The unknown story behind CitySourced

Yesterday afternoon I visited a startup, CitySourced, that is so new that they haven’t even bought any chairs yet. So we sat on the floor. Me. Kurt Daradics, co-founder. And David Kralik.

You probably know that CitySourced almost won TC50 (they came in second and today Sarah Lacy called them out as one of the few companies she saw that was trying to change the world). You’ve probably seen the boatload of press that came from that.

You probably know that CitySourced was one of the few companies to actually bring a customer on stage (a councilman from San Jose, CA, one of the largest cities in California and centerspot in Silicon Valley).

You probably know that Kralik worked for Newt Gingrich on a bunch of eGovernment initiatives (I’ve interviewed him before for Fast Company).

But what didn’t you know?

I bet you didn’t know that their product didn’t exist five weeks ago.

I bet you didn’t know that they had less than $100,000 in investment.

I bet that you didn’t know that about a week ago they thought they had been turned down for TC50 and that they would have to decide whether to be in the Demo Pit.

It’s an amazing story and more will be told when we get the video up on building43 in a couple of weeks.

What did they make? Something very simple. It’s an iPhone app where you can report things that are wrong in your city. But there’s more to the story than that.

How big a company can they be? Well, let’s say they get even a few percent of Americans using the app. Imagine all the candidates who will want to advertise there, or study the data for new ways to win. Imagine a screen that says “so and so isn’t going to fix your potholes in your street, but I will.” I’d give that girl or guy my vote!

CitySourced is an amazing story that’s just getting started. Wait until you hear their tips for winning TC. I love stories of how a few people get together with very little investment and try to change the world. Anyone else?

Published by

Robert Scoble

As Startup Liaison for Rackspace, the Open Cloud Computing Company, Scoble travels the world looking for what's happening on the bleeding edge of technology for Rackspace's startup program. He's interviewed thousands of executives and technology innovators and reports what he learns in books ("The Age of Context," a book coauthored with Forbes author Shel Israel, has been released at http://amzn.to/AgeOfContext ), YouTube, and many social media sites where he's followed by millions of people. Best place to watch me is on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/RobertScoble

Comments

  1. I'm so proud of them. CitySource did an amazing job presenting at TechCrunch50. I wish them the best of luck. I hope they get some chairs soon too. :)

  2. Cool idea. But I think it's just that, an idea, not really a business — not until cities are on board and actually engaged. I shouldn't need an iPhone or Palm Pre to participate, either.

    Meanwhile, Yahoo! Local is actually helping people help themselves: http://local.yahoo.com/neighbors/ no iPhone required.

    (disclaimer I helped bring this product to life when I was at Y!)

  3. CitySourced is still my top pick for TC50. I plan to share their story with every municipality that I visit with across the rural US. I'm really looking forward to your video Robert. Nice to see you again!

  4. uVince- hey man I think you'd really be impressed with our engagement strategy. We can deliver the complaints to over 1900 cities, and the fact you can use your mobile phone to snap a photo and it picks up the location and delivers it, and it takes less than a minute is something that I think lots of folks will use.

    I'd be willing to bet you $1000 that our app (or something like this) will take off in the next year. I'd be willing to bet you another $1000 that it's our app.

    You feeling luckY?

  5. Robert, you need to interview Jeremy Hanks, who founded Doba.com (a Utah company) on his own dime with a few others and no investment. They bootstrapped the entire organization and haven't taken a dime of investment money. They're now profitable and one of the most successful companies in their genre. I believe he's visiting San Francisco right now – you should shoot him a message. He's @jeremyhanks on Twitter. Tell him I sent you. I think you'll love his story.

  6. To change my corner of the world, I'm creating a machine that treats carpal tunnel syndrome using massage.

    And that is just the beginning. There are dozens of problems caused by muscular stiffness and my company, Deep Therapeutics, will take on a bunch of them.

    There is no need for us to hobble off to the nursing home. We can solve these problems for the billion that suffer from them.

  7. Kurt – I like that confidence!

    I was willing to try the app since I live a few miles from San Jose, but I couldn't find it in the appstore. Let me know if you need another beta tester or if there is a way to get the app I'm missing.

    You may also want to consider giving access to folks who don't own iPhone or Pre. In my neighborhood in Sunnyvale at least 20% of the voters don't even have email.

  8. Exciting!

    I'm very curious to hear what their definition of “signing up” is and what cities think they need to do in order to make the process work.

    There is a difference between setting up a dead-simple issue reporting channel and the city actually committing to resolve those problems.

  9. Exciting story to hear about a start-up coming together. Thought you would be interested in a similar story: SeeClickFix.

    SeeClickFix allows citizens to report non-emergency issues, publicly document them and automatically send alerts to governments and others. There's website, open data with XML, KML, etc. and a live iPhone app, too. And 10,000s of people have already used the site.

    Check it out at: http://www.seeclickfix.com.

  10. I watched most of TC50 and was really impressed by their presentation. I am rather surprised that they came up with this in 5 weeks, but I also see them as a potentially a real game changesr . . . we need to harness the growth of technology in our hands to change the world . . . instead of the blathering talking heads on television. Whether Citysourced gets a ton of press releases and some news coverage as a result of TC50 is immaterial – what is more important is that we saw a demonstration that showed us that we can all use tech to make an impact in our world. So go Citysourced!

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