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Rheaply's CivStart Story

With intel and guidance from CivStart's program, Rheaply's made a key strategic pivot in the government market

The Challenge

Rheaply, an established startup in the private-sector, needed to learn how to navigate the state and local government vertical.


September 1, 2023

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The Project

Rheaply joined CivStart. Working with CivStart, Rheaply sought to refine its approach to government partnerships and over time shifted its strategy away from governments as direct purchasers and toward local governments as key partners.

Key Takeaways

  • Strategic Shift: Rheaply's approach to government partnerships evolved from expecting government sponsorship to a model where corporations sponsor, and local governments amplify the message.

  • Private Sector Involvement: Realizing private companies could provide more substantial support, Rheaply moved towards a successful government-partnership model, fundraising off the success of these marketplaces.

  • Business Development Transformation: CivStart played a crucial role in shaping Rheaply's go-to-market strategy in the public sector. Key advice from mentors, like Peter Pirnejad, guided the business development team in their approach.

  • Education is key: The curriculum and learning opportunities provideded helped their new S&L team understand the importance of government constraints and the diversity in government contracting.

"Through these connections, it became clear that private companies could provide bigger checks and move four times faster. The product itself actually stayed the same. Now, we are moving more of the company overall to this successful government-partnership model as a result."

Eric Lewandowski, Director of Revenue Operations, Rheaply


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The Project in Detail

When Rheaply joined CivStart, their State and Local team lacked knowledge of the go-to-market strategy in the public sector. The program proved invaluable in shaping their approach. Mentorship from individuals like Peter Pirnejad provided a sounding board for ideas and approaches. Dean Alonis, a valuable resource and sounding board, actively contributed ideas and relevant resources. Conferences facilitated numerous connections and discussions, contributing to Rheaply's understanding of the government landscape.

Participating in GovTalks provided insights into government operations, constraints, and challenges in procurement. This knowledge became instrumental in reshaping Rheaply's approach to government partnerships.

The transformative moment came when working with the City of San Francisco. Rheaply realized that private corporations could provide more substantial support, and at a much faster pace than local government procurement. The product remained the same, but the business model shifted towards successful government partnerships, attracting more significant funding and a higher number of active users.

Rheaply's participation in CivStart extended beyond direct mentorship and conferences. The Smart Cities Connect conference provided exposure and connections, leading to a pitch competition win. The North Texas Innovation Alliance (NTIA) connection, established through CivStart, has opened new possibilities for a regional governmental consortium model.

Participation in one of CivStart’s Hot Topics Webinars successfully engaged existing product champions and generated new leads and interest in the solution. This and other experiences with CivStart highlighted the importance of diversity in panels and representation in the local government space.

Rheaply continues to collaborate with city governments directly but in a new and more strategic way as partners, rather than direct customers.

As the entrepreneur's journey continues, the lessons learned and connections made through CivStart lay the foundation for ongoing success and growth. This, along with our other Startup Stories serves as a testament to CivStart's role in shaping the future of civic innovation and entrepreneurship.


Graduated Government Leaders from CivStart's Innovation Programs


Tech for Gov Newsletter subscribers


Venture Capital raised for startups in our Accelerator


Years of Government Innovation Programs


Startups in CivStart's portfolio


Mentor Network Participants


Attendees at CivStart events


BIPOC + Women Founders


Media Mentions

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