Locally Grown Startup Highlight
(12/16/2009) Article from Businessweek.com
By John Tozzi (posted on Dec. 15, 2009)
Municipal Complaints Made Easier
Jeff Blasius, Ben Berkowitz, Miles Lasater, Kam Lasater
Ben Berkowitz got nowhere when he called City Hall two years ago to report graffiti in his neighborhood in New Haven, Conn. His frustration became the seed for SeeClickFix, a Web site where citizens can flag such problems as graffiti and potholes to authorities. Berkowitz, a 30-year-old Web developer, and three friends built a prototype using the Google Maps API in four hours. Eventually they created a system to set up "watch areas" to alert officials by e-mail every time a new complaint comes in. SeeClickFix launched in spring 2008, but it remained a side project until early 2009, when the Boston Globe agreed to use the site for a "pothole map" on Boston.com. Berkowitz and his team bootstrapped the company—two of the four still have day jobs, and he worked from coffee shop until recently—before the group raised an undislcosed sum from angel investors in October. They plan to use the money to expand and expect to be profitable in 18 months. SeeClickFix has three revenue streams: licensing the tool to media sites, selling advertising, and selling premium accounts to cities that want to use the site for complaint management or integrate it with existing 311 systems. In May the startup landed a $20,000 contract with Houston to provide 100 premium/paid accounts for public works inspectors. Berkowitz estimates 50 to 60 cities have adopted SeeClickFix so far, including his native New Haven, which now responds to his graffiti alerts within hours.
Follow this link for more information.