First Civic Social Network 1Damola Ogundipe, founder of newly created company Civic Eagle has developed a mobile application to help increase civic participation in the United States. A graduate of the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, Ogundipe oversees all 4 of Civic Eagle’s products and services to include mobile, data analytics, algorithm cloud distribution, and education.

Civic Eagle is best described as a tech startup with the mission to reduce political apathy and increase public participation in politics. The company was recently was selected as a sponsored civic startup at the 2014 Code for America Summit. The mobile application allows users to do the following: (1) look up information about legislation in Congress, (2) read news stories, (3) interact with elected officials and (4) engage with other users.

Ogundipe states, “the current state of political engagement in the United States is embarrassingly low. Barely 50 percent of the country’s population vote in federal elections, less than 40 percent at the state level, and about 20 percent vote at the local level. Our mobile application is a solution to this problem. We want to help increase civic participation in the U.S. using technology and an engaging social community.” 

How did you come up with the name of this mobile app?
It’s simple, the Eagle represents freedom and serves as the national emblem of the United States. It was only natural we named our app “Civic Eagle.”

What inspired you to develop this?
The current state of political engagement in the United States is a concern. Barely 50 percent of the country’s population vote in federal elections, less than 40 percent vote at the state level, and about 20 percent participate at the local level. These numbers reveal that there is a problem and this app aims to solve this issue.

Who is your target market?
Anyone who wants to see a change in the political process and is interested in having better access to resources that will enable them to interact and be engaged. Our ideal consumer uses a smartphone and enjoys connecting to ideas and people through social media. We also have products and services available for political candidates, elected officials, and community organizations to assist them in understanding their constituents.

How have you financed the idea?
Bootstrapping, we bootstrapped this project for almost 2 years and have worked diligently to make our vision a market viable product. We intend to move forward by raising capital from investors.

What is your competitive edge?
We offer a holistic and inclusive solution to increasing civic engagement.

What is the long-term plan for this business?
Currently our app is accessible on mobile devices. The goal is to connect users to current issues and ongoing conversations on policies and in politics. We want to get our users connected to lawmakers and we hope to expand the use of the app globally, especially in countries where public participation and political accountability are particularly low.

By next year, we plan to launch the ‘Eagle Eye’ Initiative, which will offer data analytics and information technology services to elected officials, aspiring candidates, and community organizations allowing them better access to their constituents.

Another initiative is the ‘Eagle’s Nest’ – an academic curriculum and program focused on teaching grade school and university students about civic engagement; and finally the ‘My Eagle’ initiative – a feature that will personalize civic information for engaged users.

What challenges do you face?
Tackling a problem like civic engagement is especially difficult given that many people are generally apathetic and disinterested in political matters. We find that people are often dissatisfied and therefore discouraged to participate in politics – trying to change this sentiment is a challenge. However, we are confident that if political issues are presented to people in a different way, users will be more inclined to participate, will remain engaged, and this we believe, will lead to changes in various communities.

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What key things have you learned since starting your business idea?
1. Find a strong team: Surround yourself with a team of people who believe in you/your vision. You want people on your team who are critical thinkers, who are not afraid to be honest with you, and who challenge each other to think big.

2. Network: It is important to follow-up with the people you meet. You never know how one connection may benefit you now or in the long run.

3. Keep moving: Do not get discouraged. On some days, you will get discouraged. You will feel defeated. Wake up the next day, brush it off, and keep moving.

4. Have a plan: while it is important to have a plan, being flexible is as equally important.

5. Be Humble.

What advice do you have for youths looking to start an idea but say ‘there is no money’?
Learn to use what you have. If that means you start with a simple business plan then do that. With a strong business plan, people will gravitate towards you and some will practically throw money at you because they believe in your idea. You can also utilize social media and blogging to your advantage by marketing your idea/product/service and building buzz all over the world – at little to no cost.

How do you think African youths can continue to support each other?
More young Africans should learn to support other small businesses/startups. Buy locally; use word of mouth and social media marketing; host and attend networking events; and build meaningful connections.

How many jobs have you created so far?
We currently have an executive team of 6 and we also have an intern.

How has technology enhanced your business idea?
Technology drives our mission of connecting people to politics, policies, and government. Our company is a startup using technology-based and data-driven solutions to innovate the civic process.

How can we support and improve innovation in Africa?
You cannot make real and effective changes unless you specifically address the needs of the people and market that you are serving. It is incredibly important to pay attention to your particular market and not just simply apply something that may work in America or the UK, but create solutions particular to communities in Africa.

The EAGLE mobile app is available for download on smartphones.

Use the hashtag #beheard and #EAGLEapp!
For more information on Civic Eagle, please reach:
Lesley Adeyemi Adewunmi
Director of Product Development
Email: Lesley {at} civiceagle.com
Website: www.civiceagle.com
Twitter: @Civic_Eagle
Instagram: Civic_Eagle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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