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Gov2.0 investments: Practices

27/01/2011

Recently the Gov2.0 startup SeeClickFix received $1.5 million investment. It’s not too much because the project generates profit by itself. But the fact of the investments in that initiatives shows us that the project becomes business and funds are investing into it’s growth.

I was told about SeeClickFix last year by Ben Berkowitz. SeeClickFix was created because the guys were fans of the UK-developed platform – FixMyStreet: you can mark the corresponding urban problem on the map (wrong traffic organization or garbage on the streets, ditches on the roads, etc.). You request then goes to the responsible for resolving the issue in the city cervice. When the problem is solved it changes its status to “Closed”.

I was wondering why the authorities should respond to these requests, what’s the general reason, and how are these services being connected by Ben and his team? The answer was very simple: we have everything in electronic form, we just type down the e-mail address of the responsible person and then it’s their issue.

“So you don’t control whether they accept the problem or not?”

Ben: “No, because it’s responsibility of municipal services. And we just helping them to gather information and to lower the negative in relation to their work”.

We have the clone of that project in Russia – streetjournal.org (interview with the author of the project). Is it effective or not? A matter of time and popularity amongst the citizens and city services.

Ben Berkowitz

A few days ago I had a discussion that Russian Gov2.0 projects could be only developed on the budget money and could not become a really working practices. I have a different position – I believe that we should stop the pernicious practice of developing everything on the budgets’ money and approach to everything on the business standpoint. Gov2.0 is basically the same start-ups but in the electronic government area.

Well, actually, to study the example how SeeClickFix gained the investment I called Ben:

Alena Popova: Why do they invest in SeeClickFix?

Ben Berkowitz: Because they believe in the teams’ ability to scale SeeClickFix internationally and drive civic engagement around the world.

Alena Popova: What is the premium business model that you have?

Ben Berkowitz: Professional Issue Tracking for governments. Customized smartphone apps. Connections and support for those connections to their CRM’s and work order systems.

Alena Popova: Do you believe that gov2.0 projects can earn a lot of money because mostly they are non-profitable?

Ben Berkowitz: I believe that any platform that can grow to Internet Scale can make real money.

Alena Popova: When you’ve started SeeClickFix you thought that it could be profitable?

Ben Berkowitz: We had an idea that there would be a business model

Alena Popova: What are you plans for the future and what is the next big thing in gov2.0 sphere?

Ben Berkowitz: We’ve just released a brand new SeeClickFix iPhone app, it’s very sophisticated. The android upgrade is 4 weeks away.

Alena Popova: What time did you decide that you need the investment?

Ben Berkowitz: we are going to be doing more to create local networks of people solving and reporting problems in their neighborhoods. We did not need the investment to grow at the rate we were growing. We wanted to take it to accelerate the path we were on once governments started purchasing.

Alena Popova: What are your current revenue streams?

Ben Berkowitz: Governments and advertisers.

Alena Popova: And can you tell me more about the current revenues and business model: I am your customer and I pay for… once or per each month or per year or how?

Ben Berkowitz: Some per year, some per month, you have to be flexible with governments which are not used to purchase software.

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