Join us to participate in the upcoming 2019 City:One Challenge. 

Colu. Make your journey count.

A rewards platform designed to encourage residents to live local, move around the city & connect to healthy living opportunities

Photo of Elad Erdan
6 7

Written by

Cities can thrive only when residents feel truly connected and empowered, and only if they provide a viable alternative to live more prosperous, healthy and environmentally-friendly lives. Tackling these challenges of encouraging a healthier, more inclusive and more equitable society, is about much more than new modes of mobility or innovative technological solutions around transportation. 

Therefore, faced with the challenges of growing inequality in social-economic opportunities and a disparity in health and recreational activities, Austin stands to benefit from adopting a tool that will enable the city to effectively connect residents to healthy living opportunities and nudge them to get out of their front door. 

Colu proposes to launch a local city rewards platform, powered by a unique digital currency (“the Austin Coin”), to connect residents of East Austin, especially those in ‘winding’ neighborhoods, to city hubs. Colu will do so by rewarding locals for taking everyday actions which collectively make health care consumption and healthy lifestyle choices into simpler, more enjoyable and friendly actions for residents. Alongside this, the platform will be used to encourage residents to change their mobility habits and adopt public, shared and other innovative mobility solutions. 

Practically, the platform allows residents and people who regularly visit the city, to be rewarded for moving around the city and experiencing what it has to offer in ways that contribute to making it a better place for everyone - through Colu’s “City Journeys” in the Colu app. For example, a City Journey can be such that residents are rewarded for purchasing local fresh produce, exploring local markets and shopping at ‘greener lifestyle’ businesses. Another example of a City Journey that can reward residents, would be participating in outdoor sporting activities, using public parks or walking around the city.

Rewards will be given in Austin Coin, which can then be spent at local businesses or contributed towards community causes, such as charities and nonprofits operating in Austin, thus strengthening the local economy and the resilience of the community.

The platform is designed to facilitate collaboration between city council, local businesses, mobility solutions providers and anchor institutions in rewarding residents for shared goals which improve city life. Put simply, the Austin local currency deployed in the Colu app will act as a fuel to drive residents towards making healthier, more sustainable choices, from food to mobility.

Colu is operating in Tel Aviv, Haifa (Israel), Liverpool and Belfast (UK), and has more than 200K users.  Check out our website -

Scroll down or click here to watch a short video to see how Colu’s platform works alongside Belfast City Council

Describe who will use your solution (1,000 characters)

Colu’s platform offers a consumer App that will be used by residents of Austin, and provides tools for local businesses and local anchor institutions, e.g., Austin City Council or local nonprofit organisations, to engage with users of the App and reward them. For *users* of the App the platform will be an enabler to encourage and reward them for exploring and experiencing the city from different perspectives. For *local merchants* the platform will provide the opportunity to reach new customers, to engage and retain existing customers, while partnering with other businesses and city champions to strengthen the local economy. For *anchor institutions, nonprofits and the Austin City Council* the platform will provide a tool to nudge a behavioral change and to generate engagement with residents (or customers) in connection with healthy living, and other city goals and a tool to support independent businesses in the city.

Describe your solution's stage of development

  • Fully Scaled - you have already scaled your solution and are exploring new use cases

Insights from previous testing (500 characters)

Colu recently concluded a successful campaign alongside Tel Aviv Municipality, boosting local economic activity and social resilience in a less affluent area, where local businesses were suffering due to a massive transportation upgrade. The campaign generated a significant increase in local economic activity (over USD 250k) by encouraging residents to visit the area, despite the mobility challenge. Residents testimonials revealed that many traveled from nearby neighborhoods to support the area

Tell us about your team or organization (500 characters)

Colu was founded in 2014 and is a leading innovator in local currencies and citizen engagement. Operating in Tel Aviv, Haifa (Israel), Liverpool and Belfast (UK), Colu has more than 200K users and accounts for over 300,000 monthly transactions. Colu has raised over $40 million from major VC investors and won several awards within the Israeli startup ecosystem. The company's CEO is a well-known entrepreneur, while senior executives include experts in behavioral economics, design and product.

Size of your team or organization

  • 11-50

Team or Organization URL

Funding Request

  • $100,000

Rough budget (500 characters)

Our budget estimation for the pilot period consists of an operational budget in the amount of USD 25K (for a local team and support from Colu’s HQ) a reward budget in the amount of USD 75K to be distributed in rewards to residents during the period of the pilot.

Describe how you would pilot your idea (1000 characters)

Colu, alongside Ford Mobility, will launch the “Austin Coin” - a unique digital currency that will be used to reward residents and will be accepted at local businesses that join the Colu network. Colu will seek active collaboration with Austin City Council. In preparation for the launch, Colu’s local team will begin pre-boarding a critical mass of merchants and business partners to enable a meaningful launch of the app to users. Once achieved, the app will be opened to users and Colu’s local team will take aggressive steps to generate acquisition of users (with a focus on East Austin) and grow the network of merchants. Colu will publish “City Journeys” on the app - a series of actions and interactions which result in a reward on completion, to encourage residents to make healthier, more sustainable choices, from food to mobility and to take other everyday actions which collectively contribute to the area’s local livelihood and sense of community.

Describe how you would measure the success of your pilot (1000 characters)

Pilot success will be tested in light of 3 KPI’s - 1) Successful adoption of platform (measured in terms of the number of active monthly users, active merchants and monthly volume of rewards); 2) Successful POC for impacting local behavior, e.g., campaign to move consumption of health care services in Austin, increasing the number of residents that participating in sport activities through the platform or encourage other (measurable) activities in the area - Preferably to be identified jointly with the city prior to launch of pilot; and 3) Company's ability to form partnerships with the City of Austin, commercial entities and other city anchor institutions that will enable scaling of the platform after the pilot term is over.

Sustainability Plan (500 characters)

Colu’s sustainability plan for ongoing operation is based on its ability to expand into new areas of the city (to increase the number of active users and merchants on its network) and its ability to form partnerships with city anchor institutions that will sponsor reward budgets. As part of its business model for sustained operation, Colu will charge merchants and commercial business partners a monthly subscription fee for use of the platform.

Social Media

Twitter - >>>> Facebook-


Join the conversation:

Photo of Franklin Brown

Hi Elad,
My team and I would like to extend an open invitation to collaborate with you in the Ford 2019 City:One Challenge. Our Austin Green Health Zones project was designed to be an inclusive plan, and if we become the finalist in the competition, we would like to consider using your work as one of our included partnerships. Please take a moment to read our proposal and explore the various ways in which we maybe able to work together. We've already had a chance to look over your project and we think it would be a perfect fit to include in our plan, as our project was thought through and written to allow room for additional innovative projects just like yours. We're more than certain that you'll agree that it's a win-win situation for you and your team. Please feel free to contact us at anytime. We look forward to exchanging ideas and conversing with you soon. Thank you in advance for your time and best of luck in the challenge!

-Franklin Brown | Urban UAV Systems & Consulting, Inc.

View all comments