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ABQ startup partners with Calif. software firm

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Albuquerque-based APPCityLife has built an online platform that allows cities to easily create and deploy customized mobile apps to help citizens more easily access public information and interact with local agencies and programs COURTESY APPCityLife

APPCityLife hopes to rapidly accelerate sales of its mobile app platform for cities through a newly formed partnership with California-based Accela Inc.

Albuquerque-based APPCityLife has built an online platform that allows cities to easily create and deploy customized mobile apps to help citizens more easily access public information and interact with local agencies and programs. It’s a cloud-based platform that the company hosts for clients.

Accela provides more general software for governments to better manage public information and services.

Through the new partnership, Accela will market APPCityLife’s platform, allowing its customers to improve their use of Accela software by creating customized mobile apps for public engagement, said Ken Sawtelle, director of Accela’s Center of Excellence.

“We provide our customers with software platforms to do many things, but they need programmers on their staff to create specific apps for unique, customized interaction with the public,” Sawtelle said. “With APPCityLife, our customers can now do this stuff themselves without in-house programming expertise or paying someone else to do it. The partnership will enable governments to bring their own specific apps to market at much lower cost.”

Given Accela’s global reach, the partnership could put APPCityLife on the fast track to deploy its product nationwide and beyond. Accela has been in business more than 30 years and has about 2,200 customers in the U.S. and elsewhere. That includes government agencies and entities in more than half of the nation’s largest cities.

APPCityLife is still a small, growing startup that launched in 2009. Apart from contracts with private companies and nonprofits, APPCityLife manages its mobile app publishing platform, called CityLife, for departments and agencies in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, and it’s just concluding a new contract with public entities in northern California.

“This partnership allows us to provide solutions in cities without having to hire an entire sales force,” said APPCityLife founder and CEO Lisa Abeyta. “It expands our reach quickly through all the sales channels Accela has in place.”

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Lisa Abeyta, co-founder CEO of APPCityLife

Accela will basically become a re-seller of APPCityLife’s mobile app platform, said company co-founder and Chief Operating Officer Lawrence Abeyta.

“They’ll sell our platform as a service by including us in requests for proposals for cities, and adding us to existing contracts for customers who want customized mobile solutions,” he said. “This greatly expands our national and global reach.”

Both APPCityLife and Accela see a growing market for their products as cities strive to make public information, programs and services more accessible in digital format, and as citizens’ demand for accessing those things through mobile devices grows.

Lawrence Abeyta, APPCityLife co-founder and Chief Operating Officer Lawrence Abeyta

Lawrence Abeyta, APPCityLife co-founder and Chief Operating Officer Lawrence Abeyta

Accela already provides many apps with its software, and many independent app developers offer unique products or create new ones for government clients. In fact, Accela itself has acquired nine civic technology companies over the last two years to expand its offerings.

But APPCityLife’s platform is particularly empowering for governments and the people they serve because it provides local officials the capability to rapidly and inexpensively create their own apps, Sawtelle said.

“It provides an incredibly unique opportunity that allows our platform to become much more flexible for customers,” he said. “As a result, our customers will embrace our platform longer, and we’ll gain more customers because they’ll be able to more customized things with it. I believe it could be a game changer.”

APPCityLife is a homegrown startup that employs seven people at an office suite in Albuquerque’s Northeast Heights. The company has to date raised $1.1 million in individual angel and venture investment.

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