Companies Have Cutting Edge Technology to Help Close ‘Progressive Tech Gap’
Higher Ground Labs, the leading innovative incubator and accelerator for progressive political and campaign technology, has deployed nearly $1.5 million to 10 groundbreaking companies that will begin supercharging progressive campaign technology. Each company is an early-stage political technology business that is developing innovative, cutting edge tools to advance progressive causes and help Democrats win elections. The initial companies include new tools for using influencers on social media, a platform to manage grassroots outreach, new survey and analytics tools, and best in class resources for down ballot candidates.
There were almost 150 applications to Higher Ground Labs this year. These companies were chosen because of the problems they are solving and the teams that are driving their development. Beyond the initial influx of capital investment, the companies will participate in a five month “bootcamp” that will accelerate their product development and expose them to potential clients who could benefit from their innovations. Each month, the entrepreneurs will come together for 3-5 days to focus on key parts of product and business development at programs in Chicago, Washington, D.C., Virginia and San Francisco. In addition, they will have access to the HGL advisory board which includes top-flight campaign experts, technology gurus, and entrepreneurs and investors.
“For too long, progressives have counted on Presidential campaigns to incubate and build campaign technology- a strategy that isn’t optimal when conservatives like the Koch brothers and the Mercers are pumping big money into permanent GOP campaign technology companies,” said HGL Advisory Board Chair Ron Klain, a former top White House aide. “We need to close this ‘progressive tech gap’ and Higher Ground Labs is giving these ten promising young companies a jumpstart to have impact in 2018 and beyond.”
The first round of 10 companies HGL is investing in include:
Voter Circle @ votercircle.com
VoterCircle is a powerful and easy to use friend-to-friend outreach platform that enables supporters to leverage their personal relationships to benefit a campaign or organization. With just a couple clicks, 100s of campaign supporters are be able to personally reach 1,000s of their friends from the comfort of their home on their own schedule. VoterCircle can be used at every stage of a campaign to increase name ID, grow an email list, recruit volunteers, identify grassroots donors as well as ID, persuade and GOTV voters.
Qriously @ qriously.com
Qriously has reimagined polling through the use of programmatic survey methodology and has achieved far more representative and accurate samples than traditional polling. Qriously’s deep understanding of voter sentiment and powerful predictive capabilities enable campaign strategists to plan intelligently, invest proactively in crucial electorates, and prevent election day surprises. Qriously has served marketing, investment, and corporate strategy clients since 2010, but in 2016 moved into politics and successfully predicted Brexit, Trump’s success in the Rust Belt, the Netherlands election outcomes and the recent referendum in Italy.
GroundGame @ getgroundgame.com
GroundGame is an opinionated technology platform for campaigns and causes to organize their voters, volunteers, and donors. The core platform is a voter, volunteer, and donor CRM, armed with organizing tools (1-to-1 SMS and email, tools for door knocking and calls, etc) and an API that connects to other platforms. GroundGame empowers campaigns of any size, from the smallest to the largest.
BallotReady @ ballotready.org
BallotReady provides data and tools to power down-ballot civic engagement – powered by the most comprehensive and complete dataset to every level of government. Using a powerful, customized voter turnout tools for campaigns, advocacy groups, and nonprofits to inform voters about their entire ballot and get out the vote, every election.
MobilizeAmerica @ mobilize2020.org
Mobilize America is built to help elect Democrats to state government. To achieve new levels of volunteer engagement, Mobilize America combines a robust two-sided marketplace to connect volunteers and campaigns, with a scaled digital grassroots organizing program. The model is being developed in Virginia’s 2017 house elections, and will deploy for competitive states nationwide in 2018.
Victory Guide @ victoryguide.us
Victory Guide is a digital campaign manager that provides candidates the tools and guidance they need to win with customized direction and advice. Each day, candidates receive an agenda of actions tailored to the state of their campaign. As the campaign inputs new data about voter interactions and fundraising, Victory Guide adjusts the agenda accordingly. Victory Guide automates time-consuming activities, like ‘cutting turf,’ organizing voter information, and managing volunteers.
Tuesday Strategies @ tuesdaystrategies.org
Tuesday Strategies is a civic technology company focused on political engagement for the digital age – creating a “digital door-knock”. With new field-tested software that allows campaigns to turn online supporters into digital volunteers by analyzing their social media influence and suggesting peer-to-peer conversations that help register, persuade, and turn out voters based on direct voter file integration.
Hope @ purpose.com
Hope is a new media brand and intelligent communications platform that serves as your savvy, funny friend who helps you understand politics and take strategic action. By coming to life where users are already having conversations—SMS, Messenger, Kik, and native mobile apps—Hope uses conversation-style stories to inform, activate, and motivate the new generation of activists who want to get engaged in making change but don’t yet know how. Hope is part of Purpose, a public benefit corporation that builds and supports movements to advance the fight for an open, just, and habitable world.
Field Day @ localid.io
Field Day is a venture-backed start-up in Los Angeles that aggregates and synthesizes billions of localized data-points across the US to help brands refine and activate hyper-local marketing initiatives. Field Day is simultaneously building a network of curated, experienced on-demand “brand ambassadors” to provide on-the-ground support alongside their online local data insights.
Hustle @ hustle.com
ustle is a technology platform that enables personalized, human connections to take place at-scale. Hustle affords organizers, activists, volunteers, and sales agents to manage thousands of personal conversations at a time, but with a personal 1:1 touch. Campaigns and causes have already been using Hustle with tremendous results; Higher Ground Labs has made a strategic investment in Hustle’s Series A to support and further disseminate an important product that is solving a critical need in the progressive political-technology ecosystem.
“We’re investing in these companies because they show tremendous promise to meet the needs of the progressive campaign eco-system for the next election and the ones after that,” said Betsy Hoover, co-founder of HGL. “Whether it’s innovative grassroots organizing, start-up tools for down ballot campaigns or innovative social media platforms to reach voters, these companies represent the new frontier in political campaign technology and we’re going to be their partners.”
In addition to making the initial investments, HGL has also selected 4 initial participants in the HGL Fellows Program – a 3-month “Entrepreneurship-in-Residence” that gives aspiring leaders with innovative approaches to technology the opportunity to learn from the best in the field and develop their ideas for eventual market-wide exposure.
The initial 4 fellows, selected from over 50 applicants, are:
Matt Martin is the founder of Grow Progress, which helps progressives test how to persuade swing voters. He believes that in order to win the fight for progress, we need to learn how to harness the power of behavioral science. That’s why he’s building Grow Progress – to help more advocates test how to strengthen their messaging with the science of persuasion. Prior to launching Grow Progress, Matt helped to create the NewDEAL, a national network that works with rising state and local elected leaders to spur progressive economic growth. He also worked for the first Obama campaign and as the Finance and Policy Director for a congressional campaign. Matt has been a partner at the Truman National Security Project, a fellow at New Leaders Council, and is a graduate of Bowdoin College.
Benjamin D. Singer is a fundraiser, organizer, filmmaker, communicator, & strategist focused on empowering everyday Americans & reforming money in politics. He served as the Patriotic Millionaires’ Political Director; MAYDAY.US’s National Campaign Director; Common Cause Illinois’s Director of Development; Media & Communications Manager for A Safe Haven, the largest provider of homeless services in Illinois; & fundraiser for successful U.S. Senate campaigns. He managed the grassroots, bipartisan campaign that made Illinois the 14th state to call for a Constitutional amendment to reverse Citizens United v. FEC. His work has earned awards from the Publicity Club of Chicago, Block Cinema Film Festival, Jewish United Fund’s inaugural “36 Under 36,” & Northwestern University, which he attended on a National Merit Scholarship. Benj enjoys dancing, biking, climbing trees, & rooting for the St. Louis Cardinals, often not at the same time.
Alex Soble is a civic technologist who builds web apps for political campaigns and local government. He served as a Code for America fellow building data visualization and student support tools for the Somerville Public School district in MA. Alex has worked on a wide variety of campaigns in both technical and non-technical roles, from a local insurgent state rep challenger in Chicago, to a Congressional campaign in Michigan, to Cards Against Humanity’s award-winning anti-Trump Nuisance PAC. In Chicago, he helped start Chano4Mayor.com, which earned media attention from the Chicago and music press and won the support of rapper/songwriter Drake.
Vishal Disawar is an organizer and software engineer with a strong interest in combining the two fields to drive up political engagement. He recently worked on the Hillary Clinton campaign as a digital organizer in Wisconsin and graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he studied computer science and political science. Vishal got his start with politics in college, where he started organizing on immigration issues and helped lead a grassroots campaign attempting to give undocumented students access to financial aid for higher education in Illinois. You can find Vishal at coffee shops listening to Drake or Kendrick Lamar while working or relaxing.
The Fellows Program begins on August 1st.