GovTech has an enormous potential. It is a market worth more than $400 billion that is gaining steam, but that remains notoriously difficult to enter and scale.
According to Jeff Goens, CEO of ClimateView—that has succeeded in enrolling from 25 to +100 cities on the platform in less than a year— “GovTech is a notoriously tricky software category, and has sometimes been perceived as slow and risk averse. However, those difficulties can be translated into super strengths when approached correctly.”
We explore the ins and outs of scaling GovTech with Jeff Goens.
What has been your approach to building ClimateView?
Jeff Goens: As a product-led SaaS company targeting the public sector, ClimateView is dedicated to helping cities transition their entire economies to lower-carbon alternatives. Because cities are complex organisms, this requires us to think holistically about the interdependent systems at play to accomplish impact-measurable, economically-realistic, and socially-just transitions.
Cities are the epicenter of various physical, financial, and political activities. They are the most proximate layer of government to the majority of the world’s people and responsible for over 70% of the world’s emissions. And they function as complex ecosystems and economies in their own right. As we’ve built the ClimateOS platform, we’ve had to balance the interdependencies of these carbon-releasing activities, financial impacts, and social realities. We believe that unless a digital solution is able to model and predict what this triad of considerations will require — fulfilling everyday needs, being inclusive, and providing economic certainty — you cannot have a realistic, just, and sustainable transition. Therefore, we have not just built our platform around these realities, but we are also structuring our hiring initiatives and our company itself to be able to respond to these realities faced by our cities worldwide.
What do you think has made the real difference and has allowed you to pierce into this difficult world?
JG: For us, the key was to leverage the symmetry of governmental institutions across the world. Cities everywhere encounter very similar challenges, but with some nuances. We therefore created a solution that first leverages those contour similarities—but then accommodates their nuances—to make the ClimateOS platform inherently scalable.
But at ClimateView, the story doesn’t stop with helping communities make better data-driven decisions in a vacuum. Instead, we approach the problem from the vantage point of “collaborative decision intelligence”. The more cities we bring aboard the platform, the better our data (and therefore our assumptions) become. As a result, the power of our solution is greatly propelled by those communities which are particularly eager to share their solutions and best practices with their colleagues—whether nearby or on the other side of the planet—and we’re pleased to provide the scalable forum for this critical exchange of knowledge.
Notwithstanding our successes, we acknowledge that the GovTech sector continues to present certain challenges. But at ClimateView, being in the midst of this global transition presents not only an opportunity for the climate, but also for the very ways in which software is procured in the public sector. The demand for “climate software” is rapidly increasing—not just due to the broad, visible, and existential threat of climate change—but more precisely because the funds necessary to accomplish the transitions have often been locked in national and supranational institutions. Those rational market actors wish to ensure that the highest-impact local initiatives are the first ones funded. And now that we’re beginning to see those funds unlocked and flowing to the municipalities, the need for data-driven guidance of those investments has never been more pressing.
What is different from a year ago, beyond just the number of cities using the platform?
JG: We have always been able to attract top talent in Sweden because we have a desirable brand and a solid interpersonal network here. Fortunately, we’re now able to replicate that on a global scale and are able to attract top talent from across Europe and more globally. As a result, the fabric of our company is even more diverse, worldly, and inclusive than ever before.
What type of talent do you need to build this kind of GovTech?
JG: The climate transition is insanely cross-functional. Therefore, it’s essential that our talent at ClimateView reflect this reality. We are trying to solve ways-of-working problems that our customers have been facing for a very long time. This requires more than just subject matter expertise in fields ranging from government and climate policy to fintech and deeptech; it also requires an inherent curiosity across these disciplines to drive true innovation within this complex and dynamic space. Finding that cross-disciplinary intellectual curiosity is almost certain to remain a challenge going forward.
What’s next for ClimateView?
JG: Continuing our massive hiring effort will be key as we continue to double down our key market strategy and expand further throughout Europe and the UK, North America, and beyond in the coming months.
But unlike many other enterprises in this space, the public sector has been our bread and butter. We are relevant because we supply cities with a much-needed platform that brings true operational value to the people actually planning and overseeing the transitions. We believe that the 100+ cities using our platform today don’t just prove that demand exists—it proves that our approach works. And with that, we have an infinitely scalable foundation for our second phase: taking those tightened city climate action plans and helping to ensure they actually become funded. A plan that is not socially inclusive and which remains unfunded is not a plan. This is why at ClimateView, we are personally and professionally invested in ensuring that climate plans aren’t simply intelligent, but that they’re actionable.
I’m pleased to reveal not only that we’re headed in this direction in 2022, but also that this next phase is already underway. And I couldn’t be more delighted than to work on this challenge with my curious, driven, and dedicated colleagues who focus their efforts on this mission together with our cities every day.