By Nick Nelson
Election season is upon us. Campaigns will be ramping-up in the coming months with several important seats up for grabs in November. That means a great deal of information (and misinformation) will be flying around.
The sheer volume of rhetoric coming from all angles can make it difficult for a person – particularly a young person who is new to the political climate – to cut through the bureaucracy and align himself or herself with a candidate that holds matching viewpoints and ideologies.
That’s why Political Harmony, a startup being developed under the current cycle at Project Skyway, was created. Co founders Kyle Welliver and Tyler Kent consider their website the “Match.com for politicians.”
The service is specifically aimed at college students who are interested in politics, but lack the necessary information to make educated voting decisions. Both recent grads of the University of St. Thomas, Welliver and Kent came up with the idea while they were in that very situation.
“Not only did we live it ourselves, we realized there was a lot of potential for other people to be in the same boat as us,” says Kent.
“There’s an estimated 20 million college kids in the U.S.,” adds Welliver. “It’s a pretty big market.”
The approach of is a user-friendly interface that allows users to enter their own stances on a wide variety of issues and topics, and then discover which politician best matches their views. Early on, the site will focus on the national Congressional and Presidential races, with lower-level localized seats potentially coming into play down the line.
Political Harmony rightfully puts a huge emphasis on offering a database that is free of bias, so all candidate information will be culled directly from the websites of politicians and their voting records, rather than third-party sources. Categories will be limited to “yes or no” questions that don’t leave room for slant.
As far as a profit model, the duo behind Political Harmony knows that information is money. There may be some advertising on the site, but the majority of revenue will come from selling the voter data they collect to politicians and special interest groups. College students can be difficult to poll due to low participation rates, making this site (assuming it is embraced) a valuable resource for political entities looking to connect with the vitally important youth segment.
Neither Welliver nor Kent (nor their third partner, Kevin Walker) has a tech background, so linking up with Project Skyway has been key in helping them connect with the resources necessary to put together a functional website. They hope to launch a mobile app and eventually integrate social media into the fold.
There are plenty of challenges ahead, including raising awareness (they plan a guerilla marketing approach that will involve physically going to local campuses to spread the word) and keeping people engaged during non-election years, but if they hit their desired August launch, Political Harmony will be entering the scene at a time when politics are on everybody’s mind.
When starting a business, timing can be everything.