Nick Bowden, the former CEO of Kansas City tech firm mySidewalk, recently resigned from the firm he co-founded.
Effective immediately, the company’s former COO, Stephen Hardy, will serve as CEO, Hardy told Startland News. Bowden will remain with the company as an advisor and will serve as a board member.
“The company has my full support in this new direction,” Bowden said in a statement. “I am looking forward to continuing to serve mySidewalk through my role as board member.”
The former director of planning at Kansas City-based BNIM and a native of Salina, Kan., Hardy has been with mySidewalk for about four years. Also a graduate of Harvard University, Hardy said he’s excited by the opportunity.
“The work that we do here is really important,” Hardy said. “I’m honored to be able to help continue the progress that we’ve made.”
Formerly known as MindMixer, mySidewalk and its 50 employees at the time moved from Omaha to Kansas City in 2014 with ambitious goals for growth. MySidewalk planned to hire about 85 people to build out its software that works with cities to engage citizens, helping them share ideas and stay informed of new initiatives.
The company, however, now employs 35 people and recently moved its Kansas City headquarters from 1627 Main St. to 304 W. 8th St. in downtown Kansas City.
Hardy said that the firm experienced a round of layoffs about one year ago, but in the following months has successfully refocused its efforts on its new data analytics product.
“We cut our teeth on citizen engagement software and our focus for the last year and a half has been building a qualitative analytics engine for cities to augment that quantitative citizen feedback,” Hardy said. “That’s been our primary objective and it’s meant some different things for staffing and the way we’re doing this. … I think we’re in a really good spot now.”
Hardy said that in October, mySidewalk partnered with the White House’s Opportunity Project, an initiative that will use open data in efforts to expand opportunity for all. The project was established to put data tools in the hands of civic leaders across the country to make it easier for leaders to navigate information on critical resources such as access to jobs, housing, transportation and schools.
The company has now served more than 2,000 organizations over the past six years to foster better relationships between community groups and their constituents. Hardy said in addition to recently signing Washington D.C. as a client, mySidewalk also provides services to regional municipalities, including Kansas City, Mo. and Olathe.
Hardy said that he’s been encouraged by the company’s progress and that its vision positions it well.
“We think cities are the future,” Hardy said. “Much of what’s being done to make cities smarter in the smart cities movement is building technology and we think it needs to be human-centered. Our approach is to provide data analytics around the people that live in cities to improve the way cities make decisions. We’re all in on that approach and we think the future is really bright for us and for the future of cities and proactive policymakers that are working in cities across the country.”
Founded in 2010, mySidewalk has raised $23.2 million and acquired VoterTide in 2013 for an undisclosed amount. Hardy emphasized his company’s commitment to Kansas City.
“The traction that we’ve had with our product over the last six months is something that we’re really encouraged about,” he said. “Kansas City is really important to us and being a good member of the community is important to us. So if there’s anything we can do to strengthen the community, we’re going to do that.”