Tag Archives: opencounter

Broadband, business and jobs come together in Montery County

by Steve Blum • , , , ,

Kish Rajan, the head of California governor Jerry Brown’s business and economic development office, met with Monterey County officials this afternoon in Gonzales, to talk about broadband and high tech help for attracting new businesses and jobs to the area.

Peter Koht, the CEO of Santa Cruz start-up OpenCounter, gave an update on the rapid adoption by local governments of the e-government platform developed by his company. The OpenCounter concept is that integrating dozens of separate permit procedures for new businesses into a single platform can be a competitive advantage for cities. The simpler it is to start a new business, the more likely it is that new jobs will be created.

I updated the group on progress made by the Central Coast Broadband Consortium (CCBC) in helping to develop broadband infrastructure in the region, which includes Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito counties. My presentation is here. One of the CCBC’s major efforts this year is to develop a set of model policies promoting broadband improvement that local agencies can consider. Koht and Joel Staker, CCBC chair and network administrator for the City of Watsonville, talked about their experience with some of the policies, including mapping broadband assets and taking advantage of opportunities to install conduit whenever street construction work is done.

Rajan seemed impressed by the progress that’s been made, and expressed support for the initiative, particularly the idea of using technology to cut red tape and make it easier to start a business, as OpenCounter does.

The event was organised by the Monterey County Business Council, and sponsored in part by the CCBC. City managers and economic development officers from Gonzales, Salinas, King City, Marina and Monterey, and the County of Monterey, attended.

Santa Cruz culture gives tech start ups a competitive edge

Santa Cruz inspires Tomfoolery.

“The culture of community is Santa Cruz’s greatest export,” said Sol Lipman, one of three local entrepreneurs speaking at an event Thursday evening celebrating the growth and innovation of the local tech scene.

Sol is the founder of Tomfoolery, a start up that’s targeting the corporate sector with mobile apps that grow social networks within companies organically. He pointed out that the top three social networking platforms used for business are actually well known consumer market apps: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, in that order. Their first product, Anchor, is already deployed in about twenty companies.

“Social interactions at work are broken,” he said. “People work at home, people work at places like NextSpace, people work everywhere. But people are unhappy.” The solution is to use social media to infuse corporate culture with the lifestyle values – friendship and fun – that employees often leave at the door.

It’s Sol’s sixth venture, the two most recent – 12seconds.tv and RallyUp – were also started in Santa Cruz, California, working out of the NextSpace coworking community, another successful venture that combines local lifestyle and culture with high technology talent.

Peter Koht and Shane Pearlman joined Sol. Peter is one of the two principals of OpenCounter, an open source portal that helps new businesses navigate the complex and often contradictory permits and approvals process required by local government. He started it when he was working for the City of Santa Cruz, as a Code for America project. The Knight Foundation was so impressed it gave him and his business partner, Joel Mahoney, $500,000 to take it national this summer. In just a couple of months, they’ve signed up several new cities, including Houston, Texas.

Shane has leveraged the Santa Cruz lifestyle into Modern Tribe, a digital design and development agency started with a desire to work where he wants to live, not live where he has to work. The firm now has about 35 freelancers and employees, distributed around the world, linked by technology and shared values and qualities that Shane boils down to happy, helpful, curious, accountable and good.

The forum was organised by the Santa Cruz New Tech Meetup and sponsored by Santa Cruz Tech Beat, Cruzio, NextSpace and the City of Santa Cruz. The next one is coming up on 6 November 2013, at the Cruzio & Ecology Action Green Building in downtown Santa Cruz.