The Rand building on East Houston Street prominently features the Geekdom logo.
The Rand building on East Houston Street is home to the co-working space Geekdom and was once bustling with startups and tech workers. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

Downtown coworking space Geekdom is getting an injection of funds from the City to help the startup incubator’s entrepreneurs develop technological solutions for issues facing San Antonio residents.

San Antonio City Council on Thursday awarded Geekdom $250,000 over two years in economic development funds to kickstart an expanded version of CivTechSA, a partnership between the City and Geekdom in which local techies tackle civic challenges.

“This program is built directly off of the success we have seen from the CivTechSA partnership, and these funds will help us continue our mission of building San Antonio, one startup at a time,” Geekdom CEO Charles Woodin said. “The civic tech-focused arm of our incubator is getting a great jump start through this deepened partnership with the City of San Antonio.”

The funds will be used to support six teams – three per year – over the two-year period of the Civic Tech Division Pilot Program.

Geekdom has already identified a cohort for the first year of the pilot program. Pawtify, a team that came together at San Antonio high-tech career school Codeup, has developed an online notification system aimed at making the pet adoption process more efficient. Solovago’s neighborhood safety app displays crime data in real time. Polis is a mobile app and Bluetooth network aimed at creating a virtual community of people and businesses along the River Walk.

The creation of the pilot program comes after the introduction in 2018 of a 16-week residency program in which local startups such as Reckon Point, a robotics and indoor mapping firm, and Kinetech Cloud, a software company, embedded in City departments for four months to develop technology the City could ultimately choose to purchase.

The work as part of the residency had essentially been pro bono as startups tested their products in City departments with a view toward eventually winning a contract. The infusion of cash is aimed at helping those companies develop their products through mentorship, entrepreneurial resources, operational costs, and other business expenses.

Woodin said the City is working on contracting with recent CivTechSA residents Rise, a housing services platform, and Outreach Grid, a software product aimed at addressing homelessness.

“Not only will this program help us identify solutions aimed at addressing community needs that many of us see every day in our city,” said Mayor Ron Nirenberg on Thursday, “but [it] also [gives us] the chance to continue to support the growth and development of San Antonio’s information technology sector, which is one of our targeted industries.”

JJ Velasquez was a columnist, former editor and reporter at the San Antonio Report.