What is a Civic Startup? A startup or business that directly or indirectly helps the government function better and become more efficient in citizen services and engagement. Code for America (CfA)’s accelerator program wants to disrupt how public service functions.
The CfA Accelerator is an early stage seed startup accelerator focused on the civic space – that is, government, community, and the interaction between the two. The way we engage with the government today on all – local, state and federal – levels is increasingly through technology. This presents a huge opportunity for entrepreneurs and startups to build products that make the experience as easy and effective as other consumer products.
The Code for America Accelerator aims to “turbo-charge” select civic startups by providing them an opportunity to amplify market awareness of their product, to access a wealth of business training and advice, and to be introduced to a broad network of potential investors and civic leaders.
CfA sees three models for startups that’d fall within the civic space: 1) they provide services on top of open government data; 2) they bring modern web technologies directly to governments; 3) they change the way citizens ask, get, or need services from government.
What does the program offer?
The 4-month program focuses on civic startups, providing them the network and training needed to grow their businesses. Every month, the startup teams are brought together in CfA’s San Francisco offices for intensive week-long curriculum led by industry experts; coupled with networking events with investors. Throughout the program, the startups have access to hands-on mentorship, administrative support, and office space. Perks include:
- A $25K grant to help grow the business; no strings attached
- A place to work in San Francisco with desks, wifi and snacks
- Direct connections to the tech-savvy government decision-makers
- Access to and support from a rockstar set of industry, VC, and civic leaders
- A big (and growing) stage for the world to become aware of your company, team, and product.
- Trainings from the industry’s best on how to build a business, generate revenue, market, and scale.
The inaugural class of the 2012 Accelerator was composed of 7 civic startups developing real, sustainable solutions for challenges faced by government.
About Code for America: Founded by Jennifer Pahlka in 2009, Code for America is a non-profit that’s trying to make government work more like the internet: more open, more efficient, and more collaborative. Code for America launched with the CfA Fellowship, an annual program, which pairs passionate technologists with innovative city governments to build new solutions to civic problems. The CfA Accelerator is an outgrowth of our learnings from the fellowship; primarily a realization that while change from the inside of government is necessary, it must come from the outside as well.