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Nov 17, 2023

6 Years of GLASS: Pioneering the Future of Government E-Commerce

Glass celebrates their 6th year anniversary

We're thrilled to celebrate our 6th anniversary! This is not just a marker on the calendar — it's a testament to the dedication of our team, the constant collaboration with our government partners, and the enduring spirit of innovation that defines us. Let's embark on this journey together, unwrapping the layers of our past and setting the stage for the chapters yet to be written. Cheers to 6 years of constant experimentation, resilience, and the boundless possibilities that lie ahead!

GLASS is the result of an extensive and challenging journey embarked upon by our founder and CEO, Paola Santana. She questioned if technology, as a system and set of tools and methodologies, was better than politics to create much-needed global change at an accelerated pace. 

In 2017, driven by the vision of scaling good processes and decision making in the public sector and with the desire to empower "the people serving the people", Paola founded GLASS. Our first experiment, Glass Commerce, quickly became a pioneering e-commerce platform built to streamline daily government purchases and help buyers access an increased range of high-quality products and services, from pre-verified vendors, with a couple of clicks. 

For those who develop, create, and manage e-commerce platforms, the first major milestone is when the first purchase order comes through. For us, that happened on April 24th, 2019. Who would have thought that our government-focused e-commerce platform would receive, as its first order, a request for "Post-It!" notes? It wasn't exactly what we had envisioned, but the excitement that surged through us was as genuine as if someone had ordered furnishings for an entire government office! We didn't have headquarters (HQ), corporate regulations and protocols, a large team, or everything figured out, but what we did have was a vision that came to life with our very first purchase order.

Anyone who's creating breakthrough solutions for governments knows it's no walk in the park — more often than not, it feels like there's a surplus of 'no' rather than 'yes.' Yet, our perseverance, belief in the unparalleled potential of the public sector, and passion for creating a future that's more inclusive, sustainable, and universally accessible for all, have fueled us during these years! This drive has propelled us to become pioneers in e-commerce for governments, dismantling the barriers that impede seamless and agile interactions between governments and the small, diverse, and local businesses powering our local economies.

Our rapid growth and adoption in the last years of operations has allowed us to streamline procurement operations for over 45 Federal, State and Local government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the States of Illinois and Florida, Dallas County, Pierce County, and the Cities of Seattle, Miami, Oakley and others. 

We’ve facilitated the procurement of over 5.8 Million items to date, and have successfully transacted over $4 million dollars through our government marketplaces. Our work has been featured on Bloomberg NewsStanfordILSRBusiness Insider, and Bloomberg Radio, and ranked in the Top 10 GovTech Solutions and as a 2022 Open Contracting Champion by Open Contracting Partnership.

We've accomplished and grown a lot over the past 6 years, but this last year in particular we've come significantly closer to our Moonshot goals! 

We reshaped our approach to a product-centric focus with Glass Commerce. Our commitment remained steadfast in crafting robust procurement tools that elevate our government user experience, finely tuned to the unique requirements of our public sector clients and partners.

Isabel Torrón, our Head of Product, Design and User Experience, pointed out: “Governments can always count on GLASS to implement the most relevant and efficient solutions towards the pain points they might encounter in their tasks. We are constantly evaluating upcoming technologies and understanding their secure integration towards our product design. Tangible features that our users can benefit from within our products include time-saving search engines, automated purchasing quote turnover and highly responsive assistance available 24/7. We are always available for our user’s feedback and feature requests in order to improve our solutions.

We also introduced our brand-new Glass Commerce, an enhanced and more powerful iteration of our pioneering government e-commerce platform. We proudly rolled out two groundbreaking features tailored for small businesses: 1) Automatic Inventory and Price Syncing, and 2) Automatic Ordering Processing.

In a monumental leap, we successfully secured a $3.7 MM seed round, led by investors from New Age Capital, with participation from   Newtopia VC, Alcove Capital, SV Links, Kittyhawk Ventures, One Planet VC, Worldgate Group, Alchemist Accelerator, Tubbs Ventures, Capital Plus Financial, Corporación Inmex - NOA Capital Corp., PeopleFund Inc., and others.

Ivan Alo, Co-founder at New Age Capital, shared: “GLASS is positioned to capture a unique opportunity at the intersection of digital innovation and government procurement. We love to invest in companies in which software can solve an immediate need within legacy industries and where early adoption is driven by the founders' domain expertise and unique insights. Most investors tend to avoid startups that sell to the government due to the perception that the sales cycle is too long and bureaucratic. In the case of GLASS, Paola's expertise in government procurement coupled with the team's clear ability to attract government clients with their product offering leads us to believe GLASS will unquestionably be the dominant player in the market over the long term.” 

We continued breaking ground, later receiving funding from Google, becoming part of one of the fastest-growing technology ecosystems in the world and accelerating our vision of revolutionizing how governments buy goods and services from small businesses worldwide.

"Google will accelerate our efforts of bringing 32 million U.S. small businesses into the government economy. With this support, we expect to heavily leverage and integrate Google's AI and ML capabilities into our pioneering government marketplaces," Paola reflected.

In September, we made it in the TechCrunch Disrupt Startup Battlefield 200, a competition that spotlighted the most disruptive technology startups across multiple global industries.

And just last month, we presented the GLASS vision on the Forbes stage and had our very own Head of Research & Development, Gerardo Mateo, listed in the Forbes Under 30 ranking. 

We also debuted on our first Times Square’s billboard during New York Tech Week, thanks to the support of our valued investor, Newtopia VC, in partnership with Brex. Paola highlighted that: “For GLASS, this opportunity transcends the spotlight; it serves as a testament to our tireless dedication to government innovation. Our presence in Times Square symbolizes our commitment to redefining the future of government procurement through Glass Commerce, our pioneering e-commerce solution. This moment is not only a source of pride for our team but also a profound milestone that reaffirms our pursuit of progress and excellence in the GovTech industry.”

This new anniversary serves as a reminder of all we've worked hard for and accomplished, and propels us to continue unlocking the future we aspire to make possible for everyone. Our mission remains crystal clear: To forge a solid bridge between the largest purchasers in the world — governments — and the 400 Million Small Businesses powering our economies worldwide.

Thanks to our government partners, vendors, investors, advisors, friends, supporters, and to everyone who has been part of our growth and journey! The best is next!


This blog was written by Gisela Montes, GovTech Community Lead at Glass.