Building Innovations from Stagnancy

Alfredo Ramirez F22 reimagines RFP process with Prosal
The Prosal team seats on a couch. Alfredo Ramirez is sitting in the middle and smiling for the camera.

Alfredo Ramirez F22 has advice for Fletcher students: “Say yes to the opportunities that come your way.” During his first year at Fletcher, Ramirez’s high school friend, Nicholas López, invited him on a mountain biking trip back home in Miami. Ramirez said yes, and their trip turned out to be a pivotal moment in his life.   

As a first year MALD student, Ramirez was running a digital services company. Ramirez told López, a mechanical engineer, about how he had won and lost many clients through the request for proposals (RFP) process. López had some basic questions. “‘Why is this such an opaque process?’” Ramirez remembers López asking him. “I found myself saying one of the most dangerous phrases of the English language: ‘It's just the way things have always been done.’” 

The duo realized they could reimagine and improve the RFP process for all involved. Thus, the idea for Prosal was born. They teamed up with a software engineer and got to work.  

The team developed a basic pitch video and placed third at the Tufts $100k New Ventures Competition, which gave them $5,000 to build the first version of their product. 

Since Ramirez was a student and his business partners had full-time jobs, they moonlighted with Prosal. However, as the endeavor gained momentum from investors and the Tufts Venture Accelerator, they decided to dedicate their full attention to Prosal. At the close of a recent round of seed funding, they had raised about $1.6 million. Their platform has become a community of over 5,000 agencies and consultants, whom they connect daily to millions of dollars in new opportunities. 

Shining a Light, Forging Connections  

When he was an undergraduate in Florida, Ramirez would never have imagined he would found a company in the procurement space. He had always thought that to lead a successful life he needed to work in intelligence, politics, or volunteer with the Peace Corps, careers he describes as “more exciting.” But his experience with Prosal shifted his point of view. 

“There are so many things that smart people, especially at Fletcher, are capable of,” Ramirez added. “It doesn't have to fall inside of the box of the things that we're expected to become.” 

A few key classes at Fletcher helped him along this path. “Innovation Models for Business” with Dean of Global Business, Bhaskar Chakravorti, pulled back the curtain on startups. Ramirez took a public speaking class taught by Lawrence Quartana, which helped him hone essential skills he now uses every day. Dean Kelly Sims Gallagher’s course, “Innovation for Sustainable Prosperity,” introduced Ramirez to foundational questions surrounding innovation ecosystems and business development. 

The subject of Gallagher’s course speaks to the story of Prosal. Recognizing the stagnancy in the field as an opportunity, Ramirez and his team created something dynamic with the potential to change the industry. Similarly, from his prior experience responding to RFPs as a consultant, Ramirez was frustrated with the process’s opacity. The team identified this problem as a chance to disrupt the field and brought budget transparency to the forefront of their platform.  

Prosal requires that those posting RFPs include an estimated budget, and Ramirez said this has the potential to reduce miscommunication and misunderstandings later in the process. He also noted that 40% of their network identifies as diversity-owned and operated, a proportion which is higher than the consulting industry demographics reported by Zippia.  

“Putting a lot of these people into the rooms where opportunities are being shared, which historically speaking they haven’t had access to, I think is one of the foundational things that we strive for,” said Ramirez. “We’re ensuring that we provide opportunities and connections where they are most needed and where they are most relevant.” 

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