Business Plan Challenge

Trying to track local governments’ new laws and regulations? This startup can help

Matt Haber, left, 34, and Jorge Damian de la Paz, 31, are co-founder of the app Civic Pro, a finalist in the Business Plan Challenge Competition. The pair were photographed in front of Miami City Hall in Coconut Grove, Florida on Wednesday, April 24, 2019.
Matt Haber, left, 34, and Jorge Damian de la Paz, 31, are co-founder of the app Civic Pro, a finalist in the Business Plan Challenge Competition. The pair were photographed in front of Miami City Hall in Coconut Grove, Florida on Wednesday, April 24, 2019. cjuste@miamiherald.com

It’s a struggle for any lawyer, researcher, student or citizen of any kind: trying to keep up with the latest laws and regulations a city or county government has approved.

It’s especially difficult if you live in the archipelago of municipalities that make up South Florida.

For Matt Haber, a former attorney for the City of Miami, the pain pushed him to quit his job as a lawyer and develop a solution. After years of seeing frustrated stakeholders miss out on key updates to local legislation, he believed he could help.

“It just seemed like there’s got to be a better way of doing this,” he said.

With an undisclosed sum in startup funds from the Knight Foundation and “social change” accelerator Radical Partners, Haber and co-founder Jorge Damian de la Paz, program manager for affordable housing at the University of Miami’s Office of Civic Engagement, put together CivicPro, a tracking platform for local legislation. The software for sweeping the various forms of documents each government produces is being built by contract coders in California and Chicago.

“The platform is going to help legal professionals and community groups to push their agendas at city hall,” de la Paz said.

Judges also believed it showed promise, calling it out for Special Mention in the real estate vertical in the 2019 Miami Herald Startup Pitch Competition. Tigre Wenrich, CEO of LAB Ventures, said Haber’s presentation was among the strongest, and believes the product can be fine-tuned to meet the needs of legal professionals who must work with local governments on a daily basis.

The company has already signed up one law firm, LSN Partners representing real estate developers. Haber said the prospect of saving thousands of hours, and dollars, a year on tracking legislation made the product immediately appealing. A union and two nonprofits have also signed on.

The next step: use initial customers to perfect the product. A seed round for $350,000 is also slated, although there is no set timetable.

“The idea is ultimately to take information that is dispersed and complicated and turn it into something actionable,” Haber said.

Related stories from Miami Herald

  Comments