The last two presidential elections in the United States have demonstrated the growing influence of technology in politics. Barack Obama’s consecutive victories were made possible, in large part, by his campaign’s ability to connect with a demographic of voters through social, local and mobile.
Recognizing a timely need, Burnsville-based developer Tiny Mission created a mobile app specifically designed for political campaigns. Tiny Candidate launched about a year and a half ago, and is quickly gaining international traction.
Their first client for the product was an Australian Parliament campaign.
“We were surprised. We knew nothing about Australian politics at the time,” says Tiny Mission account director Camilo Pineda with a laugh. “Since then it’s just been growing and growing.”
They’ve had some usage here in the States with congressional and gubernatorial races, but many of their customers are coming from abroad, in countries like Brazil, Italy, Canada and Panama. Interest in Central and South America has been so great that they have translated their website into Spanish and Portuguese for those regions.
The functionality of Tiny Candidate includes everything that you’d find in a traditional campaign website — biography, events, news, social media aggregation — all optimized for mobile. The app also takes advantage of push notification technology to engage users on a deeper level, triggering actions such as sharing messages, “liking” updates or contacting local representatives.
“People who download the app feel that they’re part of the campaign and contributing,” says Pineda.
Tiny Mission’s business model has largely involved developing apps for clients, but the company has worked on several external projects and Tiny Candidate has been among the most successful. They’ve monetized the app by licensing it to agencies and selling it to campaigns, with prices varying based on the potential voter count.
While the international market has been a boon for their growth, Pineda sees plenty of potential domestically, noting that the US election industry spends $6 billion per year, and that increasingly campaigns are trying to figure out the best ways to engage voters through mobile.
Still, he can’t help but marvel at the app’s unexpected global reach.
“It’s crazy to see something from our little company in Burnsville involved in campaigns in Guam and the far reaches of the planet.”