A Father’s Legacy Lives On

Obama Letter to Aaron

By Aaron Cohen – At MeWe, we’re building powerful, easy-to-use mobile tools to help organizations manage quality, safety, and compliance – in order to make communities better and safer for everyone. We’re working with leading businesses and dozens of government agencies across the country.

How did we end up here? It’s been quite a journey. Along the way, we have drawn inspiration from figures ranging from Thomas Jefferson to Muhammad Ali.

Three years ago, Manik and I met at the GovLab, a “do-tank” at NYU that is leveraging technology to make government smarter, more efficient, and more democratic. Manik had worked at an investment firm before law school and I was a longtime entrepreneur. Manik was thinking about academia even as late as his 3rd year in law school and I had already transitioned to teaching at NYU. We were drawn to solving public sector problems and found ourselves creating a conference together. I invited my father, and that’s where Manik first met David Cohen.   

David was a remarkably optimistic person. He was the oldest participant at this gathering by at least 20 years, but he did know it was time to seriously engage with changing the system. A vocal participant in those sessions, it was natural that we invited David to brainstorm with us as we tried to figure out the government/technology sweetspot. He encouraged us to keep pushing to convince government agencies to work with us. Frequently, I would say to Manik that we had a ten year journey in front of us – a rare perspective in the tech sector – and Manik was sure it was because David was constantly telling us that real reform is a marathon, not a sprint.

David’s recent passing has moved many people, revealing just how far and wide his legacy survives. David’s life and example motivated us to work on problems that matter, and for that, we are ever grateful.

When we launched MeWe, David’s dedication to public service inspired us to believe that it is possible to meaningfully improve our communities – and our government. The overarching problem that motivated us was clear: both public and private sector organizations struggle to ensure health and safety as a result of aging infrastructure, inefficient inspection processes, and workflows that require (literally) mountains of paper. Our vision was to build lightweight, mobile technology that could save businesses millions of dollars, help government workers do their jobs more effectively, and make our communities better and safer in the process.

We’ve all heard the jokes of how inefficient and slow the government is, but as Chipotle’s recent food safety challenges remind us, both the private and public sectors need better tools to ensure health and safety. To meet this need, we created CoInspect, a mobile application that allows public and private inspectors to manage their workflow more easily and effectively.

Streamlining compliance and modernizing regulation remain central, albeit challenging goals, for our team at MeWe. Building a technology business to transform industries like government and law requires tremendous effort and passion. You really have to stick with it.

And David helped show us the way.

A few years ago, the Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling in the Citizens United case. Campaign Finance Reform was dealt what many thought was a death blow. Manik and I discussed this at a dinner with David, a passionate advocate of campaign finance reform, a year ago. We were both stunned at how David remained upbeat in the face of such an upset. It was a lesson for us — and for civic entrepreneurs everywhere. Don’t give up. Stay positive.  

David would say “Keep the Faith.” We will.