(1776) — The team at Angry Citizen, Russia’s Smart City Challenge Cup winner, aims to bring citizens back their voice and let you complain about almost anything. It starts with the government, and makes it easier for agencies to harness citizen complaints and respond to them.
The company’s portal receives 500 messages a day, and has solved 2,000 problems in 2013 since its August launch.
“The instrument can make the interaction between citizen and government as simple as possible and minimize the distance between them,” said Anna Nekrasova, business development director. A number of citizens complain about their governments, and with layers of bureaucracy, it can feel like they’re never heard.
The idea started almost a year and a half ago when Angry Citizen founder Dmitry Kokh had trouble voicing complaints about the dangerous construction near the park where his children played.
He realized: There are people who face these types of problems every day from spoiled foods in super markets, bad roads and bad medical services, with no good place to complain and nowhere to find real, immediate results.
“It really helps people and has a strong social mission,” said Nekrasova, who joined the team two weeks ago. That mission is “developing the single place for people to complain about everything.”
Impressive partnerships made this mission possible. Pairing with Microsoft helped the company employ a customer relationship management system that’s government friendly, and Runa Capital helped invest in the company’s growth to 20 staff members and the development of two platforms: a platform for agencies to use, and a consumer facing portal, angrycitizen.ru, to gather public data and complaints.
The government portal is named “Happy Citizen” and is how the company monetizes. The consumer-facing Angry Citizen portal is free to use.
“A lot of countries are moving toward online democracy and in Russia this is a very important trend,” Nekrasova said. “Because people in Russia want to improve all aspects of their social life and they are happy to use the tools in order to make their life better.”
But this task does not come without hurdles.
“Government employees are not always crazy to use technology solutions,” she said. Getting governments to integrate any new system can be difficult. And as employees tend to be a bit older, getting them comfortable with new technologies can also be challenging.
The team reported that they were able to solve this problem by making the product simple to use and ensuring it’s not an additional hurdle for the organizations, but creates efficiency by streamlining citizen complaints. The Ministry of Labor, the Ministry of Education and the Administration of Moscow Region now use Happy Citizen.
Still, they said it would take time to implement across many markets. But it may not be that much time.
They are looking to expand quickly to the major territory of Russia in 2014 and launch the platform for businesses and corporations. In 2015, the team aims to expand globally, starting with countries in the Commonwealth of Independent States and some Asian countries.
“It’s the right moment for us to show that we are ready for global expansion,” Nekrasova said.