Democracy tech in an election season

The amazing folks behind Reboot Democracy invited motivote to give a 5-minute pitch to a packed house at their most recent event, focused on democracy tech in an election season. We were delighted to share the stage with inspiring tools and platforms like Mobilize America, IssueVoter, and The Flipside.

Our first Reboot event was all the way back in March—we joined as attendees, and gave a 30-second pitch on our model during an open mic section at the end. How far we've come! This time, were able to cover our promising NY pilot results, detailed mockups of our user experience, and robust advisory team. But some things didn't change: learning about other awesome activists in this space who were interested in how motivote can amplify GOTV work in NYC and nationwide.

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Our podcast debut!

The only thing millenials love more than avocado toast is podcasts, so we're thrilled that motivote made its debut on Two Broads Talking Politics!

We chatted with co-hosts Kelly and Sophy about how we came together, our optimism about the surge of young people turning out in 2018, and ways for listeners to get involved in our pilots (hint: just sign up here.) .

Emily also got a platform to share her favorite fact about why your vote matters: the closest Senate election was decided by just two votes.  

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motivote heads south [Campaign spotlight]

Gayatri Agnew is running for Arkansas House, District 93, in the November midterm elections. Her campaign debuted motivote at a July 4th community picnic last week. 

Agnew is Senior Director of Corporate Giving at Walmart at the company's headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas. A mom, business leader and community college alum, Agnew's platform focuses on building community, and bringing education and jobs to Northwest Arkansas.

The campaign is using motivote as a grassroots mobilization tool, placing it in the hands of high school- and college-aged campaign volunteers who want to compel peers to vote. The Agnew campaign also plans to empower Walmart employee affinity groups to use motivote.

Bentonville is the district’s largest city, and home to Walmart’s global headquarters. A large proportion of the city’s population works at Walmart, but many only live in the state for a few years. The Agnew campaign is using motivote to encourage these employees to engage in Arkansas politics and turn out in an election they may otherwise have overlooked.

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School's IN for summer [SLP update]

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The NYU campus has quieted down for the summer, but it's buzzing inside the Leslie eLab, where we're halfway through the Summer Launchpad Accelerator. 

Highlights include:

  • Getting matched with amazing entrepreneur and investor mentors who are taking us to the next level
  • A 2-day design sprint that let us unleash our crafting skills (pipe cleaners!) and test our messaging with NY voters
  • Learning the ropes from industry leaders, including the founders of FourSquare and Sprinklr
  • Building a business alongside a group of incredible entrepreneurs, who inspire and challenge us every day. Check them out here.

A civic tech cookout

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We were invited by James Felton Keith and Black Lives Matter to present our model to the Mid-Manhattan NAACP chapter at its weekly Thursday cookout.

The group enjoyed hot dogs, burgers and the opportunity to share motivote's model with chapter members.  We took attendees through the steps of joining and participating in motivote, and had a few new team leads join on the spot!

We’re keeping the conversation going with attendees and excited to join for another cookout in the future.

Meet our mentors

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NYU's Summer Launchpad has a lot of great perks. Awesome speakers, free food, a 24-hour workspace...the list goes on.

But what's even better than Court Street Grocers sandwiches followed by hor d'oeuvres and happy hour? The fantastic mentors we recently matched with! 

Drum roll please....

Carley Roney | The Knot/XO Group

Dan Melinger | Realtime Lab

Eric Kroll | Venture Catalyst

Brian Cohen | New York Angels

Anna Marie Wascher | Flat World Partners

Joe West | Radian Capital

The SLP coaches set up a few "speed-dating" sessions where each team got to briefly pitch their idea and then chat one-on-one with potential mentors about vision, obstacles, and objectives for the summer. 

Our three "entrepreneur mentors" coach us in their areas of expertise, which range from branding strategy to gamification techniques. Our three "investor mentors" help us chart our business model milestones and navigate working with a board for the very first time. 

And why stop there? We're also thrilled to bring on two new advisors. Scott Thies (Google) is helping us develop our tech strategy and product roadmap, and Lisa Vehrenkamp (Launchpad Partners) is all about thinking big in our business model and polishing our pitch deck. 

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson votes. Do you? [Election Day recap]

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We got out of the office and into the city on Election Day to talk to New Yorkers about voting!

In Astoria, Crown Heights, the East Village, and Union Square, we met dozens of voters, current and future, who stopped to chat and take a picture in our voting photo frames.

Every photo op gave people a chance to pick a message to share with their friends on social media, like ‘Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson votes. Do you?’, or ‘Don’t boo, vote!’.

In the evening, we moved the festivities indoors, where motivoters and friends joined us to celebrate Election Day at our first ever Drinks & Democracy event.

We look forward to meeting more New Yorkers across the city for the next election, on September 13th. Want to see our voting photo frame in your neighborhood? Let us know your polling place and we’ll swing by the most requested spots in future elections.

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"In Good Companies"

motivote was selected to pitch at Collectively’s "In Good Companies: Investor Panel and Pitch Night." Snaps for such a pun-ny event title! 

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We presented in front of a panel of investors, including: Sarah Millar at City Light Capital, Elizabeth Werbe at The New School’s Impact Entrepreneurship Initiative, and Sree Kolli at the Partnership Fund for New York City. They shared great feedback and questions around our plan for national impact and how we integrate resources from peer organizations to overcome information barriers. 

Our favorite reaction, though, was from a cohort of female founders visiting from Australia through SheStarts. They thought commitment contracts for voting were a cool idea, but couldn't fathom that people would need them. In Australia, voting is compulsory and takes place on a Saturday. Low turnout is unheard of!

 

Taking GOTV into the 21st century

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What better way for a youth-focused, civic tech startup to spend the weekend than surrounded by young people with social impact ambitions?

In early June, we joined The Impact Summit, a conference for young computer scientists working to use their coding and technological skills for good.

On Day 1, we spoke with students about how we’re using technology to encourage young people to vote at their Career Expo. We also built relationships with young people who are now volunteers and potential partners.

On Day 2, co-founders Emily and Rachel led a workshop on the history of voter engagement and how motivote is bringing it in into the 21st century using our digital platform and a social accountability model.