Request for proposals

Franklin County Innovation Sprints Consultant


Franklin County Forward Cities is a two year initiative whose mission is to strengthen Columbus’ entrepreneurial community by working together to make it more inclusive and equitable. This includes increasing the number of small business owners and entrepreneurs in the areas of King Lincoln and Whitehall (with an emphasis on minority and women owned businesses). 

Funded through a partnership by the Franklin County Board of Commissioners, the Columbus Foundation, Rev 1, and Columbus Partnership, and informed through a community-drive process, two neighborhoods – King Lincoln and Whitehall – have been selected to pilot projects designed by small business owners that will help grow their businesses.. We are seeking a qualified Business Coach/Consultant to help develop and implement one such pilot program.

the Small Business Innovation Spirits

The proposed pilot program would provide an accelerated opportunity for existing retail businesses to gain the knowledge, expertise, and capital infusion to take their retail-based business to the next level. Facilitated half-day sprints would bring together a curated fractional ‘C-Suite’ of experts (strategy, finance, marketing, HR, technology, etc.) to provide high-level consulting to help entrepreneurs identify barriers to growth and ideate on solutions to remove the barriers. 

Upon successful completion of the program, participants will each receive up to $5000 of capital infusion (cash, in-kind services or abatements) to be spent on solutions/strategies identified in the action plan.

Goals of the Program

In its pilot phase, this MVS will target 5-7 existing retail entrepreneurs whose businesses earn between $200,000 and $500,000 in gross revenue annually, located in the King Lincoln and Whitehall neighborhoods of Franklin County. (We define retail as any qualifying business to consumer business.)

Business Coach/Consultant Expectations

We are seeking a Business Coach/Consultant to help develop and implement the following program components:

  • Program Intake
    • Program Application
    • Program Intake Interview
    • Participant Selection
    • Mentor Training
  • Assessment
    • 1:1 Strategic Business Assessment performed by coach/consultant
    • Develop procedure and documentation for site visits (Coach/consultant to do a site visit of each entrepreneur’s retail space to include in assessment, if applicable)
  • Innovation Sprint
    • Coordinate logistics and lead half day innovation sprint with a team of “C suite” expert volunteers (ex. Strategy, marketing, legal, operations, HR, finance, etc.), per entrepreneur
    • 30 day follow up questionnaire and procedure

The development phase will be completed in a window (described in detail below) that runs from October to December 2019. The general expectation is that this engagement will take approximately 60-70 hours in the implementation phase, which will run from January 1st and March 31st 2020. 

The Consultant will be expected to work with community partners as needed to develop program components and materials.

Minimum Credentials

  • Demonstrated experience working with diverse entrepreneurs
  • Familiarity with the targeted communities
  • Experience with program design and delivery
  • Ability to work independently
  • Understanding of resources that entrepreneurs need to be successful
  • Familiarity with entrepreneurial support organizations, programs, and resources present in Franklin County
  • Experience working with growth oriented retail business

TiminG of Engagement

  • SEPT 19 – OCT 7: Forward Cities collects proposals
  • OCT 14: Finalize contract
  • OCT 21 – NOV 27: Recruitment and selection of pilot participants (with support from Forward Cities team)
  • NOV 1: Deliverable #1 (delivery of mentor training session; session materials and agenda will be provided by Forward Cities staff)
  • NOV 20: Deliverable #2 (draft strategic assessment template, site visitation template, and 90 day plan template to be used for Innovation Sprints)
  • DEC 5: Deliverable #3 (revised strategic assessment template, site visitation template, and 90 day plan template to be used for Innovation Sprints)
  • DEC 9-20: On-boarding of participants
  • JAN 2: Begin working with selected entrepreneurs
  • Mar 31: Deliverable Final report (and collection of surveys created by Forward Cities team)



Proposal Guidelines

 The proposal should include: 

  •  Qualifications of business coach/consultant, as well as any additional support staff or contractors (if applicable)
  • Outline of proposed Scope of Work
  •  Description of process to develop and implement a pilot program to serve 5-7 existing retail entrepreneurs, including estimated hours, and other pertinent information.
  • If applicable, organization description, size, and structure. Indicate whether the firm is small or woman- or minority-owned business.
  • A detailed budget for the proposed work.
  • Examples of past success working with entrepreneurs

Closing Submission Date

Proposals are due by 5:00 PM EST on Monday, October 7th.


Inquiries concerning this RFP should be directed to LC Johnson no later than Wednesday Oct 2nd.

LC Johnson

 Local Director of Community Entrepreneurship, Franklin County

[email protected]

Conditions of Proposal 

All costs incurred in the preparation of a response to this RFP are the responsibility of the bidder and will not be reimbursed by Forward Cities or its local partners.


Submission Instructions 

Proposals should be submitted in PDF format via email to [email protected] before the closing submission date.