The nonprofit civic tech organization Code for America has announced its Accelerator Program’s 2014 Civic Startups. And APIs are at the center of how many of this year’s class of entrepreneurs operate.
Code for America’s Accelerator Program is an annual mentorship and support program aimed at startups focusing on providing products and services to the nation’s city and state governments.
Above: Code for America Accelerator Class of 2014 startups.
“Our unique program is ideal for civic startups selling to local governments,” says Dharmishta Rood, accelerator manager for Code for America (CfA). “The selected startups spend one week a month in San Francisco in intensives, focused on learning, networking and business development. During the subsequent off-site weeks, the startups can return home or work from our office (just blocks from Twitter and City Hall) in San Francisco. This is ideal for startups working with governments in their local area. Additionally, startups in the program have access to our Summit as well as a demo day.”
The Accelerator Program has helped previous alumni achieve significant funding and build viable business models based on providing civic tech products and services. “Our 2013 [alumnus], SmartProcure, achieved several hundred agency signups within weeks after last year’s summit. Other CfA Accelerator graduates include MindMixer (an Omaha startup that has so far received $6.2 million funding) and Captricity (which has received $6.9 million in funding).”
This year’s chosen Accelerator participants are:
- AmigoCloud: Founded by Ragi Burhum and Victor Chernetsky, AmigoCloud is a next-generation mapping technology company, providing mobile geographical information system solutions.
- MuniRent: Founded by Alan Mond and Julien Vanier, MuniRent is a Platform that makes it simple for local governments to lease heavy-duty equipment to other local governments.
- ProductBio: Founded by Angela Chen, a Cambridge- and UC Berkeley-trained evolutionary ecologist, and Andrew Huynh, ProductBio’s data platform uses a patent-pending algorithm to identify a product’s sustainability features to enable buyers make greener, ethical and local purchasing decisions.
- SeamlessDocs: Founded by Jonathon Ende, SeamlessDocs, a modern replacement for the PDF, converts any existing PDF through a proprietary technology into a dynamic document that can be completed and e-signed from any device.
- Trailhead Labs: Founded by Ryan Branciforte and Jereme Monteau, Trailhead Labs partners and collaborates with outdoor groups to build technologies that connect and engage people with the outdoors.
What is obvious with the 2014 Accelerator class is that the majority use APIs to create value in the products and services they provide.
For example, AmigoCloud provides an API that allows import and export of location data to more than 80 geospatial formats and enables advanced searching and instant map creation for mobile devices. Meanwhile, Trailhead Labs is working to release an OutdoorSpatial API that will be at the core of a platform that helps park agencies to manage and publish their outdoor data. MuniRent consumes APIs such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency's API to populate equipment descriptions, much like an e-commerce website might use something like the Indix API to describe products.
Rood believes using APIs encourages both businesses and city authorities to move toward standardized formats for open data and APIs. This is at the heart of fostering innovation and speeding up the development of civic tech solutions. “Code for America has seen more Accelerator companies pursuing endeavors with open standards, which is exciting. When data can be standardized, government can act as a platform, such as census data providing shared geography or demographics, opening the door for all sorts of new civic innovations,” says Rood.
Throughout next week, ProgrammableWeb will profile how APIs are being used with each of these Code for America 2014 Accelerator startups.