Hazel - AI-enabled procurement marketplace for government

From Harvard to Hazel: Founders Chen and Lossner Innovate Government Bidding

What is Hazel?

Hazel is an innovative start-up, founded in 2024, that is transforming the procurement landscape for state and local governments in the United States. Headquartered in New York and supported by group partner Michael Seibel, Hazel is a two-person team consisting of August Chen and Elton Lossner. This start-up leverages artificial intelligence to modernize the bidding process, aiming to replace outdated technology and bring more high-quality bidders to the table. Hazel’s goal is to enhance the efficiency and outcomes of government procurement, which involves an annual expenditure of $2 trillion.

Who are the Founders of Hazel?

The founders of Hazel, August Chen and Elton Lossner, bring a wealth of experience and expertise to the company.

August Chen: August has a background in mechanical engineering and computer science from Harvard, where he led the MakeHarvard initiative. His experience includes developing wildfire prevention applications at Palantir, which significantly reduced the impact of wildfires in California. He has also established several successful channel partnerships, securing substantial high-margin licenses.

Elton Lossner: Elton, originally from Atlanta, holds a bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering from Harvard. During his time at university, he co-founded MakeHarvard and conducted research on using machine learning to control medical exoskeletons. Elton’s professional journey includes internships in data engineering at Capital One and aerospace engineering at Hedron. He also spent four years at Boston Consulting Group (BCG), where he led strategy and procurement cases in Aerospace & Defense for both government and industry.

What Problem is Hazel Solving?

The government contracting process in the United States is notoriously complex and inefficient. Contracts are posted across thousands of websites, each with extensive compliance regulations that make the bidding process cumbersome and time-consuming. Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) often find it nearly impossible to navigate this system, which requires responses that can span dozens of pages. A single compliance error can disqualify a submission, making the process daunting and inaccessible for many potential bidders.

This inefficiency has led to a system where incumbent contractors become more entrenched, driving up prices and reducing the quality of performance. With over $1 trillion in infrastructure funding at stake, the United States cannot afford to maintain this status quo.

How Does Hazel Address the Problem?

Hazel uses advanced AI to automate and streamline the procurement process, making it more accessible and equitable for businesses of all sizes. The key features of Hazel’s solution include:

  1. Automated Discovery: Hazel’s AI trawls through various websites to identify potential contracts that match a business’s profile, saving significant time and effort.
  2. Drafting Proposals: The AI synthesizes draft responses based on the Request for Proposal (RFP) and the company’s information, simplifying the writing process.
  3. Compliance Checks: Hazel creates a checklist of to-dos and runs compliance checks to ensure that all requirements are met, reducing the risk of disqualification due to minor errors.
  4. Efficient Registration: Hazel streamlines the company registration process, preventing last-minute scrambles and ensuring that businesses are ready to submit their proposals on time.

By utilizing Hazel, businesses can define their scope of work and pricing in minutes, rather than spending days or weeks on the process. This not only saves time but also increases the chances of winning contracts, thereby fostering a more competitive and diverse marketplace.

What Are the Active Founders’ Contributions?

Both August and Elton have made significant contributions to Hazel, drawing from their diverse backgrounds and professional experiences.

August Chen: At Palantir, August developed applications that played a crucial role in wildfire prevention, demonstrating his ability to create impactful solutions. His leadership at MakeHarvard and his thesis on geoengineering reflect his innovative thinking and dedication to addressing complex challenges.

Elton Lossner: Elton’s work on machine learning applications for medical exoskeletons and his internships in data and aerospace engineering showcase his technical prowess. His experience at BCG, where he led strategy and procurement cases, has equipped him with a deep understanding of the intricacies of government and industry contracts.

What is the Vision Behind Hazel?

The vision behind Hazel is to create an equitable and accessible marketplace for government contracts, where businesses of all sizes can compete on a level playing field. By leveraging AI, Hazel aims to dismantle the barriers that have traditionally prevented SMBs from participating in the government procurement process. This not only benefits the businesses but also helps governments achieve better outcomes by fostering competition and innovation.

How Does Hazel Benefit State and Local Governments?

For state and local governments, Hazel offers numerous benefits:

  1. Increased Competition: By making it easier for SMBs to bid on contracts, Hazel increases the pool of potential bidders, fostering competition and driving down costs.
  2. Better Quality Bidders: Hazel’s AI ensures that proposals are compliant and well-crafted, attracting higher-quality bidders who may have been previously deterred by the complex process.
  3. Improved Outcomes: With more bidders and better proposals, governments can select the best solutions for their needs, leading to improved performance and outcomes.

What Sets Hazel Apart from Traditional Procurement Methods?

Traditional procurement methods are often inefficient, relying on outdated technology and manual processes. Hazel sets itself apart by harnessing the power of AI to automate and optimize the entire bidding process. This not only saves time and resources but also ensures that proposals are of high quality and fully compliant with all requirements. Hazel’s approach represents a significant advancement over the traditional methods, offering a modern solution to a long-standing problem.

How Does Hazel Ensure Compliance and Accuracy?

Hazel’s AI is designed to meticulously check for compliance and accuracy, reducing the risk of errors that can jeopardize a bid. The platform creates detailed checklists and runs comprehensive compliance checks, ensuring that every proposal meets all necessary criteria. This attention to detail helps businesses avoid the pitfalls that often plague the traditional bidding process, increasing their chances of success.

What is the Future of Hazel?

Looking ahead, Hazel aims to expand its reach and capabilities, continually enhancing its AI to better serve the needs of businesses and governments alike. The start-up envisions a future where the procurement process is seamless, efficient, and accessible to all. By continuing to innovate and adapt, Hazel is poised to play a pivotal role in transforming government procurement for the better.

How Can Businesses Get Started with Hazel?

Businesses interested in leveraging Hazel’s AI-powered procurement marketplace can get started by visiting their website and signing up for the platform. Hazel’s user-friendly interface and comprehensive support ensure that businesses can quickly and easily begin submitting high-quality, compliant proposals for government contracts. With Hazel, the future of government procurement is brighter, more efficient, and more inclusive than ever before.