With a mission to “make politics more simple,” two Penn graduate students are creating a startup that helps voters discover candidates who hold political views in line with their own.
ElectNext, founded by MBA student Keya Dannenbaum and PhD candidate in classics Paul Jungwirth, will ask users questions that reveal their political preferences and then match them with like-minded candidates in local and national elections.
They will gradually roll out ElectNext next month and hope to have a public launch by November, a year before the 2012 presidential election and several months ahead of the Democratic and Republican primaries.
“Our primary focus is to get more voters” to use the site, Dannenbaum said. “We’re excited for this to launch in advance of 2012.”
The founders held a “feedback forum” in New York on Monday for members of the UPenn & Wharton Venture Community, a group of Penn students and alumni interested in entrepreneurship, to demonstrate their website and solicit input.
Matt Myers, a 2001 Wharton graduate who organizes the Venture Community and attended the feedback forum, compared ElectNext’s matchmaking between voters and candidates to the service provided by online dating sites, saying that “the closest thing to the site is OKCupid.”
Its founders also use a similar analogy to describe ElectNext, dubbing it “the eHarmony for American elections.” They’re even looking to online dating sites for inspiration for a revenue model, as they said they’re wary of allowing political advertisements to corrupt the informative nature of the website.
“The standard racket for dating websites is they show you your mates and charge to contact them,” Jungwirth said. Similarly, one possible revenue stream for ElectNext is to charge candidates for connecting voters to their campaigns. They’re also considering selling data generated from the questions on political preferences to campaigns.
“There were some good questions and some good insight,” Nashad Haq, who attended the feedback forum, said of the event. “[ElectNext’s] revenue model is still not clear, but there’s a lot of potential. They’re focused on building a good product, which is the most important thing.”Comments powered by Disqus
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