Last month, we launched Higher Ground Labs and opened applications for our first accelerator cohort and fellowship program. The response has been unbelievable.
We have received 74 applications for our first accelerator cohort and 49 applicants for our fellows program. Our applicants range from field organizers to voter protection lawyers, from product managers to senior engineers at Google and NASA, from entrepreneurs to marketing experts to policy wonks. They live all over the country and have experience working with all different segments of our population. Most of the ideas they are pursuing meet demonstrated needs in politics. Every one of these founders is incredibly passionate about the products they are building and are clearly focused on impact.
While we see tremendous diversity in the applicants, there are a few clusters where there is a lot of traction and momentum:
- Data and targeting: People are building tools that help campaigns better understand their audience and optimize their programs based on data. From building more affordable field models to refining and maximizing influencer targeting to using digital platforms to collect sentiment analysis, this is a focused area of innovation.
- Message targeting and distribution: Democrats are thinking critically about how to hone and distribute our message at scale – and political technology is following suit. Applicants are working on peer to peer messaging, optimizing the use of video, and testing persuasion messages in real time.
- Volunteer experience, particularly in the resistance: New tools and companies are springing up to meet the wave of energy we see in this moment. Entrepreneurs are thinking about the volunteer experience, both in campaigns and as part of the Resistance, and building new interfaces to attract that energy. From campaign CRMs to apps that aggregate opportunities to tools for volunteer recruitment, there are a ton of new, creative companies attacking this problem.
We see all three of these areas as primed for innovation – and would bet on several companies in each category to make a measurable difference in electoral outcomes by 2020.
We are overwhelmed by the opportunity and energy before us. So we’re running faster and harder. We are raising more money to deploy more capital. We are hiring to serve the companies and individuals we invest in and thinking carefully about how to help those we can’t invest in. We are planning more trainings and gatherings to try and reach more people, causes, and campaigns. This is a moment of urgency with true energy and enthusiasm to back it up. We want to meet the moment.
To our applicants – welcome to the Higher Ground Community. Thank you for applying and for fighting the fight you are fighting day in and day out. Your energy, drive, and creativity is going to make the lives of Americans better.
HGL was founded on the belief that there is demand for better, more innovative technology on political campaigns and the talent and creativity to create those tools. The past 4 weeks have proven that this is true – beyond any doubt.