FEATURED PRESS AND INTERVIEWS
PRESS RELEASE: AWS, ESRI LAUNCH PARTNERSHIP WITH GOVTECH ACCELERATOR
WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 2, 2019) - Amazon Web Services and Esri, global leader in location intelligence, will provide CivStart’s 2019 cohort of ten govtech start-ups with tools, services, and solutions to help grow and scale their businesses.
The start-ups in CivStart’s cohort go through an intensive product-development and mentoring program guided and led by notable leaders from established companies and state and local governments. Access to Amazon Web Services technologies through the AWS Activate program, along with Esri’s ArcGIS platform, will enable these companies to meet community need faster and more effectively.
Several of CivStart’s cohort members are already successfully integrating these technologies into the solutions they offer for state and local governments. Orbital Insight, for example, is leveraging AWS infrastructure and Esri technology to give policymakers the ability to monitor economic and geopolitical activity using satellite imagery and AI, thereby allowing governments to deploy resources more efficiently.
Anthony Jamison, CivStart Co-Founder and CEO, issued the following statement ahead of the partnership announcement:
“CivStart brings people together around good ideas for the public good. Now, not only are we bridging the gap between startups and state and local government leaders, but we are proud to add the technology and tools of some of the most innovative established companies — all in the service of supporting the state and local government technologies that will have real impact on the communities these governments serve.”
SMARTCITIES DIVE — ACCELERATOR CIVSTART LAUNCHES TO CONNECT STARTUPS, GOVERNMENTS
Many accelerator programs exist to help startup businesses gain traction in the competitive tech field. But few focus on products and services specifically for local governments; Startup in Residence and URBAN-X are two other city solutions-focused accelerators. CivStart touts itself as different from other accelerators because it involves public sector leaders from the start to ensure startups are on the right track to meet governmental needs.
CivStart aims to bridge the gap between the civic technology industry and state and local governments, according to CivStart Co-Founder and Chief Growth Officer Anthony Jamison. "These communities of dedicated technologists and public servants have been too isolated from each other when they could be accomplishing incredible things by working together," he said in a statement.
The chosen businesses are at different levels of development, ranging from early stages to already being more established in the market. Some of the startups focus on improving internal government operations and processes while others target citizen-facing services.
Serving government markets can be trickier than creating products and solutions for private companies. Navigating different levels of bureaucracy and understanding governmental needs and limitations when responding to requests for proposals can be difficult for young companies and their employees who don't have significant experience in that area. Securing contracts with government entities also can be difficult. CivStart will reach out to local leaders to facilitate introductions and meetings with cohort companies.
These challenges often are more pronounced for business owners of color. The difficulty for diverse businesses to break into the government space caused the organizers of an 18-month inclusive procurement challenge to publish a guide with best practices earlier this year. In that same vein, CivStart aimed to gather diverse startup founders with unique perspectives, expertise and backgrounds for its cohort.
GCN — A TECH ACCELERATOR FOR STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT
Jonathan Reichental, a senior adviser at CivStart, said: “The state and local government market is incredibly difficult to navigate for young entrepreneurs hoping to make a difference in their communities. Helping to bring their ideas and solutions to market can have enormous value."
The accelerator will help communities "by facilitating meaningful connections, proving guidance and advice, and then, ultimately, helping to turn compelling solutions into viable, scalable solutions for state and local agencies," he added.
TECHNICAL.LY DC — THIS DC-BASED ACCELERATOR FOR CIVIC TECH STARTUPS LAUNCHED ITS FIRST COHORT
D.C.-based CivStart, an accelerator program for civic tech startups that officially launched last week, announced that it has selected its first cohort of companies.
The 10 early to late-stage companies will go through a 24-month training program, where they will focus on product development with the help of mentors from the public and private sectors.
Based in Chinatown, CivStart was cofounded by Anthony Jamison, Sarah Kerner and Nick Lyell to provide companies with state and local government leaders’ guidance in order to create tech to serve the needs of underserved communities. The accelerator will include in-person and virtual lessons. GovTech Biz reported that CivStart received 75 applications for its inaugural cohort from 11 states and four countries.
“CivStart aims to fill that gap, not only by connecting people, but by creating an intensive program for start ups at any stage to develop their products for maximum impact in the communities that state and local governments serve — with a particular focus on underserved and unconnected communities,” Jamison, CivStart’s CEO, said in a statement. “That is why the cohort is comprised of diverse founders, each contributing a unique perspective and expertise based on varying identities, backgrounds, and lived experiences.”
GOVERNMENT TECHNOLOGY — NEW ACCELERATOR, CIVSTART, TO FOCUS ON GOV TECH PARTNERSHIPS
Jamison said the idea behind CivStart was connecting innovation with actual, real-world need, overcoming the obstacles between startups with helpful ideas and local governments that could use them.
“Government is dealing with hundreds of problems at once, and a lot of them, they lack the technological expertise. There are a lot of young entrepreneurs out there who are intimidated by the hurdles with the government procurement process,” he said. “We made sure we identified startups that meet the needs and address those challenges that governments are facing on a day-to-day basis … We were surprised to find there wasn’t anyone solely focused on bringing technology to the state and local government market.”
“We want to make sure, not only are we helping bring technologies to communities that are underserved or unconnected … but we wanted to focus on our program being a diverse one,” he said. “We want to try to bring startups across the entire country into the fold, and make sure the CEOs and founding teams are also diverse. While it’s not a main factor in our selection process, we do look for women and minority-owned startups.”
“That’s where we have our expertise … and all of our relationships as well. State and local is a little bit different than all these other markets. It is a lot of relationship-building to get your solution into a government. They need to know they can trust you. They need to know who you are before they will even want to do business with you,” he said. “With each startup coming through our cohort, we have identified governments that we think are in a good space for their solution, and we’ve been working on how we’re going to get them in the right place for their solutions to be adopted by those governments. But we’re approaching the entire state and local market.”"
GOVFRESH — CIVSTART WANTS TO HELP GOVERNMENT LEVERAGE TECHNOLOGY THAT SERVES THE NEEDS OF VULNERABLE, UNDERSERVED COMMUNITIES
CivStart is a new government-focused start-up accelerator that wants to ensure civic technology products “don’t get made in a vacuum — that they serve the needs of our most vulnerable and underserved communities.”
Co-founders Nick Lyell, Anthony Jamison and Sarah Kerner share their mission, and why they started CivStart.
What problem does CivStart want to solve?
In short, local and state governments are responsible for serving their communities in ways that have significant impacts on people’s lives, but have not always tapped into the best resources to do so. CivStart wants to help governments innovate their processes and tools by connecting them to effective new solutions.
We look at what we are solving from two different viewpoints, based on our audience; state and local government leaders and startups.
There are a couple issues we are addressing here at CivStart:
Identifying startup technologies that are providing solutions which address the challenges and issues state and local governments face on a day to day basis as they plan for the future. Whether that is understanding where your vulnerable populations are during a disaster so that you can deploy assets strategically or providing affordable transportation options to your communities so that they don’t have to take multiple bus lines. Our goal is to find these technologies and offer them to government leaders so that they can ensure that their communities are healthy, secure and vibrant.
Helping startups scale and enter the market the right way. We understand that startups have a mandate to grow and to grow fast (as we are startup ourselves). However, the state and local market is incredibly unique and complex to navigate for many large companies, let alone startups. A lot of business in this sector is won through relationship. Government decision-makers want to know that they can trust you, so selling to state and local requires a different approach than what a lot of these companies are used to when cornering the market. Startups need to know what the pressing issues are, and position their solutions in a way to address those challenges.
What was the inspiration for starting CivStart?
In our experience we’ve noticed:
Governments are often unaware of new technologies available to help them better serve their communities.
Many new companies don’t know how to navigate the public sector market and build relationships with the governments they want to help.
This inspired us to create a nonprofit that works with multiple stakeholders to bring these groups together and solve both issues.
What is CivStart looking for in its participating startups?
Of course, we want the biggest and brightest startups to be apart of our portfolio. However, working in the space that we work in, we can’t just be focused on the next best idea, solution, or service; instead, we seek startups who are solving real state and local problems and that we believe can have a real impact on improving people’s lives.
We try to prioritize our focus on access and opportunity for underserved and unconnected communities through health, public safety & emergency services, transportation & infrastructure workforce development, economic and community development, gender equity, civic tech, digital and financial inclusion ventures. One of our main organizational goals is to have our cohort members promoting gender and racial/ethnic diversity within the tech community.
How is CivStart supporting your portfolio companies?
CivStart helps startups forge meaningful connections with leaders in the public and private sectors to turn compelling technology into viable, scalable, solutions for the state and local space.
Each startup is in our program for 24 months, during which we’ll offer educational programming, facilitated mentorships and advisory relationships, and help cohort members build their networks in strategic ways.
We empower technology entrepreneurs to work with governments towards positive localized social and environmental change.
What does success look like for CivStart?
Success for us in many forms.
The obvious measure of success is the growth rate of our startups. We fail if our startups do not win market share; however, being an honest broker of solutions for state and local governments is also a key indicator of success.
We want governments, and the people that work with them and for them, to know that we are thinking of how we can strategically serve their needs and challenges when we engage with selecting startups technologies. They can come to us knowing that we put these startups through a program that emphasizes treating governments as partners and not just customers.
STATESCOOP — UNDERSERVED COMMUNITIES TRIAGED IN CIVSTART ACCELERATOR'S FIRST COHORT
CivStart, an accelerator for civic technology startups, launched its first cohort of 10 companies on Wednesday with a diverse array of solutions dedicated to helping governments assist underserved communities.
"How are you helping solve their opioid crisis, how are you helping them when they’re being ravaged by a tornado or hurricane, or how do you help bring back economic development and small businesses when there’s gentrification? How are you helping different people?" Jamison said.
“What separates us from other accelerator groups is … we’re bridging that gap between government and these disruptive technologies,” Jamison said. “What we’re looking at is not just providing them access to government, but to educate them on how to work with governments because of our backgrounds.”
Companies are encouraged to collaborate with each other throughout the program, Jamison said. Catherine Geanuracos, CEO and co-founder at the civic workflow software provider CityGrows, told StateScoop that she sees accelerators as sort of a business school environment in which participants are just as likely to benefit from other startups as they are to learn directly from the organization itself.
“The length of time they’re looking to be working with us is great, because as you know the pace of change in government is not always fast,” Geanuracos said. “They’re looking at some of the things that a more traditional accelerator would look at, in terms of mentorship and more structured classroom style-training.”
“It’s hard for [startups] because they have to grow fast,” Jamison said. “They don’t have time to sit here and navigate this trillion dollar market.”
Some estimates have found that state and local IT spending alone could reach $107 billion in 2019, while state and local governments collectively spend roughly $3.25 trillion a year on all expenditures.
PRESS RELEASE: CIVSTART’S NEW APPROACH TO GOVERNMENT INNOVATION
New organization provides essential connections between civic-tech start-ups and state and local government leaders.
WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 17, 2019) - CivStart officially launched on Monday with an impressive cohort of early, middle, and late-stage start-ups. These start-ups will go through an intensive product-development and mentoring program guided and led by notable leaders from established companies and state and local governments. By providing state and local government leaders’ guidance and input from the very beginning, CivStart will ensure that technology products don’t get made in a vacuum — that they serve the needs of our most vulnerable and underserved communities.
Anthony Jamison, founder and CEO of CivStart, as well as, Jonathan Reichental, Senior Advisor, will be available for interview ahead of the launch. See below for the full list of startup cohort members.
Anthony Jamison issued the following statement ahead of today’s launch:
“CivStart meets a gap I’ve seen in the civic technology world and for state and local governments. These communities of dedicated technologists and public servants have been too isolated from each other when they could be accomplishing incredible things by working together. CivStart aims to fill that gap, not only by connecting people, but by creating an intensive program for start ups at any stage to develop their products for maximum impact in the communities that state and local governments serve — with a particular focus on underserved and unconnected communities. That is why the cohort is comprised of diverse founders, each contributing a unique perspective and expertise based on varying identities, backgrounds, and lived experiences.”
Jonathan Reichental, Senior Advisor, issued the following statement ahead of the launch:
“The state and local government market is incredibly difficult to navigate for young entrepreneurs hoping to make a difference in their communities. Helping to bring their ideas and solutions to market can have enormous value. I've been impressed with CivStart, who want to help by facilitating meaningful connections, proving guidance and advice, and then, ultimately, helping to turn compelling solutions into viable, scalable solutions for state and local agencies."
For more information on the startups who will be a part of the first cohort, the notable leaders in established industry and state and local government, and more, please visit www.CivStart.org.
To schedule interviews or for other follow-up: Sarah Kerner at email@example.com or (585) 739-1574.
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