor/supplier spheres. BidPrime, an Austin-based technology company, made it official and quite public concerning their integration with Beacon, a new and innovative e-procurement solution.
Beacon representatives spent the week sharing how the goal is to expand bidder outreach. This e-procurement solution and service enables agencies to more easily create, post, distribute, and share solicitations with a large potential vendor market. Beacon allows prospective suppliers to benefit from a streamlined user experience without going through exhaustive registration processes that too often negatively impact vendor participation in the public sector.
Inspiration for Beacon
BidPrime acquired Beacon to make a difference for agencies and suppliers and change the status quo in e-procurement. BidPrime has been around for the past thirteen years and in this time has specialized in the contractor side of the industry. During that time, BidPrime has witnessed a lot of transition, consolidation, and red flags on the e-procurement side and a plan was developed, and decisions were made, to contribute to making things better. The result is Beacon.
Stephen Hetzel, COO for BidPrime and Beacon was quoted in a recent press release, “... Most e-procurement solutions are designed to only serve agencies, not suppliers and bidders. Beacon's solution serves both agencies and suppliers. When you add complex requirements, registration holds, and fees just to view the specifications of an opportunity, it makes the cost of doing business with the government too burdensome for many prospective contractors." Accurate statement is accurate.
Why is this acquisition important?
The engineering and design teams took everything that suppliers told them was, and was not, working, communicated with agencies for their invaluable input, had follow up conversations with a variety of planholders about their dislikes, inconveniences, and frustrations with current systems, and then rolled up their sleeves to do additional research and fact finding. At that point, Beacon leveraged the same design approach used to build BidPrime, which has worked out well for us to date.
BidPrime and Beacon teams recognized that every time there is one of those consolidations, there seems to be a backward movement in the creation of products that are useful to both the agencies and the suppliers. Technology, guardrails and gatekeeping are not doing the job of enabling or reaching into the vendor markets - specifically those that agencies want to support and engage. Examples of suppliers that are too often discouraged from participating in the process are local businesses, small businesses, minorities, women-owned, and veteran-owned businesses. Others have shared the same disappointments.
In the past, contractors have always had problems with the cumbersome nature of some government websites and available e-procurement systems, in particular. Time consuming and complicated registrations, download fees, the necessity to download how-to guides, including “learn how to view or respond to bids” are too often daunting and intimidating to potential bidders. Beacon understood it is preferable to make a better system, instead of the need to create and distribute numerous guides.
B.C.E.C. *clap, clap* BCEC equals fun for you and me!
In a lead-up to the above groundbreaking announcement, Beacon, with assistance from BidPrime, was front and center and actively involved in NIGP Forum 2022. The annual NIGP Forum is the largest North American educational conference designed specifically for individuals in public procurement. In Boston, from August 20th-24th, this latest version of the conference, which had the highest attendance ever for the Forum, played host to more than 200 vendors, drawn from a wide variety of industries, and over 1,000 attendees, from across a variety of levels within public purchasing.
At the end of the event, to help drop the curtain on NIGP Forum 2022, BidPrime and Beacon partnered to host a social event that had everyone entertained, relaxed, smiling and looking forward to more in the future.
Here is a recap and behind the scenes look at the week that was in Boston.
As promised, to include a number of social-related events, the Forum brought people together to network, learn from and support one another, and to facilitate the sharing of ideas and services. From the opening, through to the final hugs and handshakes, there was a palpable electricity in the air.
Beacon, with assistance from BidPrime, was proud to serve as a featured sponsor for the Opening Night and Awards Ceremony held on Saturday, August 20th, at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. Our team was honored to witness so many incredible, dedicated, talented professionals being applauded for their impressive accomplishments and impactful contributions.
On Sunday, August 21st and Monday, August 22nd, Beacon was a featured exhibitor at the Forum Expo and used this platform to demonstrate Beacon’s various tools available to agencies. A substantial number of attendees, across a broad spectrum of agencies, learned how to take advantage of Broadcaster to publish and distribute solicitations, Tracker to communicate updates to planholders, and E-Bid which allows bidders to easily submit responses and agencies to collect them for evaluation.
Most certainly, a definite “star of the show” was RFP Archive. This robust tool is a massive, searchable database of RFP specifications used to help agencies to more quickly write better RFPs. Rave reviews.
Make no mistake, BidPrime had a presence as well and did not stand idly by on the sidelines. Our team was able to connect directly with a large number of current customers and meet and have important conversations with new friends.
Royale and Sporting Celebrations
On the evening of August 22nd, Beacon, again with the support of the BidPrime team, proudly served as a featured sponsor at NIGP’s Social Event hailed as “2022 Meets the 1920’s at the Historic Royale!”.
Attendees were transported to downtown Boston, and most certainly back in time, for an evening full of interaction, amazing music, casino and party-like atmosphere, with samples of Boston’s best, local fare. It was all part of a magical evening in the heart of Beantown. Beacon and BidPrime representatives were able to mix and mingle, further solidifying relationships forged within the BCEC Exhibit Hall.
Did we mention relationships and mix and mingle? On the next night, Tuesday, August 23rd, Beacon and BidPrime combined to host another social event, this time at The Sporting Club, Omni Seaport. The full cadre of BidPrime/Beacon team members, led by our co-founders, Stephen Hetzel and Josh Schwartzbeck, hosted agency and vendor friends, for a night of laughs, prizes, photo booth, “hot raffles!” and more delicious Boston fare.
Without a doubt, we can assure you that there is no such thing as too much “Boston fare”.
All told, there were 80 people who joined in the fun and fellowship, with multiple exclamations of, “can’t wait to see what you do in Louisville!”. As a notable sidenote, this party served the additional purpose as a celebration of BidPrime’s 13th anniversary, since we first began helping others.
Beacon gets around Beacon Hill
We took some time for some team time. BidPrime and Beacon, as a team, also took some time to enjoy the sights, sounds, and activities found in Boston. From the waterfront, to nearby museums, a guided tour of the Freedom Trail, venerable Fenway Park, incredible dining options, and more, with everyone partaking of the gifts within the host city. The schedule included a night of team bonding, frivolity, and food at Union Oyster House, which holds the distinction of being the oldest restaurant in continuous service in the United States. Kind of appropriate as Beacon launches towards new and exciting horizons?
'The Big Bid Theory' in Boston
Speaking of getting around and speaking. Bill Culhane, the host of 'The Big Bid Theory', and Jim Ward, a founding father of the show, invested some time promoting the show, spending time with long time listeners, and meeting past and future guests. In the 8th season, the show continues to grow and welcome in special guests to discuss topics related to government purchasing, business, and cool and interesting industries.
How convenient? While in Boston, Bill interviewed the co-founders of Beacon (and BidPrime). For the story on Beacon, you do not want to miss this episode.
Spoiler alert: In the subsequent episode, Bill sat down with Dave Nash, NIGP-CPP, CPPO, CPPB, who is a presenter, trainer, and decades-long veteran of government purchasing. Find 'The Big Bid Theory' on your favorite podcast platform or visit YouTube for the video version of the big show.
In a word, incredible. Although having attended NIGP Forum previously, this was the debut for BidPrime, and Beacon obviously, to serve as exhibitors and sponsors of this exceptional event. While striving of course to make a positive impression at the Expo, the results dramatically exceeded each and every expectation. Since NIGP Forum is indeed the largest North American educational conference with numerous vendors and attendees on hand, it was very much a big deal for BidPrime and Beacon to be a part of this big event.
Notably, Beacon welcomed a consistent, steady stream of inquisitive and engaged visitors to Booth 1231. By multiple orders of magnitude, the team received and appreciated extensive positive feedback on the RFP Archive (Beacon’s enormous, searchable database of previously published bids and RFPs), the other products, and future roadmap for the Beacon solution.
As far as BidPrime specifically, the company further enhanced their well earned reputation that speaks for itself. BidPrime enjoys the highest customer satisfaction rating in the industry and BidPrime was recognized, welcomed and very well received by vendors/suppliers.
One of the messages, agreed upon by all involved, is that with BidPrime’s broad vendor network of more than 100,000 suppliers and providing comprehensive and real-time access to solicitation and documentation across North America, bidders will continue to have access to more opportunities to support their business goals within the public sector.
Josh Schwartzbeck, the CTO for BidPrime and Beacon, did very well in summarizing the week in Boston, “We were absolutely delighted to connect with a lot of agencies that expressed interest in Beacon. In addition, it was an opportunity to meet a lot of people in person. It was a fun-filled atmosphere in the Exhibit Hall, with so much to learn. As we received helpful feedback, most of all, we had the platform to display our groundbreaking tools to the industry. The social event we hosted was also hugely successful with an unprecedented number of attendees. We had so much fun and the energy was through the roof.” Well said and so true, Josh!
Until next time, be safe and be well. We look forward to seeing you in Louisville!