How Venture-Backed Civic Eagle Created a “Values-Committee” to Align Growth and Mission
“Our values are around increasing participation in democratic process —this is our big mission.”
Damola Ogundipe is intent on proving that you can build a big venture-scale business and still be committed to your values.
Damola started Civic Eagle in 2016 and has raised $2.3M from Techstars, ff Ventures, Higher Ground Labs, and others.
Civic Eagle’s software helps advocacy organizations manage their legislative advocacy work with an easy-to-use software interface for monitoring and tracking bills, and best-in-class collaboration features that make working with partners and stakeholders on legislation easy.
At its current scale, Damola knows all of the current clients. But he understood that as the company grew, he would need to establish a process to ensure mission alignment, especially in how their products would be used.
“We have to start asking ourselves…hard questions about saying ‘no.’ Who we do or don’t work with…we are non-partisan but do take positions on certain policy issues.”
Civic Eagle created a ‘Values Committee’ to help operationalize its mission. The committee is led by Civic Eagle’s Chief Data Officer, Jesse Mortenson, with the participation of an ‘at large vote; and one co-founder. Damola has given the committee free rein to define their operating principles and scope, acknowledging that he may “have a bias that I am not aware of.”
The goal of the values committee is to determine if a deal aligns with, is neutral towards, or is contrary to Civic Eagle’s mission. When there is any large transactional event, it must be reviewed by the values committee. Damola knew that they were bound to encounter grey areas, so it was important to ensure that there was a process to handle these questions in a natural way:
“…not a new thing or awkward thing or experimental thing. We wanted it to be an operationalized process. Like using Hubspot.”
In the long run, Damola wants to go further and have someone from the values committee present as a board observer, or one day even hold an actual board position.
Damola cites his commitment to values as a competitive advantage:
“You can’t divorce company values from the customers you serve. Our goal is to lean into that fact while building a big business. We believe we can — our customers love that we stand by our values and we continue to grow exponentially.”