Connecting Founders With People Who Can Help Them Help Cities

Connecting Founders With People Who Can Help Them Help Cities

October 4th, will mark the beginning of our second year at Urban.Us. So we’re taking some time to reflect on some of the things we’ve learned in our first year. 

If Urban.Us worked perfectly, our first meeting with our founders would go something like this :
First we’d build a business model canvas together.
Second, as we learned about the value proposition, we’d quickly generate a list of prospective customers and partners.
Finally, within a few days, founders would be meeting with the people who will help them understand, build and sell their first offerings.

Urban.Us Business Model Canvas

(click the image to enlarge)

We’re still too far from this ideal, but each of the four main interest groups are represented in the Urban.Us Network – The Local Government, The Investors, The Companies and The People. And as the business model canvas shows, we’ve identified key stakeholders and interest areas within each of these groups.

We’re noticing that more and more people and organizations want to participate directory in making cities better – in fact, last week provided two fantastic examples of movements embody this desire, The Code for America Summit and Climate Week.

The Civic Tech Movement

The Code for America Summit brought together local governments and “The People” to celebrate successes and explore how they might work together on civic challenges. Code for America’s founder, Jen Pahlka, estimated that about ⅓ of attendees represented government, mainly local governments and cities. But Jen noted that an additional group was represented officially for the first time since Code for America’s founding in 2009,  “The Companies”.

Companies included startups like SeamlessDocs, Civic Insight and Munirent as well as much larger technology firms like Microsoft. Later on, GovTech Fund founder, Ron Bouganim, would take to the stage too, representing “The Investors”. The Code for America Summit revealed what we are finding to be true – tackling complex city problems is going to require us to bring together The People, The Government, The Companies and The Investors.

And in NYC, we found the same thing playing out in NYC at Climate Week.

Movements On Climate Change

Climate Week in NYC focused a lot of attention on the UN and National Governments but in many ways The Cities, The Companies, and The People gave the most reason for optimism.

The week began with The People’s Climate March. Planned for 100,000, an estimated 400,000 people participated. The message was simple, people want to see more action, but we also think it signals an increasing willingness and desire to act directly without waiting for International consensus and action.

The People were not alone. Some of the biggest news and commitments came from private companies like Apple, who has already switched to 100% renewables for their various online services. In fact climate week was underwritten by companies like CBRE, Swiss Re, BMW and Solar City.

Organizing The Urban.Us Network

We’re increasingly certain that we’re not going to be short of people and organizations who want to help founders. The biggest challenge is going to be figuring out how to connect and support the interactions so that the founders can benefit. We’ve built a new platform, organized events and met 1:1 with many organizations and we’ll share more about what we’re learning in the coming weeks.