Sharath Mekala’s two-person tech startup isn’t a textbook government contractor.
Village Defense, spawned through a startup incubator called 1776, develops a free app that lets neighbors send real-time alerts to one another if they notice suspicious activity. A premium version, which costs $125 a month, is designed for homeowners associations.
A Washington area native, Mekala recently uprooted from Atlanta and returned to D.C., in part to market Village Defense to behemoth potential customers: the Defense Department, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the Education Department. He says President Obama’s public safety initiative, which includes a blueprint for improved community policing, creates an opportunity for apps like Village Defense.
“I think the government is trying to keep up with [technology]… earlier on you’d have to push your way in,” Mekala says.
Federal procurement, once largely unapproachable by startups, could be transforming to let small, creative tech companies in.
This story appears in the July-August issue of Government Executive magazine.