Platform for citians to explore their cities, stay connected with local communities, and learn about local businesses through events and hot deals.





Product Concept

CitySmart is a Community as a Service (CaaS) platform which connects municipalities, small businesses, and organizations to consumers.

The platform collects useful information of different activities going on in a city such as events, traffic, news, weather and businesses, and then provides it to consumers free of charge through a mobile application.

On the other hand, small businesses such as local restaurants or coffee shops who would like to reach consumers in their city can do so on the CitySmart platform by hosting events and promoting offers and discount deals.

CitySmart is available for download on iOS and Android. Check ‘em out!

Aha! Moment

Donald Hawkins, founder and CEO of CitySmart, found himself moving to 3 different cities in 2 years due to work. The constant relocation would mean he would always have to find ways to make connections in the city.

This proved to be a difficult task, especially when searching for local businesses and events take place on numerous platforms. Donald realized that if it is difficult for consumers to explore and connect with local businesses, then it must be hard for businesses as well.

And thus the idea for CitySmart was born.

Founder story

Here is Donald sharing his story:

“I was the national sales director for a lifestyle print media company here in Kansas City. We focused on hyper-local magazines in 60 communities around the country. And I realized while working, that the more local you got, the more engaged the consumers became.”

“During my time there, I began researching numbers for print media worldwide and saw it was a stagnant industry at 20 billion for the last 20 years. But in the digital world, everything was increasing and trending in a very exciting manner. I inquired about adding a digital component to the company, they decided they would focus on print, so I put in my 2 weeks.”



Project Category

Web App and Mobile App

App Category

Marketing SaaS

Venture Phase

Seed Round

Client Highlight

Raised $200,000 in seed funding

What We Did

  • tick Product Strategy

  • tick UX/UI Redesign

  • tick Full Stack Development

  • tick Content Management System (CMS)

  • tick Built and synced 6 different touchpoints of platform




Before working with us, Donald had already built a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) to test the product concept. While the MVP helped launch CitySmart, its infrastructure could not scale efficiently as CitySmart grows.

For each new city the platform onboarded, the CitySmart development team had to do custom development to create a new website and two new mobile applications for that city. After onboarding, the content management for each city was all fragmented and done separately from each other.

For business users, the platform lacked a streamlined process for registering an account and listing their businesses on the platform. For the consumers, to get information on a different city, they needed to download a new localized app specific to that city.

When CitySmart gained enough traction to scale, Donald knew he needed to consolidate the different pieces of his platform for all user types (cities, businesses, consumers, and administrators).





During our project kickoff, we worked with Donald to identify the painpoints CitySmart faced when the company scales.

During our discussion, a pattern emerged: duplication of effort. Every time something needed an update, the CitySmart team would have to individually update each one of his city-specific apps.

Not only was this expensive and time-consuming, it also prevented CitySmart from rapidly iterating and improving its platform.

To eliminate the duplication of effort, we worked with the CitySmart team to architect a system which would bring all aspects of the platform under one roof for each of the user types.

For the consumers, we designed a mobile app which allows them to easily switch between cities to get relevant information instead of having to download a new app for each city.

For the businesses, especially those who have presence in multiple cities, we designed a centralized content management system (CMS) from which they can manage their business page, offers and events for all their locations.

For the admin users, we designed an admin portal from which the CitySmart team can manage all aspects of their ecosystem such as the number of cities active on the platform, the relevant information for each city, the number of consumers and business users in each city, etc.

With this new architecture, the content management is centralized for the business users and for the administors, while the experience is still hyper-localized and personalized for each consumer.

Successful implementation of this strategy would make CitySmart a much more scalable platform.

“Being able to go through the full ideation process, for the new app, while running a business was tough. So being able to lean on Lean Start Lab to aid in ideation and development was definitely really beneficial for us.”

CitySmart solution image


With the strategy in place, we worked with Donald to design the user journey for each user type.

After creating the user types, we set to personify each to give them a personality that would make the design become more human-centric. The consumers, average Joes and Janes, would consume content pushed on the platform by the admins and the businesses. The business users, local businesses, would publish information about their business and possible promotions. And the admin will monitor the platform and publish relevant content and news.

From there, we created flowcharts for each user type and dove deeper into the functionality each user would need. We considered why they would use the app, the actions they would take on the app, and what screens would appear when those actions were taken.

After presenting the flowcharts to Donald and receiving his approval we began to wireframe the main screens of his application. In this step, our UX designers created sketches on paper and blueprints for the major screens which had been mapped out in the flowcharts.

For this, we used MarvelApp, as it allows for live collaboration, something Donald was a huge fan of. Having live feedback creates a quick feedback loop during design and keeps the designs faithful to the client’s original vision.

Next, we moved to UI design. Using sketch our designers import the designs to Marvel App, where the client will be able to comment. Once they approve the designs, we finalize them and hotspot each screen.

After 3 weeks and 3 design phases, our team delivered the clickable prototype to Üdo for all 3 user types discussed.

“I loved that LSL was very effective at reminding me to focus on the important things that I needed, as opposed to the myriad of features that, as an entrepreneur, I would love to add. That focus helped us get things done a lot faster and much more effectively.”

CitySmart mobile app gif


To make sure development move along smoothly and efficiently, we kept Donald and the CitySmart team in the loop on every step of the way.

We worked in a 2-week cadence (called sprint), which we start with a planning meeting to set the goals and deliverables of those 2 weeks and end with a presentation of the result to Donald and his team to get their feedback and approval. Together, we consistently did progress updates, product backlog review, feature prioritization, and quality assurance.

An important decision we collectively made was to pivot to using React Native, an app development framework by Facebook, which allows us to build a cross-platform app (an app which is built once, but is compatible with both iOS and Android). This pivot saved us a lot of time and resource throughout the project.




  • Team successfully migrated users from legacy platform to new platform

  • New platform simplified onboarding work by bringing affiliated sites under one roof

  • Improved UX/UI of all touchpoints of the platform (website, web app, and mobile app)

“Lean Start Lab did a great job of helping me as an entrepreneur focusing on what was needed and what was most important. That focus led to a better concept of a product and being more focused on my customers.”




  • Upgraded platform architecture to improve scalability

  • Added 2 consumer-facing touch points to increase reach

  • Created consistent brand experience across 6 touch points of the platform

  • Centralized content management system (CMS) for Admin users

  • Modernized user interface and improved user experience

  • Hit KPI goals and product quality to earn investment

  • $200,000 in seed capital from Quake Capital Partners

“Working with Lean Start Lab has been very effective for CitySmart. Because of our relationship, I was able to leverage our new direction with a VC fund and accelerator that funded us with $200,000. Also helped us get to a significant growth stage where we have a product that clients can use with minimal issues and big results.”

Donald’s 3 Words to Describe Lean Start Lab:
“Driven. Honest. Dependable.”

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