Contest Shines Spotlight on Innovative Technologies that Deliver Practical Solutions to Cities

Boston, MA – The United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) has named OpenCounter as the winner of the Mayor’s Matchup: Civic Tech Pitch Competition where emerging companies pitched their ideas to address challenges facing cities in a “Shark Tank”-style forum. The competition was part of USCM’s 86th Annual Meeting, which is being held in Boston through Monday, June 11.

USCM President and Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin hosted the competition and Mayors Chris Cabaldon (West Sacramento), Victoria Woodards (Tacoma), David Holt (Oklahoma City) and Francis Suarez (Miami) served as judges.  OpenCounter was one of five companies competing for prize money totaling $18,000.  Nesterly, an intergenerational homesharing service that connects households with spare space to younger people seeking a place to stay, came in second place.

OpenCounter builds modern permitting and licensing software for local governments to help streamline service delivery to residents. The portals guide applicants through complex permitting workflows so applicants can understand the full scope of projects before they get started.

“The U.S. Conference of Mayors is bringing the cutting edge of technology to City Hall,” said Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt. “Having the opportunity to judge these forward-thinking initiatives was inspiring, because it’s exciting to see how modern ideas can help us solve urban problems both old and new.”

“I found it incredibly inspiring to hear the participants’ creative ideas that would benefit our communities. Innovation has always driven our economy forward,” said Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards. “I’m excited to see a new technology emerge that will make it easier than ever for entrepreneurs to turn their ideas into action. Congratulations, OpenCounter!”

Other competitors were:

  • Casper Security – Casper Security improves neighborhood safety by monitoring abandoned properties and alerting neighbors and cities when danger is imminent at a fraction of the cost of demolition.
  • The Atlas – The Atlas is the online community of public officials and innovators to replicate what is working in other communities.
  • ClearRoad – ClearRoad is a system that allows for digital per-mile fee collection, a more efficient, fair way to charge for roads.

“We’re thrilled to be the winner of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Civic Tech Pitch! Permitting and licensing is a core function of local governments, but can be a source of frustration for residents. By streamlining the process, OpenCounter helps applicants navigate complex regulations, while helping cities accelerate residential construction and new business starts,” said Joel Mahoney, Founder and CEO of OpenCounter.

“We were honored to have been selected by hundreds of mayors as a winning team in the 86th US Conference of Mayors Civic Tech Pitch competition,” said Noelle Marcus, Co-Founder of Nesterly.  “Thanks to Civic I/O we are now on a path to work with more cities to bring this innovative, scalable solution to the millions of older adults who, with our platform, will be able to safely and legally benefit from the extra space in their home. We know that together with mayors we will help ensure that housing affordability and security is not just for the privileged, but for everyone.”


From June 8 through June 11, more than 250 of the nation’s mayors met in Boston for USCM’s 86th Annual Meeting.  Under the leadership of USCM President Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin and host Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, mayors discussed a wide variety of priorities that contribute to the overall health of America’s cities and considered and adopted the policy resolutions that guide the advocacy agenda of the organization.