CEOCFO Magazine,
Phone: 727-480-7070



Business Services | Solutions

Medical | Biotech

Cannabis  | Psychedelics

Banking | FinTech | Capital

Government Services

Public Companies

Industrial | Resources

Clean Tech

Global | Canadian

Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor

Steve Alexander, Associate Editor

Bud Wayne, Editorial Executive

Christy Rivers - Editorial Executive

Valerie Austin - Editorial Associate



Ensis - Using Generative AI to Help Government Contractors Respond to RFPs, RFIs and Other Solicitations

Ben Lewis



Interview conducted by:

Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor

CEOCFO Magazine

CEOCFO: Mr. Lewis, what is the concept behind Ensis?

Mr. Lewis: Ensis is a startup SaaS (Software as a Service) company that uses generative AI to help government contractors respond to RFPs, RFIs and other solicitations.

CEOCFO: Why do we need AI in this arena and why do we need Ensisi AI specifically?

Mr. Lewis: When we are speaking to someone who has responded to RFPs in the past, they universally tell us that RFPs can be time-consuming and frustrating to respond to. These proposals can be anywhere from a few pages to a dozen pages or even hundreds of pages long depending on the contract you are responding to. It can take anywhere from days to weeks or months to complete a proposal.

We need AI because a lot of times when dealing with state, local, or federal agencies, you are doing similar but not the exact thing every time. While that means the knowledge base you developed as a company can be useful in responding to these solicitations, the solicitations are unique enough that you cannot copy and paste. It is not like when your web browser asks you to fill out your address somewhere and can pull that in from a database and do an exact copy and paste. These are far more nuanced and require language that is unique to the Request For Proposal itself.

Generative AI is a fairly new tool that allows a company like Ensis to use your knowledge base, the facts about the company, and what you can and cannot do, and then add language on top of that to respond appropriately. Before generative AI and the availability of large language models, the technology just could not be helpful enough to save more than 5% to 10% of the time you would spend on proposal writing.

CEOCFO: How do you show a potential customer the ease and value off Ensis?

Mr. Lewis: We give a product demo. How Ensis works is you upload anywhere from five to ten of your previous proposals. We train a specific silo’d database, which is not shared across clients; it is just for you as a customer. We train that very special database which is designed to work with our specific implementation of AI. With that database trained, we then will take a new request for proposal and upload it into our system. When we do that all in real time it only takes a few minutes and with this, we can show you how our system works.

We use artificial intelligence in two ways. The first is in parsing these documents and extracting the requirements which in and of itself can be very time-intensive and an error-prone process for a lot of organizations. We use artificial intelligence to do that and we have been trained on thousands and thousands of documents to be able to do this properly. Then we extract the requirements of the proposal and put them into a compliance matrix which is critical for government work and allows the customer to then go and fill in the proposal. Even without the rest of our generative AI that still in and of itself is incredibly useful.

On top of that, you are going into a product and we show you in real time how our artificial intelligence can respond automatically. It allows us to highlight the facts that are being presented so that you know you are getting the right responses. This sort of demo is convincing and is more convincing once we do it on your real data with your real product. When we are doing demos today, we have samples but the customers that have onboarded with us can see for themselves with real data and real RFPs. It works well.

CEOCFO: How do some of the nuanced phases take place?

Mr. Lewis: There are certain times that certain language can sound better or worse. The fact is that AI is not magic, we have a tool in place. We generate these answers and then we let you select portions or all of what is generated and you can adjust it. You can change the tone or length of what has been generated to make it sound different. Ultimately there is a human in the loop that is responsible for what is the final text and what will be submitted to an agency. However, there is a lot that artificial intelligence can do that would be difficult to do just by hand. One of those things is truly extracting the requirements from the Request For Proposal itself and understanding the goal of the RFP and then matching the language of that with the generative answers. All of that boils down to maximizing your chance of winning the bid.

CEOCFO: AI has a body of knowledge; what happens if agencies change direction and now they are putting out a request for a proposal, how does generative AI recognize that this is a newer way to look at it or something they need to add into the mix?

Mr. Lewis: Some RFPs are different from others. In the federal government, there are tons of different agencies but we also have state and local governments and thousands of government agencies each with their styles and requirements. Within that, a system like Ensis has to by default be able to handle a variety when it comes to these RFPs. Furthermore, RPs themselves are not static, they can be uploaded to a website but then change over time and then it is ideal to track those changes and work with the user when this occurs so that they can make adjustments as necessary.

CEOCFO: What have you learned from early customers who have started to use or look at Ensis?

Mr. Lewis: We learned that there is a lot of variety with these RFPs and what our customers are looking for. Ultimately this is just one step in a long process to win a government contract. It is a necessary but not sufficient tool in the entire sales process. There is a lot that goes into this and rarely are these done alone, so collaboration both inter and intra company is critical to success.

CEOCFO: How are you reaching out to potential customers?

Mr. Lewis: We are entrepreneurs. I have ten to fifteen years of experience in enterprise sales as does my cofounder. We are still relatively small. We just launched the company in beta a few weeks ago announcing our small Seed Round. To date, we are exclusively doing what is called, “founder sales;” that is contacts that myself and cofounder have or contacts that our employees have. However, most of the contacts come from our phenomenal base of investors.

We get introductions to potential customers and we go through a process where they see the product. There is a contacting phase and a security review, then we get onboarded. We intend to switch from founder sales, which is what you normally see in firms of our size, to a more robust sales pipeline once we have made our product indispensable for our early founder sold customers. Once we are at that point, we will hire a VP of sales and from there we will build out a sales team. Usually, that is what you see in SaaS startups as they grow from being a seed-funded company to a Series-A-funded company.

CEOCFO: Are there particular types of organizations, products or services that might lend themselves more or is a proposal a proposal and any company should make use of what you have to offer?

Mr. Lewis: Ultimately there are a lot of things in common from one to another however we see there are unique differences to large enterprise customers that are selling to the government. We designed not just the architecture but also the company when meeting the needs of those customers.

Our goal is to meet the needs of the larger companies selling to the government. That means if you know you are going to need a security review to be able to onboard a company like Ensis which does require uploading your sensitive proposals, then we are the right company for you to reach out to. If you know you need your company's data to be 100% siloed and separate from other customers and that is what we are set to do. For example, you need to be deploying Ensis onto your own cloud or on prem, that is something we do as well in working with customers online now.

If you are just working on small enterprises or proposals and not selling to the government there are services out there for you. However, if you are selling to the government, we have functionality, security and privacy all set up.

CEOCFO: What is the competitive landscape? Are many companies trying to get into the same space?

Mr. Lewis: There are other companies. There are a few incumbents and these are companies that are non-AI based RFP management software. This is software designed to help you through things like collaboration and authoring and RFP management. If you do not want to just use Word or SharePoint, those companies are adding AI to their products. Then several other startups like Ensis have established themselves in the RPAI sector. For the most part, we are relatively new to the industry. There were a few companies that started before Ensis and a few after.

When we looked at the landscape of what was there and what was coming, we saw a clear opportunity to go after that Enterprise Gov Con segment of the market, because these other startups do not have the background or experience to be able to offer a fully secure solution to these large government contractors.

CEOCFO: What have you learned from past experiences that have been most helpful to you so far?

Mr. Lewis: I have been an entrepreneur for fifteen years and have started companies that have generated hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. My experience as an entrepreneur has allowed me to move quickly from ideas through to fundraising though hiring and launch.

One of the key things I have learned is to spend more time upfront which is what we have done with Ensis, in establishing that there is a customer need for the product we are building and making sure that we research to segment the market appropriately and pick a target. You are segmenting based on buyer need, so what features ultimately do our buyers want that other buyers do not want, by doing that work upfront it has allowed us a very crystal-clear product strategy and crystal-clear market strategy.

The B2B business model has allowed us to onboard these customers who are influential in driving the product features and prioritizing the features. They are telling us what they need to be happy and we can execute on that.

CEOCFO: What should potential customers and/or potential investors know about Ensis that we have not talked about?

Mr. Lewis: Proposal writers should know that it is never too late to start utilizing AI. They can go to and request a demo and we will schedule a meeting and show them the products to see if it is right for them. It saves a significant amount of time so if you are an organization that sells to the government and is responding to RFPs enough and has a process around it, definitely reach out to us. There is a big list in switching from non-dedicated software to dedicated RFP management software like Ensis, which uses AI.

Investors should know that Ensis is not currently fundraising. However, as experienced entrepreneurs, we do know that investors represent a significant amount of value to companies like ours, especially as we grow and it is never too early to start the conversation. Please reach out and send us an email. I would be happy to talk and get to know you in advance. There is the Series A, which we are intending to raise maybe later this year in Q4 or early Q1 of next year.

“Proposal writers should know that it is never too late to start utilizing AI.”
Ben Lewis