Call him an idealist, if you wish. Cristian F. Robiou believes in good government, and he’s building a Miami tech venture that helps government agencies streamline services to end-users, making it faster and easier to apply for building permits and business licenses, for example.
A Harvard Law School graduate, Robiou started Clarity Value from his studio apartment in 2017. He was fed up with hearing complaints that government was neither efficient nor user-friendly. He hoped his venture could boost trust in government by making agencies more responsive to their community.
Now, Clarity Value counts the cities of North Miami, Atlanta and Aurora in Illinois, plus Florida’s Department of Health and the state of Georgia among its clients. The company has raised $2.5 million from investors including Lightspeed Venture Partners, Newtype Ventures and Gaingels, Robiou says.
“It’s been five years of the most difficult work I’ve ever done in my life and the most rewarding as well,” says the 33-year-old founder. He’s learned it takes lots of time and patience to understand government processes to build effective software. Plus, agencies need time to vet tech vendors too.
North Miami can attest to Clarity Value’s effectiveness. The city of some 60,00 residents hired Robiou and his team in 2021 to modernize its system for building permits. Back then, applicants had to come into an agency office and hand in documents to request a building permit. Now, applicants can file online and track the progress of their submission remotely too. City Manager Theresa Therilus appreciates that “there’s a real savings in time, expenses and stress for our residents and businesses.”
The city heard about Clarity Value through a referral, and Therilus was intrigued the founder was a fellow Harvard Law alum. She calls Robiou and his team “very, very responsive … I think they’re the wave of the future. They’ve been able to bring us a nimble solution at way less cost in a customer-friendly way.” Indeed, North Miami has hired Clarity Value for additional tech projects, says Therilus.
Robiou’s interest in government stems partly from a childhood in many locales. After his parents divorced, he attended five high schools in the United States and Dominican Republic, gaining a comparative viewpoint and realizing some governments work better than others. He then studied political science and government at the University of Miami for his bachelor’s, and after Harvard, returned to Miami to build a career, feeling at home in an area welcoming to travelers and transplants.
Before launching Clarity Value, Robiou worked at a law firm and Startupbootcamp and then, co-founded Caribe Exotic, a fruit juice and coffee export venture in Dominican Republic. Yet his passion for good government motivates him: “In the same way Turbotax can help you with tax filing, we at Clarity Value can do that for every other government service. Because why should that not be the case?,” he asks.
Today, Clarity Value works with a team of six, some at downtown Miami’s co-work space Building.co. Robiou expects the staff to reach 15 next year, including more in sales. The venture offers Software-as-a-Service, with yearly subscriptions per agency often in the “mid-five-figures to low six-figures,” he says.
Still, Robiou knows govtech ventures face specific challenges. Some startups have failed, unwilling to put in the years needed to learn agency processes and build relations with officials: “Government is just not going to move as fast as the private sector,” he says.
Robiou keeps the long view, seeing market potential in agency budgets for tech often in the millions of dollars per year. And he’s committed to better government: “We’re helping the end-user obtain services without having to call in or go into an agency office,” says Robiou. “And we’re helping government, so staff can be trained and there’s transparency inside their departments.”
Cristian Robiou describes his road to GovTech as a bit of a “process of elimination.”
Clarity Value, a technology company that modernizes government workflows and constituent services, announced that it has raised $2.5 million in seed funding from a group of strategic investors.