Miami-Based Clarity Value Helps Government Agencies Modernize Online Services
‘In the same way that Turbotax can help you with the tax return, at Clarity Value we can do it for all other government services. Because why wouldn’t it be?
By Doreen Hemlock
Call him an idealist, if you like. Cristian F. Robiou believes in good government and is building a technology company in Miami that helps government agencies streamline services to end users, making it faster and easier to apply for building permits and business licenses, for example. example.
A graduate of Harvard Law School, Robiou launched Clarity Value from his studio in 2017. He was tired of hearing complaints that the government was neither efficient nor user-friendly. He hoped his company could build trust in government by making agencies more responsive to their community.
Today, Clarity Value’s clients include the cities of North Miami, Atlanta and Aurora in Illinois, as well as the Florida Department of Health and the State of Georgia. The company has raised $2.5 million from investors including Lightspeed Venture Partners, Newtype Ventures and Gaingels, Robiou said.
“It’s been five years of the hardest work I’ve ever done in my life and also the most rewarding,” says the 33-year-old founder. He learned that it takes a lot of time and patience to understand government processes in order to create effective software. Additionally, agencies also need time to vet technology vendors.
North Miami Success Story: Applying for a Building Permit Online
North Miami can attest to the effectiveness of Clarity Value. The city of some 60,000 people hired Robiou and his team in 2021 to modernize its building permit system. At the time, applicants had to go to an agency office and hand over documents to apply for a building permit. From now on, candidates can file online and follow the progress of their submission remotely as well. City Manager Theresa Therilus appreciates that “there is a real saving in time, expense and stress for our residents and businesses.”
The town heard about Clarity Value through a referral, and Therilus was intrigued that the founder was another Harvard Law alum. She qualifies Robiou and his team as “very, very reactive… I think they are the wave of the future. They were able to provide us with an agile solution at a much lower cost and in a customer friendly way. Indeed, North Miami has hired Clarity Value for additional technology projects, Therilus explains.
Robiou’s interest in government stems in part from growing up in many places. After his parents divorced, he attended five high schools in the United States and the Dominican Republic, gaining a comparative perspective and realizing that some governments work better than others. He then studied political science and government at the University of Miami for his bachelor’s degree, and after Harvard returned to Miami to build a career, feeling at home in an area welcoming to travelers and transplants.
Prior to launching Clarity Value, Robiou worked at a law firm and Startupbootcamp, then co-founded Caribe Exotic, a fruit juice and coffee export business in the Dominican Republic. Yet his passion for good government motivates him: “In the same way that Turbotax can help you with the tax return, at Clarity Value we can do it for all other government services. Because why shouldn’t it be? “, he asks.
Today, Clarity Value works with a team of six people, including some in downtown Miami’s co-working space, Building.co. Robiou expects the staff to reach 15 next year, with more in sales. The company offers software as a service, with annual subscriptions per agency often ranging between “mid five figures to low six figures,” he says.
Challenges Facing Govtech: Funding, Deadlines
Still, Robiou knows that govtech companies face specific challenges. Some startups have failed, unwilling to spend the years needed to learn agency processes and build relationships with officials: “Government just won’t move as fast as the private sector,” says -he.
Robiou keeps a long-term view, seeing market potential in agency budgets for technology often running into the millions of dollars a year. And he’s committed to improving government: “We help the end user get services without having to call or go to an agency office,” says Robiou. “And we’re helping the government, so that staff can be trained and there’s transparency within their departments.”