Maurice Harary on The Art of Monetizing What You Love
Maurice Harary is the Co-Founder/CEO of The Bid Lab and is an inspirational business leader who has learned how to monetize doing what they love. They took some time out to share their insights with Rob Barratt, Co-Founder of The Industry Leaders.
Can you begin by telling our audience a little about yourself, your business, and what led you to pursue your particular passion as a profession?
As a middle child in a family of six children, I draw parallels between my upbringing and my love of the bidding process: both require being an expert navigator of complex situations and contrasting personalities. I attribute this ability to the experiences I had growing up. Born and raised in New York City, I attended New York University’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business and graduated with a degree in Business and Political Economy. I knew, however, that I wanted to see, learn, and experience more than what one city had to offer. So I committed to spending semesters in both London and Shanghai. Living in foreign cities taught me about the intertwining nature of business, politics, economics, and culture, which has been invaluable in my career thus far.
I'm curious to know, what was the defining moment that made you realize that this passion could actually become a business? How did you identify the unique value it could bring to others?
When I was in college it was my goal to work for a large tech company. I had my heart set on working for a specific firm, but the only opening they had was on the ‘RFP’ team. Even though I had no idea what that was, I went for it. (I was on spring break in Chile at the time, so of course, I accepted!) Once I started actually responding to RFPs I found that it was work that was both challenging and rewarding, and I worked my way up to be a top performer on my team. Eventually, with a little encouragement from my Co-Founder and wife, Jordan, I took the leap and went out on my own starting The Bid Lab.
Every entrepreneur faces obstacles, especially when turning a passion into a business. Can you share some of the initial challenges you encountered and how you overcame them?
I made some foolish assumptions about who my first clients would be. I learned that it’s not about the size of a client, but about how much you can assist a business. One of our best clients came to us with just over $100,000 in revenue, and we have grown together to be multi-million-dollar businesses!
Monetizing a passion requires a solid business model. Can you walk us through how you developed yours, and the key factors that make it successful?
I’m passionate about helping small and medium-sized businesses grow and expand. Many clients come to us with no previous experience in the bidding process. Or, they come to us at the eleventh hour, stressed and overwhelmed. Unlike our competitors, we focus on our clients, understanding what makes them unique and walking them through the process with complete transparency. This understanding and focus translate into winning RFPs and happy clients. We are fortunate to showcase so many success stories in the Case Studies section of our website, which covers businesses in all industries. You can see what we’ve done for a singer-songwriter who focuses on disability advocacy, a software development company that handles pension technology, and even the Wyoming Office of Tourism that needed assistance with their procurement process. With such varying projects, it’s easy to have fun while working on RFPs and we do our best to carry that over to every client interaction. Clients trust us to get the job done with a positive outlook, no matter the time crunch or the size of the request. We’re flexible and with staff spread across the country, we’re able to be available when our clients are. And despite our light-hearted nature, we are incredibly dedicated to what we do, ensuring a high-quality experience for our clients.
Many people worry that monetizing their passion may take the joy out of it. How have you managed to balance the business aspects with staying true to what you love?
You really do have to schedule self-care the same way you would a business meeting. Put that time to work out on the calendar and treat it like an important meeting with your health. It can’t be canceled; it has to be given attention. Self-care has to be a priority. It’s just like if you want to help someone in a plane crash you have to put on your mask first. Schedule and prioritize time to care for yourself if you want to be able to care for the people and things that matter to you.
As your business grew, what strategies did you employ to scale it while maintaining the core values and essence of what made it special in the first place?
My company is remote by design, which allows me to hire the best employees. We encourage team members to take breaks and recharge and do not penalize or discourage them from using their entitled PTO. We’ve hired single mothers who need to be able to be home with sick kids, parents who homeschool, and employees who are taking care of elderly relatives. By distributing the workload and responsibilities among team members and promoting a healthy work culture, my team benefits.
Your journey is truly inspiring. What key insights or pieces of advice would you offer to someone looking to turn their passion into profit?
I, too, used to go into a 52-story skyscraper in New York City in a full suit every day. But, when I founded The Bid Lab, I remembered that the people I worked most closely with on my previous team worked out of the UK and India. Why couldn’t I work closely with people who weren’t located geographically nearby to me? The Bid Lab is, and always has been, a remote company. While there are myriad reasons why remote work is worth championing (environmental impact, productivity, work/life balance, etc.) one of the reasons why I think it works best for The Bid Lab is because it allows us to hire from a unique pool of individuals. I’m looking at you, an amazing writer, living 3 hours outside of Albuquerque who needs to be available to her elderly mother in the afternoons. And I’m also looking at you, a sales superstar who wants to homeschool her kids, but can also sell ice to an Eskimo. I’m proud of the fact that The Bid Lab is made up of a team of individuals who have individual needs but also a common ability to log into work wherever they may be.
Reflecting on your journey so far, what are you most proud of? What future developments or projects are you excited about in your business?
We recently launched our new RFP search engine, Bid Banana. We wanted to make searching for RFPs both easy and accessible, especially for small and medium-sized businesses. I am beyond proud of what we have been able to accomplish. We’ve created a search engine that pulls RFPs from all over and puts them into a user-friendly interface. You can search by RFP due date, keywords, location, etc. We even added a favorites feature so you can save multiple bids and compare them to see which one is the right option for your business. Allowing small and medium-sized businesses access to RFPs in an easy to comprehend format really emphasizes what we are most passionate about - helping businesses grow to achieve their full potential.