In March of 2015 I left my job at DigitalOcean and started looking for something more fulfilling. I was accepted into the Blue Ridge Labs Fellowship, a user-centric design program that seeks to use technology to solve problems that affect low-income New Yorkers. The fellowship is over, but my team of three is still moving.
“What’s that mean?” you ask: I spent 12 weeks speaking with 100+ people in all five boroughs, finding problems that we could solve, and quickly building, testing, and releasing new ideas based on new information. We quickly identified a pattern whereby people find programs—like skills training courses—but lack effective access to program organizers at that critical moment of discovery. This results in signifiant drop-off and reduces the potential impact of great programs while burdening program coordinators with the task of following up with people who have already expressed interest in their service.
So, we solved it. We are building an SMS platform that connects people with programs at the critical moment of discovery while allowing program coordinators to focus on running great programs. Our service is called Populace and we’ve already signed up 11 community organizations in NYC who are now actively using it to access, remind, and organize their constituents as they move through the program funnel. We’re making it simple for these small organizations to keep track of people who need their services without resorting to heavy, expensive CRMs like Salesforce.
We’re incredibly excited. But we also need help. We’re expanding our service to include small businesses with the goal of subsidizing the needs of our non-profit clients with the revenue we make from for-profit customers. This is expensive, and we’re in need of funds. We’re hot on the trail of several grants and funding opportunities, but none of those will come through until October. In the meantime, we’re running an Indiegogo campaign to fill the gap so we can eat and stay focused on the product. We’d love your donation, and if that’s not possible, we’d love for you to share what we’re doing! We’re passionate about the change we’re making, and we’re in it for the long haul, so any feedback or suggestions you have, please send them along! And if you’re interested in getting updates about our progress, just text “Hi Populace!” to (917) 791-6010.