How PolicyPulse Deals with Apathy, a Problem for all Political Startups

May 21, 2012

2:30 pm

What do you do if you’re solving a problem that few people know is a problem? Is that a problem?

Dallas-based startup PolicyPulse, part of the latest Tech Wildcatters class, has a big vision to bring citizens together with city governments, nonprofits, and advocacy groups to collaborate on new laws. Right now, they say, politicians don’t know what people want, and citizens don’t even know when local issues are up for voting.

The team has seen this firsthand: COO Krishanu Sengupta was a consultant to local governments, and CMO Andres Ramos worked on exposing problems in education while at Teach for America. They cofounded PolicyPulse along with CEO Miles Bacon.

As Sengupta explained, they knew their main challenge would be engaging citizens:

“We’re a startup company focused on local policy, so our experience has been similar to trying to build an airplane in mid-flight,” he jokes. “Despite the general apathy that exists today, we’re confident that great design, built on the back of emerging trends, can in fact connect communities to the decisions which impact their everyday lives.”

To do that, PolicyPulse is taking it slow and simple – starting with a very personal issue (education), one community (Dallas), and one feature (questions). Questions come from city leaders looking to get answers from the community – What are the most important traits in a principal? Will longer school days improve graduation rates? Next will be Agendas, where citizens can weigh in on upcoming local policy issues. PolicyPulse also hopes to engage the apathetic with its pretty, photo-heavy design.

PolicyPulse demoed at our Tech Cocktail Dallas mixer last week. As part of Tech Wildcatters, they will be launching officially on July 11.

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Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact kira@tech.co.

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