Ben Berkowitz

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Ben Berkowitz
BenPBerkowitzByCarolineSmith.jpg
Berkowitz in July 2017
Born Benjamin Platner Berkowitz
(1979-03-06) March 6, 1979 (age 39)
New Haven, Connecticut, U.S.
Residence New Haven, Connecticut, U.S.
Occupation Entrepreneur, activist, web designer
Years active 2001-present
Known for CEO and co-founder of SeeClickFix
Spouse(s) Kathleen Fredlund
Children 2
Website https://twitter.com/benberkowitz

Benjamin Platner Berkowitz (born March 6, 1979) is an American entrepreneur. Since 2008, he has been CEO and co-founder of the civic technology company SeeClickFix.

Early life and education[edit]

Berkowitz was born in 1979 in New Haven, Connecticut, the first child of Jeremy I. Berkowitz (1948-2012)[1] and Jody Platner. His father was a general contractor who owned the Red Rooster Construction Company in the New Haven area. His mother is a retired day-care manager.

Berkowitz attended Foote School and graduated from Hopkins School in 1997. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in electronic media from The George Washington University in 2001.

Berkowitz's maternal grandfather Warren Platner (1919-2006) was an architect and designer who created the interior of the Windows on the World restaurant, which opened in 1976 atop the original World Trade Center. Platner is also known for interior design of the Ford Foundation Building in New York City. He created a collection of Modernist furniture still in production more than a half-century later.[2]

Berkowitz's brother John Berkowitz (born 1982) is co-founder of Yodle,[3] an online advertising company that sold for a reported $342 million in 2016 [4]. He went on to become co-founder and CEO of OJO Labs[5]. Sister Brianna (born 1985) is a special education teacher.

Career[edit]

During college, Berkowitz worked as a part-time record-label representative in Washington, D.C. After graduation, he returned to New Haven and bought a home. He worked for his father's construction company and as a freelance graphic and web designer. He also created and sold souvenir t-shirts.[citation needed]

Berkowitz became the leader of a merchants' association that organized neighborhood cleanups, planted trees and opened a farmers' market.[6]

In 2012, Berkowitz and a friend organized the Inside Out Project, a public art installation meant to unify two neighborhoods separated by an interstate-highway overpass.[7]

Berkowitz is co-founder and board of directors president of Make Haven, a not-for-profit community tool shop for maker culture. He served on the boards of the United Way of Greater New Haven and the New Haven Land Trust.[citation needed]

Berkowitz spoke at the White House on July 3, 2012 at the invitation of its Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation. In a forum on Citizen-Based Innovation, he discussed civic technology and the crowdsourcing of government functions.[8][9]

In 2013 PBS Newshour listed Berkowitz as one of 10 "Young Agents of Change".[10]

SeeClickFix[edit]

As part of his civic-improvement efforts in New Haven, Berkowitz began asking local officials for infrastructure repairs, tree trimming and other public services. He was frustrated by the difficulty of communicating with government employees and a lack of a mechanism for followup. The original idea came from the app FixMyStreet.com which was in use in England. He conceived a civic engagement website where citizens could pinpoint issues like broken streetlights and potholes on a map and forward the repair requests to local officials. The problems could be publicly documented and their progress toward repairs tracked through a geographic information system. In the spring of 2008, Berkowitz launched SeeClickFix with partners Miles Lasater, Kam Lasater and Jeff Blasius.[11] [12]

Berkowitz and his collaborators were among the earliest programmers to use the Google Maps API (application programming interface) to create a third-party software as a service (SaaS) product. This technology made it simple for online media outlets to plug in SeeClickFix as a reader service.[13] SeeClickFix was well suited for a new wave of hyperlocal media, which sought to engage readers with quality-of-life coverage and online forums. Smartphones and social media brought further acceptance, enabling SeeClickFix users to document and share repair requests on the fly.[14]

Investors in SeeClickFix include O'Reilly AlphaTech Ventures[15] and Omidyar Network.[16] [17] The startup company had 18 employees in 2013.[18]

The SeeClickFix client base spread to local governments, as municipalities began using the service to compile citizen requests and manage repair projects. By 2016 its staff had grown to 36.[19] According to the SeeClickFix website, its service covers more than 25,000 municipalities and 8,000 neighborhoods in the United States and internationally. By October 2016, it surpassed three million cases reported.[20]

Personal life[edit]

Berkowitz proposed to partner Kathleen Fredlund while the two were creating a public-art mural at a highway overpass.[21] They were married on August 26, 2012. They live in New Haven and have two children.[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Legacy.com". 
  2. ^ Platner, Warren. "Collection of photos of furniture designed by the late Warren Platner". Pinterest. 
  3. ^ "Yodle". Crunchbase. Retrieved 1 November 2017. 
  4. ^ "lalorek" (June 14, 2017). "John Berkowitz, Yodle and OJO Labs Co-Founder Discusses Building Companies on Ideas to Invoices". SiliconHills: Technology News About Austin and San Antonio. Retrieved 1 November 2017. 
  5. ^ "OJO Labs Home Page". OJO Labs. Retrieved 1 November 2017. 
  6. ^ Bailey, Melissa (April 30, 2012). "Upper State Merchants Band Together". New Haven Independent. 
  7. ^ Stark, Samantha; Hager, Emily B. "Inspiring Activism With an App". New York Times. 
  8. ^ Obama White House (July 3, 2012). "White House Social Enterprise and Opportunity Series: Forum on Citizen-based Innovation". You Tube. 
  9. ^ Shelton, Jim (July 3, 2012). "SeeClickFix founder heads from New Haven to the White House". New Haven Register. 
  10. ^ Harless, William (January 11, 2013). "PBS New Hour Agents of Change". 
  11. ^ Bailey, Melissa (May 7, 2008). "See, Click, Fix". New Haven Independent. 
  12. ^ Joyner, April (December 1, 2010). "Civic Duty to SeeClickFix". Inc. 
  13. ^ Slotnik, Daniel E. (January 3, 2010). "News Sites Dabble With a Web Tool for Nudging Local Officials". New York Times. 
  14. ^ Kennedy, Dan (2013). The Wired City. University of Massachusetts Press. pp. 60–62. ISBN 978-1-62534-005-4. 
  15. ^ "Crunchbase". O'Reilly AlphaTech Ventures. 
  16. ^ "Crunchbase". Omidyar Network. 
  17. ^ Wauters, Robin (January 11, 2011). "SeeClickFix Gets Seen, Clicked And Funded By Omidyar Network And O'Reilly". TechCrunch. 
  18. ^ MacMillan, Thomas (November 22, 2013). "6 Years On, SeeClickFix Has Changed New Haven". New Haven Independent. 
  19. ^ Kramer, Jack (May 24, 2016). "SeeClickFix Founder Ben Berkowitz Partners With Local Governments". Hartford Courant. 
  20. ^ Hernandez, Esteban L. (October 27, 2016). "New Haven-based SeeClickFix celebrates 3 million citizen issues reported, the majority of them resolved". New Haven Register. 
  21. ^ MacMillan, Thomas (July 2, 2012). "Inside Out Claims 2nd Underpass". New Haven Independent. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Jensen, Bill (2013). Disrupt! Think Epic. Be Epic.: 25 Successful Habits for an Extremely Disruptive World. Netminds (defunct). pp. 136, 218. ISBN 978-0-9888795-2-2.