A Chat with Tobias Dawes, Founder and CEO at Avnio

Avnio enables people to work more efficiently by streamlining workflows and accelerating sales opportunities to closed-won. Avnio RFx is the first of its kind, being the only Salesforce-native request for proposal (RFP) response and automation solution, designed to reduce the time spent on RFP responses, helping you win more of the right new business and accelerate potential leads. With Avnio’s machine learning and artificial intelligence, customers can essentially automate responses to any queries in real-time, matching answers from a knowledge library – which we help our customers to build – enabling them to manage responses from end to end, without ever having to leave Salesforce.

We’re still very much a ‘new’ company, with an incredibly talented team and I am proud of the progress we’ve made over the last year, despite all the odds being against us with the Brexit uncertainty and COVID-19 pandemic. It is a testament to the industry, the team, and the technology, which continues to provide solutions to some of the biggest challenges businesses face today.
 
 
Avnio™ RFx Pricing 2021
 

How did you come up with the idea for the company?

 
Avnio started out as an idea we had back in 2019. Over the course of my career, I have worked across a number of industries, from the likes of IBM, Barclays and the Bank of England, as well as a decade spent in the Salesforce ecosystem working on cloud and systems architecture. I was exposed to so many great talents and businesses. However, there was always something missing.

Every day, sales departments generate thousands of new leads. However, they often require a mass of paperwork throughout the approval cycle and, of course, a number of queries from prospective customers. It is so important that deadlines are met, and that all proceedings are fully compliant, yet this process can be messy.

Teams are often entering data manually, sending multiple versions of the same document via email or relying on spreadsheets to build their response bank, which leads to so many bottlenecks. It was here that we realised there needed to be a new way of working, by pulling data directly out of Salesforce within one unified resource bank and introducing some level of automation for those more regular queries from clients to speed up response times.
 

 

How has the company evolved during the pandemic?

 
Avnio officially started and launched in the pandemic. I left my job in January 2020, thinking that the uncertainty of how Brexit would affect the UK and EU business to be able to trade would be the biggest hurdle we would need to overcome – how wrong we were. When the wider world went into lockdown around March 2020, there were initial concerns that the company would really struggle. Fortunately, Avnio’s technology is designed to enable people to work more efficiently and succeed from anywhere, so it presented a huge business opportunity.

Over the past year, the world has been forced into a state of change and, as a result of that, more people are open to it both personally and in business. Much like our prospective customers, lockdown restrictions meant we could not meet or pitch in person, therefore the sales cycle was entirely virtual. Whilst this took some getting used to, it meant we could actually reach far more companies and on a much more global scale. In fact, we were in a better position to scale the business. Everybody was working from home, just like us, meaning they were more contactable and open to communication.

In fact, the pandemic has revealed so many cracks in the way businesses manage their RFPs and response process, as well as the entire business workflow. We also noticed that the ramping regulations around sales was increasing dramatically – public sector and health services, in particular, all require a request for proposal (RFP) and have to ensure that they meet the compliance sales cycle, and the ‘way’ of selling has changed.

We also worked a lot on revolutionising the way high-tech and financial services companies manage their RFPs. It needs to be immediate – buyers are ready to do a transaction in an instant and need all the compliant paperwork in place. This is all, of course, accelerating at such a scale, and now taking place remotely. We were presented with the perfect opportunity and, in spite of everything, we’ve really been able to grow and succeed in a pandemic.

Since the start of the pandemic, Avnio has grown significantly – it was on the Salesforce AppExchange in April 2020, we won our first customers very quickly, and we’ve climbed so much since then. In fact, over the last year, the team has increased from just four to now more than thirty employees – most of which have still not yet met officially face-to-face. By early 2021, despite extreme circumstances, we launched a new technical solution, Avnio Tables, which is the new approach to managing your Salesforce data.
 

What can we hope to see from Avnio in the future?

 
Working in business-to-business Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), I have seen more demand for change in technology adoption and efficiency than ever before. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced businesses to operate differently and in a more distributed fashion. In fact, it has meant that we have had to be far more creative with our ideas, and look to new technology, to establish new ways of working and doing business.

Given our success and tremendous growth throughout this period, we’re incredibly fortunate to have received a lot of interest from potential investors both in Europe and the US. RFP and response management software combined with pre-sales is a strategic area for investment at the moment for a lot of VC’s and PE companies, so it feels like Avnio is in the right place at the right time. Of course, we are also looking to expand and break into new markets, as there are other areas throughout the sales cycle we are exploring – expect to hear great things in the coming months.