Our Annual Political Tech Landscape Report
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Landscape Report

Hillary Lehr   /  

Has anyone ever told you that *you* should consider becoming a founder of a progressive technology startup? Well, we just did!

Starting a company is a way for you to use your creativity and expertise to solve real problems that you understand better than anyone else. It takes commitment, perseverance, and vision – but ultimately allows you to create the world you want to  see. The progressive tech community is growing every day. You will find a community of support from funders to other founders to users. This is the time!

Here are five reasons you should consider becoming a founder:

1. Solve that nagging tech problem once and for all… YOUR way
Inefficiencies and time-wasters are everywhere in politics. We’ve all experienced pain points – data, voter outreach, reporting, or fundraising. We’ve all experienced technology tools that are a delight to use…and we’ve also navigated our way through clunky tools that stop short of where they should. Perhaps you have already built workarounds or have given product feedback complete with mockups and workflows. You know what works and what doesn’t.

Imagine the satisfaction of building a tool that offers an efficient solution capable of preserving precious time and resources for hundreds or thousands of dedicated campaign workers across the country. Imagine instead of being along for the ride, becoming the captain of a ship where you can lead the vision and development of a truly delightful technology product. What would you create? What would it feel like to use? How would you prioritize features and what would you use to define success? See, you are already thinking like a founder!

2. Create the diverse, thriving, company culture *you* want to work hard for
Why put up with yet another workplace with a legacy of issues when you can create your own dream team? What type of company culture would you create if you were building your own business? What inclusive hiring and onboarding best practices would you be proud to ensure are in place from the very beginning? Have you brainstormed with close friends and allies about what would be possible in a company that doesn’t allow oppressive patterns or toxic cultures to take root? How would it feel to work there? How would you empower your employees so they feel truly valued and mission aligned? If exploring these important questions gives you energy, it’s a strong indicator that you are ready to take the next step as a leader… and that you will be a phenomenal one.

3. (Believe it or not) You already possess many of the skills you will need.
By virtue of working in this space, regardless of the role, your insight into the market, product landscape and customer pain points are a strong advantage. Your perspective and experience give you the tools you need to start something of your own. Whether you are already planning exactly how you would build your startup or just realizing that this is a path you might be interested in, your perspective and experience give you many of the tools you need to be a founder. No one has all the CEO boxes checked on day one. In fact, founders have widely different previous work experience, EQ & communication capabilities, leadership training, technical skills, and business education. So long as you can recognize your seasoned strengths as well as acknowledge where you will need to grow, you are well on your way to being a worthy leader of a successful start-up.

4. You are not alone …  there are real sources of support for your growth (including funding).
Higher Ground Labs has invested over $15 million dollars in 36 startups that serve the progressive political technology ecosystem. As founders go through the HGL accelerator program, many build strong friendships and collaborate on businesses which grow with fellow cohort participants. Intentional supportive spaces allow founders to get real about challenges and share helpful solutions.

The Higher Ground Labs Accelerator is a year-long program designed to help new founders (like you!) develop a product, bring it to market, and build a company that is ready to scale. As you already know from working on campaigns, scale is key. We’ll help you get there with seed funding, training intensives, coaching, connections, and community.

In addition to our highly recommended accelerator program and founder community, HGL can help you build your network and successfully launch your company in the political technology space. We regularly convene events with industry leaders including electoral debriefs, demo days, webinars, and conferences. As thought-leaders, the HGL team has painstakingly mapped out the entire Political Technology Ecosystem in order to identify new companies as well as sourcing new needs for innovation in the space. Our Advisory Board and community are informed by an impressive group of change-makers, funders, and strategists.

As a founder in the HGL portfolio, you’ll hold a special and prestigious place in this community where you can help build leadership and connections that build your business and help drive progressive wins. 

Don’t take our word for it, hear directly from founders in our portfolio:

Higher Ground Labs was transformative for our team. Over four months with your support we built out and piloted a revamped product, gained significant market traction and network support, and generated a strong pipeline of investors and clients. The industry insight, continuous support and network connections that you provided have been key to our success. The pace of the accelerator pushed us to the edge of what was possible, with the right balance of ambitious and achievable, and propelled us forward in terms of both our learning and our offering.”

– Avalanche Insights

Higher Ground Labs was instrumental in clarifying the political technology ecosystem and its key players, helping us connect with potential partners, customers and funders, and ensuring we were focused on a strong execution plan.

– New/Mode

HGL has accelerated our progress tremendously. As a result of HGL we have met potential partners, customers, supporters, and advisors. We’ve learned how to better tell our story and we have set a vision for where we want to be. We would not be where we are without their support.”

– BallotReady

5. You are needed.
Now more than ever, it’s time for fresh ideas and a diversification of technological innovation. The needs of the progressive community will be best met when our technology community reflects the communities we aim to reach and organize. 

We know that becoming a founder is risky – and that risk is not equally distributed. For example, founders of color and women often experience additional challenges fundraising. Individuals who do not come from a wealthier background may not have a safety net if an idea fails. These obstacles are faced by many diverse founders with powerful and worthy ideas. 

By intentionally supporting Black founders, female founders, BIPOC leadership, and the bold + visionary ideas these leaders offer, we will be most effectively leveraging our resources to be a just, positive force for helping brilliant ideas come to life and make an impact. We are committed to making the progressive tech community more accessible and representative in the years to come – and we hope that starts with you.

We truly hope you will consider becoming a founder in the Higher Ground Labs community.

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Who are we?
Higher Ground Labs is reimagining political technology. We invest in, and support through our accelerator program,  start-ups building products that help progressives win. To date we have invested in over 30 startups building new tools for voter contact, campaign management, data & analytics, and organizing. 

Learn more about our team here.

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Ready to learn about how to become a founder? Great!
Here’s where to begin:

Join us for a Higher Ground Labs webinar to learn more about how exactly to become a progressive tech startup founder. RSVP here.