|By Jason Shueh, Government Technology|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
The fund's founder and sole managing partner,
"It's just about opening the market to competition so now startups can compete," Bouganim said. "And I just happen to be an entrepreneur and a startup guy, so my money always goes on the startups -- I think that's where the innovation comes from."
--MindMixer, a civic engagement platform;
--SmartProcure, a service procurement site;
--AmigoCloud, which offers mapping services; and
--SeamlessDocs, which provides document conversion tools for online forms.
Bouganim said the fund anticipates backing 15 to 20 startups with an average investment of about
"From our perspective, we define Govtech -- government technology -- as the technology infrastructure, the software tools and hardware that government departments use to do their internal work or to deliver services to their 'customers,' and here I mean citizens," Bouganim said. "To use tech terminology, think of it as the operating system for government."
More exceptional than the funds themselves is the investment interest attached to the fund.
The money isn't philanthropic, part of an award, an accelerator program or envisioned as a one-time deal -- the typical funding hallmarks for government and civic tech startups. As a standalone venture capital fund, Bouganim said the money foreshadows government's all but certain course to redirect buying habits and procurement practices. Highlighting his investment startup SmartProcure, he explained that the company's services are representative of the change -- SmartProcure allows government procurement officials to get an aggregated listing of vendor pricing while simultaneously giving startups access to 100 million purchase orders for goods and services from 3,800-plus agencies. Traditional vendors, he said, can no longer hide behind a lack of procurement transparency.
"In the next five to 10 years, you're going to see a wave of capital coming to the space," Bouganim said. "From the Govtech perspective, we're building an ecosystem."
Since 2009, when Bouganim first joined the civic tech group Code for America as a fellow, and later in 2012 when he directed its startup accelerator, there was a realization that government, willingly or unwillingly, would be compelled to lean on startups for innovation. It was an idea first planted by friend and
"I said, 'Wait a minute, this a
"I think it's a great start," he said, "but it's a drop in the bucket in terms of size and the amount of investment opportunities that will emerge in the space in the coming years."
Cases of demonstrable proof, he added, will act as an accelerant to get additional jurisdictions comfortable to depart from their traditional suppliers. And considering drastic cost differences -- which Bouganim said could reach as much as 100 times -- the industry may see this happening sooner rather than later.
"Once governments see they're not beholden to these traditional legacy system [vendors], and there are opportunities to experiment with new forms of technology, it will open up the floodgates," Sotsky said.
Evidence of this changing of the guard can be seen in companies like the document transcription company Captricity, which secured deals with the
"Symbolically I think it's really important for entrepreneurs to see that there is someone funding this space and that can be a great partner." Bowden said. "I think Ron has kind of set up a great niche, because he's early stage -- where it's harder to get funding from some of the more traditional venture capital firms -- and because of his knowledge of the space."
Identifying his investor groups by motivations and backgrounds, Bouganim said they fell into three groups: Technology innovators represented the first set, those who knew firsthand how cloud technologies, mobile devices and government open data had seismically shifted government. Second were investors seeking to impact government's day-to-day processes in a mutually beneficial way. And third are typical venture capital investors who'd been persuaded after an evaluation of government's obsolete systems and overwhelming demand for new technology.
Case in point is the health insurance platform Healthcare.gov. Bouganim said the website sent officials scrambling for private-sector repairs and acted as a wake-up call that government is not a self-sufficient sector.
"Legislation can be debated all day long," he said. "However, in the end, it's the execution of technology that gets the job done."
Despite great expectations, the
"There will be a fund two and fund three and a fund seven," Bouganim said "I'm going to do this for the rest of my career."
(c)2014 Government Technology
Visit Government Technology at www.govtech.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services
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