A CivicTech Startup Story & Case Study

The Problem: Low Civic Engagement

We all know that government agencies are a few decades behind when it comes to technology. They spend billions of dollars on civic engagement with low return, yet budgets are shrinking. On the other hand, we residents are unaware of the local-public services, events, and programs, and many times are clueless how to deal with civic issues.

The Solution: City-Resident Communication Platform

To me, aggregating and curating content from a wide range of sources felt very natural. After all, I had dedicated the past decade of my career solving information architecture problems.

Lupn’s mobile app and CMS
Lupn’s value proposition

The Market and Business Model

The market and business model are one of the most fundamental aspects of a startup. With a TAM (Total Addressable Market) of 22,519 cities and counties in the U.S. spending $53B in IT solutions per year, we were aiming at 2,600 mid-size cities and counties for our SAM (Serviceable Achievable Market), and 500 cities for SOM (Share of Market). The business model started with a basic annual subscription fee for the government. The plan was to later include premium features like calendar integration, multichannel content publishing, emergency alerts, and more; we would also include advanced features for local nonprofits and local merchants. We explored advertising in the mobile app by experimenting with GoogleAds, but realized there would need to be a massive engagement per city for it to bring any return.

The Results: MVP, Sales and Lessons Learned

The Lupn mobile app was approved by the App Store and made available for the 220,000 residents of the City of Glendale, CA to download on April 5th, 2018. With a 50% registration rate, 1,000 WAU (weekly active users) and over 100 new events per week, after a few API integrations, user acquisition and engagement was growing well, but yet not fast enough.

Promoting Lupn at the city’s fair

Conclusion

These days, in addition to my consulting activities, I enjoy sharing my story and presenting talks on “What Your Startup Can Learn from My Failure” with business and entrepreneurial communities. We have all failed or will fail at one point or another. After spending 3 years building Lupn and failing, I was faced with two options: to keep what I learned to myself and apply it to my next venture, or to share it with other aspiring founders in an effort to help them save money and time with MVP iterations, and to consequently, achieve product-market fit faster and scale.

“Don’t be afraid to fail, after all, that is the best way to learn.”

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Adriana T. Torresan

Adriana T. Torresan

33 Followers

Product Management leader and consultant. Entrepreneur. Helping startups and SMBs to validate market needs and delight users with a fearless product strategy.