It feels like yesterday when we formed iConstituent in a small garage. But, its been nearly 12 years now. Fortunately for us, two of the founders of iConstituent had an empty garage in Anaheim, California. So, we used it until their parents kicked us out. After that, we moved to an industrial garage near Disneyland. The new garage space had no heating or air conditioning.
Those garage days have long since gone and we have had plenty of ups and downs since that time, but we persevered because we believed that government would look for efficient ways to connect with people – and we were excited about the tremendous opportunities that lay ahead.
Our first paying customer took us many months to obtain. After dozens of meetings and countless drives to Los Angeles City Hall, we finally signed former Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn. He used our product (an eNewsletter that tracked basic results and that provided some essential metrics) to help promote Los Angeles area restaurants after 9/11, and the results were outstanding. It worked and thousands of people received and read his message. How much did it cost the City of Los Angeles? $250. Inexplicably, he never used the service again. According to his staff, it was too expensive.
Disappointment never stopped us. We continued to forge ahead, believing that it was not a question of “if” government would adopt newer technologies to communicate with constituents, but “when.” We were right. In 2004, our little company began to grow.
Today, iConstituent is at the forefront of citizen engagement. What made us great nearly 12 years ago is still in our DNA today: we are, first and foremost, entrepreneurs and innovators. These two elements have been key to our overall growth. It’s true that some of our ideas flopped along the way (remember Virtual Town Halls, BuzzMetrics and MyCongress?), but we had the courage to try.
After our acquisition of InterAmerica Technologies in 2010, our business changed overnight; we went from a small company with a few employees to a much more substantial company with over 50 employees. Four years later, we are still a small business, composed of 50 hard-working people, dedicated to bringing change to citizen engagement, though technology and innovation.
As we move ahead in 2014, iConstituent will continue to refine and focus its business strategy. So far, 2014 has gotten off to a great start: we released a new version of our core product, Signal CRM and our Constituent Gateway eNewsletter PLUS is one of the most widely used digital communications tools for elected officials in Congress and throughout the country.
An old musician friend of mine once told me many years ago that “my head is in the sky, but my feet are on the ground.” This basically sums up iConstituent – we dream big things, but work endlessly to bring incremental, but substantive change, to the way government and people connect.