ArchiveSocial CEO Anil Chawla was running into the same problem over and over again—despite connections made at the nationally-recognized Code for America accelerator and early users of his software that archives social media for government workers and officials—it was really hard for the small company to get attention in the civic sector.
But Dennis McKenna had access unlike many others. He started 30 years ago and still runs the leading media, research and education company serving state and local government, Folsom, Calif.-based e.Republic. And one fateful day last fall, Chawla cornered the man at a Code for America conference, gave his 30-second pitch and began a relationship that now promises links to nearly every municipality in the nation.
Today, Chawla (pictured right) announces a $1 million investment from e.Republic Ventures (in capital and marketing services). ArchiveSocial also becomes the first portfolio company in a new e.Republic Labs innovation initiative. Chawla will get access to the company's volumes of research (typically available to giant government IT vendors like IBM, Lockheed Martin and Accenture), its 150 events each year and marketing prowess to help sell ArchiveSocial into governments around the nation.
"They're looking at a new model of helping to accelerate groundbreaking innovative technology that is scalable and beneficial to government, and using their muscle to get it out there," says Chawla, who envisions his software being a standard in government, and any other industry that needs to mitigate risk so it can fully embrace social media.
Here's how McKenna describes e.Republic's new initiative (from the company's website): We are launching e.Republic Labs and Ventures because we believe this is a uniquely disruptive moment in the evolution of technology, offering a once-in-a-generation opportunity for governments both small and large to harness powerful new tools that can dramatically improve public sector outcomes, build more livable communities and open a new era of citizen engagement.
The news is the latest in a string of accomplishments for the startup based at American Underground @Main in Durham. ArchiveSocial completed the second class of the Code for America accelerator early this year, and has since doubled its client base with high-profile accounts like the cities of San Francisco, Louisville and Charlotte. In May, it was named a "Cool Vendor in Government" by Gartner. (A previous $300,000 in funding came from the Startup Factory, Code for America, angel investor David Gardner and an NC IDEA grant.)
But this deal means physical growth. Chawla and co-founder Adam Tury (pictured left) have already added three new employees. They're already working to develop new marketing collateral and case studies, and attending e.Republic events. Word is finally getting out, Chawla says.
"We have a solution for a problem that every government on social media is facing today and is struggling with, but our biggest issue is that these governments don't know yet that we exist," he says. "We think this relationship is game-changing in this regard."