Public Service Apps a Lifestyle for Startup

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Local startup AppCityLife is helping cities provide mobile apps for public services like bus schedules, school lunch menus and maps of public art displays. The diverse business model includes access for local merchants to provide coupons and a platform for developers to create apps of their own. AppCityLife founders predict they will reach about 2,000 clients across the U.S. within two years.

Launched in 2009 by Albuquerque couple Lisa and Lawrence Abeyta AppCityLife is a popular platform for local civic information.

The most popular of the local apps are “ABQ Ride” — the city’s official guide to mass transit — and “APS” — the Albuquerque Public School district’s official source of public information.

“One of our very first clients was ABQ Trolley,” Abeyta said. “And has been a great supporter since.”

ABQ Trolley is a private company started in 2009 by Jesse Herron and Mike Silva. Silva said Lisa Abeyta was very supportive in featuring the business in the app “ABQCityLife.”

“Being on the app was beneficial in the beginning as it helped spread the word of our company,” Silva said.

Since 2012, AppCityLife has added a dozen apps through a contract with the city of Albuquerque. The apps run through different departments and agencies.

“We’re getting ready to release the library app,” Abeyta said, “probably in the next six months or so.”

The partnership with the city has allowed AppCityLife to develop its core technology with a local partner while helping the city save significant tax dollars in mobile app development.

Gary Oppedahl, the director of the Economic Development Department for the city of Albuquerque, says the mobile apps empower citizens to access government information and services in cost effective ways.

According to Oppedahl, the company recently closed over $1M in seed round venture funding, which is how startup companies acquire investment between the development of new companies and technologies and has the potential to generate new high-paying jobs and help stimulus the city.

“The city of Albuquerque and AppCityLife allow the city to be on the cutting edge of civic innovation and bring access to new technologies for a fraction of the cost,” Oppedahl said.

After AppCityLife was launched as a mobile city guide in 2009, founder Lisa Abeyta was selected to pitch a new business model at a conference in San Francisco. AppCityLife was declared one of the top 20 product startups of 2010. Abeyta’s new revenue model required small businesses to help pay for features inside the app.

Abeyta says the ultimate success of the apps depends whether the app solves a need of people in their city. Instead of calling 311 for information, people can look up the information through the mobile app. She points out that the number of users matter to advertisers, but is not the best indicator whether the app is successful or not.

When merchants advertise on the AppCityLife app, they set their own budget through the platform, and the app will continue to carry the advertising until that goal is reached. The merchant or company has access to stats that say how well their coupons or ads are performing. In this way, companies can manage their own apps.

“The way we actually do our analytics at this point is provide reports to each of our clients for their apps on a monthly basis,” Abeyta said.

Both the company and AppCityLife make a percentage of the sales. In addition, the advertiser has support through a sponsorship program helping to reach the audience that the company intends to target.

One project AppCityLife is working on is with the YWCA girls club in New York City. The project consists of helping a group of young girls build an app on the AppCityLife platform. The app answers “Frequently Asked Questions” about the city. Abeyta says that while these young girls don’t code, the project gives them the opportunity to provide a solution for their community.

“This is going to be driven by them. This is them deciding what they want to do, and then we will simply be mentoring them with learning how to use the platform, build the app, but the girls will be presenting, the girls will be doing all of it,” Abeyta said.

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Company Name:

AppCityLife

Started:

2009

Number of employees:

Nine

Headquarters:

8650 Alameda Blvd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87122

President/CEO/person in charge:

Lisa Abeyta

What the company does or sells?

The company deploys civic apps for mobile, open data, beacons and wearables, it is an end-to-end solution for mobile apps in the community.

How many of those did the company make since 2012?

About a dozen apps on contract in the city of Albuquerque for different departments and agencies.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_tweetmeme][/vc_column][/vc_row]