The year that made me a mother of three children, a dog, and a startup
or: inCitu, 2020 in review
2020 was a transformative year — guess most people worldwide can say that. For inCitu it was, for sure, and I thought that with this year coming to its end, it is a good time to reflect and share what we’ve been doing.
A new baby
Working on inCitu along 2019 made us realize that we’re onto something with this AR-powered City Planning tool. When baby Rona (born BEFORE a virus carrying her name had kidnapped the world) was born, I happily put things on hold for a bit, knowing that I’ll find the best path to make the dream of inCitu a reality.
Though COVID19 quickly converted my supposed-to-be 1:1 maternity leave to a 116-days-lockdown with three children, and times were sure intense, I could sense as the weeks went through a shift in the discourse regarding cities, and innovation for/with/in cities. Questions like what makes a city resilient? How come Brooklyn stayed as vital as possible during the deadly lockdown weeks while SoHo, Broadway, and Wallstreet became ghost-towns? all became tangible.
In my daily walks with my kids in our neighborhood, I felt more and more how communities were the secret sauce for cities to thrive, survive, and innovatively fight in times of crisis. And yet, our cities are rarely taking sufficient care of the exact residents that make them so strong - their families, their parents and children, their essential workers, and let alone the underserved and most in-need ones.
I felt the urge to come back and grow inCitu into what it meant to be — a platform that empowers residents in designing their future neighborhoods and creates a stage for inclusive, respectful, and responsive planning processes.
I was optimistic; I sensed that COVID made once-hard-to-imagine ideas a reality, and quickly. A whole new world of opportunities to make real changes suddenly emerged and were achievable more than they ever were, in the private and public sectors altogether. This was the perfect timing to go back to business :)
This July, I was fortunate to become a Schmidt Futures’ Entrepreneur-In-Residence, a program under which I’ll be developing inCitu for two years with the best resources and guidance. A huge shoutout to Alex Washburn, the principal of DRAW Brooklyn and my co-founder of inCitu, who supported this spin-out and made the transition as smooth as possible. Alex keeps advising to inCitu and we work with and within the Red Hook, Brooklyn community.
Joining the EIR program was THE win of the year for inCitu, the energy-boost it needed to get all of our previous 2019 work organized and actionable. And we did so much since:
inCitu 2020 in review (+wins to celebrate)
The big question since starting working on inCitu was Who is our client? Or: Who pays for this solution — Developers or Cities? 40+ user interviews helped me unlock some hidden motivations of different city-development stakeholders. I was happy to find both amongst the public and private sectors a true hunger to form better, more inclusive planning processes. We test these days the two business models: the first that sells to developers and the second which sells to cities (stay tuned).
Expected challenges are generation gaps and general NIMBY’sm, but on the other hand, there are more and more enthusiastic young people, including young parents, who seek to have more say in their neighborhoods to confront the former. Cities and the overall political discourse of 2020 have also shifted that way — inequalities in where, who, and how COVID had hit, George Floyd and the US Elections all made policymakers almost obligated to address these issues.
Rebranding and revising messaging
We’ve revised all of our communications and marketing materials, including designing a new logo. that’s a good place to put our “hero statement”:
inCitu democratizes and speeds-up urban development by incentivizing community participation through immersive experiences. Our AR-powered platform layers planning proposals on top of the built environment, including visualizing their potential impact on their surrounding while effectively crowdsourcing residents’ feedback.
Building our Pipeline
From progressive developers, through emerging cities and consulting groups and to the most challenging communities in the US, we have a pipeline of super-exciting candidates to test inCitu in small- and large-scale pilots.
A PILOT allows residents to view a proposed development/change to their neighborhood in AR, to explore its impact on their surroundings, to give feedback on that proposal, and to share and raise awareness regarding it. Planners and developers get a deep knowledge about the public sentiment on their project, and the public needs and concerns overall.
If you happen to be (or know) an awesome developer or city official that could become our partner, please contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org
inCitu iOS app (V1)
This was all still an idea only 6-months ago, and although we are still troubleshooting, seeing our vision up and live is no less than a dream come true. We are expected to officially launch within days and to start piloting beginning of the year!
Last baby of the year: inCitu.ar Inc
This December, I’ve officially incorporated our legal entity, which makes things even more real and more exciting. Trained in having babies in pairs, this inCitu new-born was a sweet closure to year 2020 (and don’t ask me which birth was harder)
What to expect in 2021
OK, 2020 taught us to put expectations aside… and still — below is what we plan for 2021:
- Conducting two first pilots in Q1 using our V1 build and incorporating the feedback and our learnings into V2 design and building.
- Starting a large-scale pilot beginning Q2 (multiple developments, community or city-wide) using V2 of our app. Improving the app as we iterate through it
- Have first subscribers by beginning of Q3
- Team building along Q3+Q4
2021 is going to be an exciting year! Hoping it will be a healthy, refreshing, fulfilling one. Contact us at hello@inCitu.us if you want to learn more.