Tim Goltser and Curtis Mason have been constructing things together since highschool, when the 2 were co-captains of their school’s robotics team. In college, Goltser and Mason teamed up with Sean Doherty, whom Mason met while attending Boston University, to develop an app, Hang, to plan get-togethers with friends.

In 2022, Goltser and Mason – together with Doherty – felt the entrepreneurial itch again. After considering a couple of ideas, they settled on what they saw as a largely unaddressed market: tools that help small businesses secure U.S. government contracts.

“The federal contracting community has seen much of the small business industrial base shrink over the past decade,” Doherty told TechCrunch. “It’s hard for these corporations to compete with giants like Lockheed Martin or Northrop Grumman. It’s also expensive for them to bid on contracts – in the event that they don’t win, they could run out of cash.”

Because of labyrinthine systems and mountains of paperwork, looking for and bidding for U.S. federal contracts is a laborious process. According to Doherty, it takes no less than weeks to finish – and sometimes the businesses with the very best resources are essentially the most successful.

In a 2023 survey by Setscale, a contract financing startup, small business owners cited inadequate money flow and dealing capital — in addition to a scarcity of time and resources — as their biggest obstacles to securing government contracts.

To give these small businesses a lift, Goltser, Mason and Doherty founded GovDash, a platform that gives workflows to support government contract acquisition, quoting, development and management processes. GovDash was accepted into Y Combinator in 2022; Goltser dropped out of faculty to assist out.

GovDash is actually a contract proposal generator. The platform robotically finds contracts that could be relevant to an organization, reads the RFPs and – using generative AI – creates proposals

GovDash can search tender documents to discover requirements, requested formats, evaluation aspects and contract submission schedules, says Doherty. Doherty says it may well also discover contracts that an organization might qualify for based on its past performance and send notifications to the inbox of the shopper’s selection.

“If a contractor wants to answer a government RFP, they will run it through GovDash to generate a bid in a fraction of the time,” Doherty said.

Now generative AI makes mistakes. This is a well known fact. So why should corporations expect GovDash to be any different?

Two reasons, argues Doherty.

First, GovDash has developed a system that compares an organization’s information to find out how relevant the corporate is to a selected federal contract. If the relevance – as judged by the system – is just not obvious, GovDash will prompt the corporate to create sections of the contract proposal with further information.

GovDash’s platform seeks to automate most of the more tedious facets of processing and securing U.S. federal contracts.

Second, GovDash requires extensive human verification. At each stage of the offer creation process, the platform contacts a human reviewer to receive their seal of approval.

These steps – cross-checking and human verification – will not be infallible, Doherty admits. But he claims they’re higher than what many competitors are doing.

“Companies now have one place where their business development data flows seamlessly, with an AI agent at the guts to automate tedious workflows,” said Doherty. “This is a large win for senior management as they will submit more, higher quality proposals in a fraction of the time and put all associated workflows on autopilot.”

GovDash’s competition is growing – fast.

GovDash competes with Govly, whose platform allows corporations to evaluate, search and analyze government contract requirements from disparate sources. A more recent competitor, Hazel, wants to make use of AI to automate the invention, drafting and compliance of presidency contracts. Interestingly, each – in addition to GovDash – are supported by Y Combinator.

However, Doherty maintains that GovDash is well-positioned for expansion.

After raising $12 million this month from investors including Northzone and Y Combinator, including a $10 million Series A funding tranche, GovDash plans to expand its engineering team and hire additional federal proposal managers to steer its product efforts and add recent features to its existing platform.

New York-based GovDash, which has six employees, currently works with about 30 federal contractors across the U.S., Doherty said, and is “near” money flow positive.

“We are constructing our customer base for the long run,” Doherty said. “(We are) well capitalized for any market tailwinds.”

This article was originally published at techcrunch.com