Gary McTall has always had a passion for solving problems for communities — in his former professional life he served as a consultant for local governments in Alaska, Abu Dhabi, and others around the world.
That experience led him to enter the government technology industry in 2015 with cloud-based management solution GovSense — a market that, according to McTall, remains mostly untapped.
“We wanted to give community leaders and the citizens they serve the tools for a 360-degree view of their community,” says McTall. GovSense is currently used in cities across the country, from Ocala, Florida to Evanston, Illinois.
“We believe that the days of walking into city hall and having to go to three, five different departments to get one answer should be gone. We want to break down those barriers with our unified platform for government,” McTall says.
Now with a new client — their own hometown and the headquarters of over 600 technology companies, Alpharetta — McTall and his co-founder Paul Cammisa are helping the city become just as high-tech as its occupants. GovSense’s cloud-based platform connects departments across a city to help them manage opportunities and projects more efficiently.
McTall shares that as more business operations move into Alpharetta, the city needed to find a more efficient process to communicate with site selectors, project managers, and city employees.
“They need to make sure they offer modern solutions to the incoming technology companies. With a population of 60,000 people, every business day the city may cater to 100,000 visitors with city services and restaurants,” says McTall. “That’s one of the challenges they needed to solve.”
“We are here to solve the micro issues in the community space, but also the macro issues. In the city of Alpharetta, we may start with the economic development solution, but then we want to penetrate and radiate to show value across the community,” says McTall.
The platform allows the city to show companies interested in relocating or moving all the available properties and how to obtain more information. On the backend, the city can manage these projects, keep track of the work breakdown structure, and see the demands of site selectors all in one place. Tasks can be assigned through the platform, including interdepartmental communication, which can be critical when time is a factor.
Alpharetta was able to integrate onto the platform within two weeks, according to McTall, thanks to the city’s forward thinking team. The implementation of the software will also allow the city to survey its current company roster with quick two-question surveys and get feedback.
While the startup has encountered certain challenges with adoption, they’re targeting the next generation of leaders by helping them focus on how technology is evolving.
“We try to encourage next-generation leaders to think about risk,” says McTall. “There are so many aspects of risk and for us, when we sell our SaaS cloud solution model, it comes with a low investment and risk for communities to move to the cloud and remain secure. Other competitors offer on-premise, traditional [products] with big investments upfront.”
The products operates on a SaaS revenue model with a user-based pricing structure and a 3-5 year term. “We remain flexible since communities have different rules around how they can allocate funds or they can’t commit to a contract for more than one year,” says McTall. “The goal is for us to change software deployments in communities who often speak in terms of years and decades to implement, to weeks and months.”
While the startup can serves all municipalities, their main demographic is those between 20,000 to 150,000 in population. “That’s about 64,000 communities in the United States alone,” says McTall. “When you’re talking about your total investment market there’s so much opportunity in that space and it remains underserved. Our platform, instead of serving silos, can help the city as a whole and it becomes more affordable.”
McTall shares that while they’re willing to entertain the idea of funding, though right now they’re remaining bootstrapped to allow their government customers to know who is running the platform and build trust with the team.
“If you don’t know how owns the solution, how can you guarantee that tomorrow that the ownership isn’t going to change?” asks McTall. “This is not corporate risk; it’s the government of tens of thousands of people.”
Next up, GovSense is diving into rental management as another area they can help communities solve to ensure the safety of tourists in the airbnb era. They’ve recently started filling this need in the community of Evanston, IL.
Also on the product side, the team is examining blockchain use cases in the public sector to promote transparency. With a few signups already, the beta for this feature will kick off later this year.