By definition, innovation is never complete. When we started Higher Ground Labs, we set out to build and maintain a culture of innovation in progressive politics. We have learned that this requires a constant stream of support and resources to people at every stage of the innovation cycle – and we continue to evolve our activities to meet that challenge.
We just wrapped up our first ever Founder Academy. Founder Academy was a 4-part program where participants heard from some of the most talented and experienced leaders in technology, politics and business. Speakers included technology leaders at the DNC, campaign leaders from 2020 races, advocacy organizations, and unions, NGP VAN, lecturers from General Assembly, SaaS startup founders, investors from Salesforce Ventures Impact Fund, and product and security experts from across our space.
40 founders participated in the program – including HGL’s newest cohort. All participants were given the opportunity to network with one another and interact directly with each of the speakers.
These three key themes surfaced throughout the series:
- Design technology with our users, not for them.
- When you build, put yourself in your customers’ shoes.
- Early adoption of technology is key to adoption and maximizing effectiveness.
Although we could not cover every aspect of political technology in four sessions, participants walked away with valuable knowledge from industry leaders. From Impactive’s sales director, Juliet Albin, they learned about how to work with the cyclical nature of the field. Nell Thomas, Chief Technology Officer of the DNC, highlighted the unique responsibilities of political technology. Industry leaders Matt Hodges and Jose Nunez IV covered best practices for everything from security to fundraising.
If we want to continue running cutting-edge campaigns and meeting our voters where they are, we need to continue to innovate. Working alongside these innovators the past two weeks is a reminder of what is possible when creators are given support, community, and resources to grow their ideas into realities. We are proud to be part of that process and excited to partner with many Founder Academy participants in the future.