◤ What Is Govtech?
At the Govtech Fund, we’re proud to be the first-ever venture capital fund dedicated to government technology startups. But what exactly do we mean by “govtech”?
Govtech startups we invest in build hardware and software tools for governments that are significantly better than existing technologies — built using modern application development practices and technology stacks, inspired from the start by the user’s experience, visually stunning, leverage the cloud, enable seamless transition from fixed to mobile interactions, sold at prices that account for ever-constrained budgets,and without vendor lock-in, endless customizations, training sessions or perpetual maintenance contracts. Through their innovation, govtech startups enable government — local, state, and federal — to become more efficient, more responsive, and better able to serve society.
But what exactly do we mean by “govtech”? To answer that question, we think it’s helpful to think about a continuum of government and citizen related technologies.
On one end of this continuum, we define “govtech” as the technology infrastructure that government departments use to do their internal work or deliver services to their “customers” ie. citizens. Around here, we like to say govtech is the “operating system” of government.
“govtech is the operating system of government”
With 89,000+ government entities at just the local level and 22 Million civil servants nationwide, the diversity of technology tools used to operate the “business” of government is extremely broad. Government uses technology to manage internal projects and procurement, to track infrastructure, to regulate zoning — to name just a few examples. Government also uses external/citizen-facing tools to deliver health care, collect taxes/fees, to issue licenses and permits, to convene citizens, to manage water and sewer, and on and on…
On the other end of the continuum, we define “civictech” as the technology infrastructure that people use to do their “job” of being a citizen. As the citizen “operating system”, civictech includes technologies that, for example, enable citizens to connect with their member of congress, gather support for a petition, organize one’s community around an important cause, organize a local park cleanup, etc.
Our first few investments reflect a sampling of the diversity of hyper-growth, govtech startups that have emerged over the past few years:
MindMixer is a community engagement platform that connects civic organizations with their constituents. By enabling idea generation, sentiment analysis and impact measurement, MindMixer provides an active and convenient way for community members to be involved in guiding decisions and policy.
(Btw, check out a few of these very cool MindMixer deployments across the country: Hagerstown, Md.; San Mateo, Calif.; Pittsburg; Kansas City, Mo.)
SmartProcure is a government procurement intelligence platform. For government agencies, SmartProcure provides invaluable local, state and federal historical purchasing data analytics — driving informed procurement decisions and significant cost savings. For government vendors, SmartProcure informs market opportunities, product trends, and competitive intelligence.
AmigoCloud is a next-generation mapping technology company, providing mobile geographic information system (GIS) solutions with advanced offline support. Available on Android and iOS devices, AmigoCloud makes geospatial data collection, administration, and sharing simple.
SeamlessDocs is enabling paperless government by providing the tools to convert any static document into a dynamic, smart, and secure online form that can be completed and e-signed from any device. SeamlessDocs is the new standard in government forms.
We’re excited to see other venture capital funds begin to recognize the govtech opportunity — indeed in just the past few months paradigm shifting govtech startups like OpenGov and Captricity have raised significant follow-on rounds of financing.
Nothing as significant as enabling government to become more efficient, more responsive, and better able to serve society happens in isolation. It takes dedicated, transformative individuals and organizations (we call them “Transformers”) focused on open data (here, here), accountability and transparency (here), showing government what’s possible (here), driving the civic conversation (here, here, here), eloquently laying out out a vision (here) and of course government itself taking the reins (here, here, here).
We’re proud to support all of their work however we can and look forward to many ongoing collaborations in the days ahead.