Lasting Impact of the Code for America Fellowship with Tiffany Chu, Co-founder of Remix
At Code for America, we’re focused on working with government to solve some of the toughest problems our country faces today. Fellows are passionate, creative, and entrepreneurial technologists. More and more, fellows are making the decision to use their skills for public good after the program. Whether they continue to work at Code for America, move into local government, or start their own company, the skills and experience they gained play a significant role in shaping their future.
This week, we caught up with Tiffany Chu, a 2014 Fellow with the City of Charlotte. You can read about the groundbreaking work Tiffany is doing as the Co-founder and Chief Design Officer at Remix, a company she started after the 2014 Fellowship. I chatted with Tiffany about the impact of the fellowship program.
B: Why was it important to you to work on some of the toughest challenges our country faces?
T: It’s pretty simple — civic problems are important. They’re important and hard because the public sector must serve everyone, not just a niche, privileged audience that many startups have the luxury of doing. Government services need to meet people where they are — there really is no alternative. And they can be better.
B: Looking back at your year as a fellow, what were your biggest takeaways?
T: Two things jump out right away. First, the importance of starting with a problem, not with a solution. One of the most important things fellows share with government partners is to start with the user. By better understanding the needs of the community they serve, they can build better, more effective technology that helps people get access to the services they need to function on the most basic level.
Second, your team and the people you surround yourself with is so important. During the fellowship, I met people who cared about the same values as I did. These are some of people who I get to work with every single day at Remix.
B: How did the fellowship alter the course of your career?
T: I’ve always been in search for one focused area to make a strong impact, and saw Code For America as an opportunity to dive in deeper with the public sector. The fellowship gave me the chance to jump into the community of civic technology, and it’s a world that I love working in and one that keeps me motivated every day.
During my fellowship, I started a side project with a few other fellows. Today, I’m building a company and helping cities plan better transit at Remix. This is where those takeaways really come into play. I get to work with an incredible team of talented and driven people who share a lot of my same values.
B: What are skills you learned during the fellowship that you still use today?
T: I’ve taken things I Learned from the fellowship — like fast and iterative development processes, how to collaborate with government stakeholders, user centered design — and use them to to change the way governments plan transit in their communities. The things that we value at Remix are a natural extension of Code for America’s work. A few that stand out are:
- Start small, make sure what we build is always solving a problem.
- Listen to users.
- Value empathy.
- Aim for as much transparency as possible.
- Measure impact.
Join the ranks of Tiffany and so many others like her to make an impact in government. Code for America is recruiting fellows for projects beginning in Fall 2016 and February 2017 now through July 15th. Apply today >