Vancouver-based start-up competes against Portland and Seattle companies
BY JESSICA BARRETT, VANCOUVER SUN AUGUST 15, 2013 3:03 PM
A Vancouver-based start-up that is revolutionizing public consultation for the digital age is getting accolades south of the border.
PlaceSpeak, which allows people to weigh in on civic issues such as housing, transportation and development — online and through its mobile apps — is a finalist in the Disruptathon Cascadia contest at the MoDev Tablet conference starting Friday in Seattle.
The app goes head to head with two others from Vancouver — Rentmoola and East Side Games — as well as a trio of finalists from each Portland and Seattle.
Disruptathon is a virtual company designed to identify the most innovative technology that stands to disrupt the traditional marketplace and reinvent the status quo. Competitions are held throughout the world with finalists determined by online votes and winners selected by a panel of judges using — what else — the Disruptathon mobile app.
The winner of the Cascadia edition will receive $10,000 to attend the MoDev East conference this December in Washington D.C., a seat on the CTIA Mobile Innovation Council and an investment meeting with the Madrona Venture Group of Seattle.
PlaceSpeak co-founder Colleen Hardwick said being selected for the contest means PlaceSpeak is getting noticed in the U.S., which can only mean growth is ahead for the start-up.
“I’m excited by that because it means we’re on the radar,” she said, noting she found out her company had made the cut after seeing PlaceSpeak pop up in a Google alert. Winning would provide an introduction to Silicon Valley and the much larger U.S. market.
“It puts us on the stage in a much higher level.”
Born from a desire to combat increasing cynicism around public engagement, PlaceSpeak allows users to comment on civic issues in their area while confidentially verifying their name and address. Unlike anonymous online commenting, Hardwick said the app produces hard data that can be used in public planning.
PlaceSpeak was used to conduct Metro Vancouver’s Urban Futures survey in 2012 and has since gone on to provide consultation for projects in communities throughout B.C., Alberta, Ontario and Florida.