If you’ve ever tried accessing government services online, you’ll know the experience can be pretty hit-or-miss. Some agencies invest heavily in making their websites easy to use, and stay up on trends in user interface and design. Other agencies have websites that look like they were designed in the early days of the internet.
CityBase, a Chicago startup, wants to make it easier for citizens to find and use the municipal services they need. On Thursday, the company announced it raised $6.25 million for its platform, which gathers government services in a single, user-friendly interface.
Founder and CEO Mike Duffy said his company is part of a growing tech sector, “govtech,” which is helping governments provide more modern services to their constituents. His company’s particular mission is to organize online services around constituent needs, rather than government organizational charts.
To illustrate how this would work, Duffy uses the example of a traffic ticket. Though tickets are typically issued by law enforcement officials, payment may be collected by the municipality’s court system. A platform like CityBase would eliminate the need for navigating different department websites by making traffic ticket payments an easily actionable task on the city’s landing page — alongside other services like permit and license applications, incident reports and so on.
The service is set up as a “top layer” that integrates with local government agencies’ existing online services. Once on the site, users have the option of making one-off payments or reports, or setting up a user profile. Registered users will get a dashboard view that pulls in the most relevant tasks for that user (outstanding parking tickets, for example).
Though a number of government sites already have APIs that CityBase can integrate with, Duffy said his company will build its own integrations for clients at no additional cost.
“That kind of development work is a core competency here,” said Duffy. “It’s something that you have to do once at the beginning of a relationship. So we’re happy to do it and we don’t charge for it.”
Unusually for a government vendor, CityBase operates on a SaaS payment model. (The more common approach for government tech acquisitions is to contract out the development and maintenance of one-off applications or websites.) By lowering the barrier of entry, Duffy hopes to give more governments a chance to try the service out.
To date, CityBase serves agencies in 40 different cities, a handful of which are top 10 population centers. The company currently has 30 employees, but Duffy anticipates to have 50 by year’s end.
CityBase’s Series B round was led by KDWC Ventures, which has a particular focus on B2B SaaS companies. That comes on top of an earlier $4 million round.
Images via CityBase.