Month: September 2012

GovFresh Q&A: Neighbor.ly

Neighbor.ly

Neighbor.ly

GovFresh highlights the products and start-ups powering the civic revolution. Learn how you can get featured.

What

Neighbor.ly

Give us the 140-character elevator pitch.

Neighbor.ly is a civic crowdfunding platform for U.S. cities and civic-minded organizations. We help fund creative civic projects in communities that care.

What problem does Neighbor.ly solve for government?

With dwindling city budgets, Neighbor.ly provides a way for cities to pre-capitalize tough projects instead of relying on borrowed capital. Every dollar donated up-front means less a city will pay in interest. We’re beginning to steer the platform into a mechanism for cities and civic organizations to come up with a local dollar match to win federal dollars, an increasingly common requirement when looking for federal funds.

What’s the story behind starting Neighbor.ly?

Neighbor.ly launched on July 7, 2012.

The founders are Jase Wilson (CEO), Briston Davidge (COO), Chris Parrott (CFO), Shaul Jolles (CBDO) and Patrick Hosty (Advisor).

Crowdfunding civic infrastructure is a centuries old practice that the Internet has helped to simplify. Neighbor.ly isn’t a new idea, but a variation on platforms like Kickstarter and Spacehive. The concept was sparked earlier this year after founder Jase Wilson attended a presentation by Rob Goodspeed on civic crowdsourcing in other parts of the world. Soon after that, he attended a public meeting in Kansas City, MO to discuss parking ordinances along a proposed downtown streetcar line. The meeting kept getting off topic and triggered a discussion on how the city would fund said transit line. Finally, a conversation between Patrick Hosty and another Kansas Citian took place about a problem with a local bond deal in which both approved of only one aspect of the deal but not the other, causing them to not vote at all. As a direct response to that conversation, Neighbor.ly was created to let people vote with their dollars to support the civic projects that they really care about. Tough or creative projects that likely wouldn’t receive government funding but would have a positive impact on the community.

What are its key features?

Neighbor.ly works directly with entities on projects that are sometimes contingent on a vote or other process that may decide the fate of a project, even if a project is fully funded. If the project is greenlit on our side but fails to go through on the city’s side, money is directly refunded back to the donors. We’re finding that social media is really powerful when engaging communities. Twitter and Facebook are baked into the platform, so when you donate to a project you’re passionate about, you can share it with your networks and show them the good you’re doing in your community. It’s a really great way to rally supporters around a common cause.

What are the costs, pricing plans?

There is no upfront cost, just a 5% platform fee. For every dollar donated, we keep a nickel. We are exploring the idea of consulting with organizations to help them develop a strong campaign in which there would be a consulting fee.

How can those interested connect with you?

Interested parties can reach us at howdy(at)neighbor.ly or by visiting our website at http://neighbor.ly. We’re also on Twitter (@neighborly) and Facebook (facebook.com/neighbordotly).

GovFresh Q&A: Fix 311

Fix 311

GovFresh highlights the products and start-ups powering the civic revolution. Learn how you can get featured.

What

Fix 311

Who

Minh Tran, founder

Give us the 140-character elevator pitch.

Fix 311 aims to be a nationwide app for the 311 system using smartphones and GPS. Fix 311 also includes a CRM system to manage cases.

What problem does Fix 311 solve for government?

Every city is trying to build their own 311 app so they are essentially re-inventing what is already created by another city. Why not share resources and not waste tax payers money?

What’s the story behind starting Fix 311?

Fix 311 started out as the Pothole Alert App in 2010 and is created by Minh Tran after the Snowmageddon storm of 2010, which created excessive potholes in the DC area. Mr. Tran created the app after he lost a tire to a pothole and did not know which municipal to report potholes to since he lives near multiple cities and counties.

What are its key features?

  • Can be used in any city without having to download many 311 apps
  • Custom service list that self updates and lists the proper services associated with a city or county depending on the user’s location
  • In additional to performing service lists actions, the app is capable of displaying content like a mobile website, so Fix 311 is both a mobile website and service request app
  • Ability to filter reports not only between different cities, but also between different Precincts in the same city by using geo-boundaries detection
  • Ability to post news feeds, web links, and make phone calls for services that should not be reported by online form
  • Ability to filter out reports for roads not supported by a city
  • Municipal can update the service list / news feed without requiring a new app upload
  • Citizens can track and cancel cases
  • Mobile website for the work crew to manage cased out on the field
  • Open 311 compliant
  • Includes web based CRM system to manage cases reported
  • App works nationwide and Internationally

What are the costs, pricing plans?

Fees start at $600/year for smaller cities.

Video

Don’t disrupt government. Revolutionize it.

I’ve always been cool to the term “disruption,” especially how it has recently been used to address changing the way government works.

“Disruption” has a ring that’s unappreciative and dismissive of hard-working public servants. It paints a picture of bureaucrats unwilling to think different. Its hint of arrogance that “we know better and will do it with or without you” has always bothered me.

Fortunately, we now have a more productive, collaborative alternative.

During his TechCrunch Disrupt keynote, Twitter and Square founder Jack Dorsey called for an alternative, settling instead for “revolution.”

Below is an excerpt of what best summarizes why the latter is more appropriate with respect to civics, and how those leading the “government disruption” charge should re-evaluate the semantics behind it.

Dorsey:

“Disruption is like an earthquake. Disruption has no purpose. It has no values. It has no organizing principle. It has no direction, and it has no leadership … This is not what we want to bring into the world.

“What we want to bring into this world is revolution. Revolution has values. Revolution has purpose. Revolution has direction. Revolution has leaders.

“Revolution looks at the intersection ahead and pushes people to do the right thing, and it doesn’t always have to be loud. It doesn’t always have to be violent. It’s just as powerful in its stillness.

“We don’t want disruption where we just move things around from point A to point B. We want a direction. We want a purpose, and we want to combine forces and we want to cooperate to get there.

“What I challenge you do to today is pick a movement. Pick a revolution and join it … Pick something that you believe in. Pick something you want to make an impact in and then question everything and be a founder and be an entrepreneur inside those organizations and inside that movement.”

Video: