Building And Launching A Marketplace For International Business Development Expertise

Susanne @Keylime
May 14 · 5 min read

From scaling a consulting firm as an industry expert to now launching a worldwide marketplace, this is the Keylime story!

After 12 years leading business development and proposal teams at Chemonics International, I transitioned to spread proposal best practices throughout the industry via Keylime Consulting. During the past few years, we’ve been able to help organizations of all sizes and specialties secure development funds to implement impactful programs around the world. Building and running a consulting firm has been incredibly rewarding, but I quickly found myself hitting bandwidth constraints as demand increased, and while we were able to meet clients’ needs I knew we needed to be faster and that clients want to know more about their consultants. I was experiencing once again what I already knew from being a Business Development director: organizations need consultants with niche skills, on short notice, for assignments with shifting deadlines.

My entrepreneurial streak kicked in and I quickly saw an opportunity: the constraints of running a consulting firm were actually the case for building the Keylime marketplace.

The Need

As the world is shifting to mobile teams, remote working, and gig economies, more professionals are working as independent consultants and organizations are making more use of this flexible talent pool. But approaching new work with old methods is creating inefficiencies in our industry. Consultants say they circulate their CV once a quarter to remind clients that they are available and then carefully decline opportunities when they are booked, knowing they could quickly become available again with shifting priorities. Organizations — particularly BD teams — spend days hunting for the right consultant when the clock is ticking on 30-day deadlines. Staff dig through CVs or databases and send blast emails, executives convene and brainstorm names, and management staff sift through their rolodex. When they don’t find the right resource that may mean a missed opportunity or that some employees will be working nights and weekends to meet the deadline.

There is a clear and constant demand for consultants in the field of International Business Development. It’s a very fragmented talent pool, one that has constantly-changing availability and niche specializations, and organizations have limited access to information that transparently communicates availability or validates consultant capabilities. It’s time to close the information asymmetry gap for international development.

The Idea

For years my group of new business colleagues and I would go out for drinks and we’d talk about how we needed a better way to source, vet, and quickly hire qualified expertise. In almost every conversation, we arrived at the same conclusion that there needs to be a better solution, which has been a constant affirmation that someone needs to start a marketplace like Keylime.

After working on both sides of the business — as a BD director and running a consulting firm, I developed a detailed understanding of the needs and behaviors of consultants and organizations and developed a clear vision of what needs to be done. I knew it was the right time to build and launch a marketplace that will support everyone in the industry to grow together. The idea and plan for building and launching Keylime was put into action!

The Keylime Solution

Keylime is a trusted marketplace for International Business Development expertise. After speaking with and working with 50+ consultants we’ve built a marketplace that caters to our industry’s niche consultants who have specialized skills in proposal development for USAID and other donors. We make it easy for consultants to quickly signup to Keylime, be vetted by our team, get matched with the right jobs, and be hired in minutes. We handle taking things like vetting, matching, all documents, payment, and more off the shoulders of consultants so they can focus their time on substantive work. A profile on Keylime allows consultants to showcase and highlight the skills and experience that hiring clients want to know about and aggregate reviews that validate a consultant’s strengths, making it easier to move from initial discovery to paid consultancy in minutes.

For companies, we’ve made hiring the right International Business Development expertise easy. You can apply to join Keylime as a company or organization, we will reach back out to you with a personalized onboarding experience, understand your exact needs, and match you with the right expertise. International development organizations will spend less time tracking the availability of dozens of consultants, shuffling CVs around, and scrambling when you have urgent needs and more time on designing and implementing programs to improve conditions around the world.

Our marketplace is a big step for the industry and one we hope will remove most of the challenges and inefficiencies that exist!

Our Progress

So far, we’ve made a ton of progress with building Keylime as a marketplace. We are live at and if you are a consultant, you can join today. We have hundreds of vetted and qualified consultants in our marketplace are always looking to have others join us and be a part of our Keylime community.

For companies, we are currently in beta, but if you are interested in joining Keylime you can apply and let us know you’re interested here. We’re being very selective with scaling so we can have the opportunity to work closely with companies, hear how we can improve, and slowly allow others to join.

If you’re looking for a more personalized experience and some of our more premium services, you can still engage with our team at Keylime Consulting. We’ve relaunched Keylime Consulting as the concierge arm for Keylime marketplace.

We’re super excited to share our news as we launch our new marketplace, update our community more, and also share what we’re learning along the way. We’re going to share it all, the good and bad of bootstrapping our marketplace, so follow along on Medium and on our social below for more as we continually update the Keylime community.

We’re @KeylimeHQ on Twitter, on Facebook, Linkedin, and you can reach us directly at or by simply replying below!

Keylime Corner

News, updates, insights, and more from the Keylime team.

Susanne @Keylime

Written by

Founder of Keylime (, the trusted marketplace for International Business Development expertise.

Keylime Corner

News, updates, insights, and more from the Keylime team.