I had a great time talking to Eddie (@onebigstory) from Northwestern University who was working on a story about Chicago Startups and politics.
There was also some serious negativity expressed about this post on PandoDaily which compared the startup cultures of Chicago and Silicon Valley. Personally I’m tired of every other region in the country trying to make it the Silicon-something of somewhere. Chicago is Chicago. Silicon Valley is Silicon Valley. I’m sure if people in Silicon Valley tried to start making Fords and Chevys they would get laughed at for sipping too many lattes and riding bicycles all the time. The point is that America is big enough and economically diverse that the economies that produce a GroupOn vs Google vs. whatever else are precisely what makes the overall economy so dynamic.
We’re back home from SXSW. It was a a great experience for Votifi in so many ways. We highly recommend startups, founders, creatives and entrepreneurs to make an effort to attend SXSW in the future. We’ve been fortunate to land some good media over the last 10 days and here is a summary of what we got:
“With a more diverse and mobile electorate we found a potential solution in the “disconnect” by using “peer to peer” issue-based connections as a tremendously powerful avenue to bring people together and enable them to form their own political connections.”
Votifi tries to solve the problem of weighting expert opinions by ranking profiles. “We calibrate profiles based on a variety of explicit an implicit signals – its not just your answer to a single question, but rather your overall participation in the community through polls, discussions and content that builds a nuanced view of an issue,” [Aasil] Ahmad of Votifi said.
In the age of cell phones and social media, this new company is working to re-invigorate and promote voter engagement. Votifi is a new social media based, political and current events polling and networking engine — a peer-to-peer recommendation engine for political discovery.
“South by Southwest has been called the Super Bowl of social media,” said Lou Aronson, the founder of Votifi, a Bethesda, Md., company that distributes targeted political news to subscribers’ smartphones and other mobile devices. Mr. Aronson said he was thunderstruck when he learned he had been invited to take part in the Accelerator event. ”This is where start-up companies like mine go to get discovered,” he said.
“Our technology recognizes that the strength of the American political system lies in diversity of opinion, and that voters’ views are multidimensional and evolve over time. Online competitors tend to reinforce party lines or attempt to create consensus without necessary debate, and traditional political pollsters are finding it increasingly difficult to capture voters’ views in a mobile world. Votifi’s mobile polls and platform capture political views in real-time and make political content more accessible, particularly to those groups that have been traditionally underrepresented in the political process.”
[Lou] Aronson and the team over there sit right at the intersection of politics and technology, a space that DC-area startups need to occupy and occupy dominantly. When we spoke with Aronson today he seemed to share our philosophy that the ‘Age of Big Data’ is upon us, and that the implications are enormous for our political system as well as the companies that can harness and process this information.
We’re just thrilled to be invited as a finalist in the SXSW Startup Accelerator. Thanks to everyone on the Votifi team and your hard work for the last 14 months to make it this far. And we look forward to meeting all the great people down in Austin.
UPDATE: Our schedule at SXSW
1. TechCocktail StartLife Celebration When: March 10, 6:00 PM- 11:00 PM – Where: Stage on Sixth, 508 East 6th Street Austin TX,78701 What: Party, party, party and meet startups. Expect > 3,000 people to come through. Probably snag lots of free stuff too. We’ll be at our booth, and we’re running a contest to win a free Lytro Camera. Come by. Sign up. Win!
When: March 12-13 Where: Hilton Austin 4th Floor Startup Village What: Our first round pitch in the Social Media Social Networking category is on Monday between 11:00 and 12:00 AM in Salon A. Doors Open 10:30 AM. Each pitch is 2 minutes followed by 10 minutes of Q&A
3. “An Unusual Arsenal: Tech Tools to Topple a Tyrant” Aasil Ahmad, Votifi co-founder and COO is a panelist When: March 12, 12:30 PM Where: Convention Center Room 9ABC What: When the Internet goes black, as it did Jan. 27, how do revolutionaries access these invaluable social channels to communicate, mobilize and ultimately overthrow an unjust government? How do citizens in radio silence tune into the rest of the world – without incurring the wrath of their government? What are the tools behind the tools that every revolutionary should include in his tool kit? And why should you care? #sxsw #overthrow
4. Startup America Panel on the impact of Mobile and politics Not confirmed yet, possible on Tuesday 12:30 PM , location TBC We’ll keep you posted