A new accelerator for startups on the right is putting $25,000 into six companies ranging from an artificial intelligence-based analytics venture to the social media platform Pundit.
“Over the next twelve weeks, these companies will go through our accelerator program consisting of workshops, market research, and mentorship while rapidly improving their products in preparation for next year’s elections,” Startup Caucus said in its announcement.
The group noted that “Liberals have invested millions in projects like Higher Ground Labs and New Media Ventures” and its first round of investment will help Republicans “close the gap.”
Startup Caucus was launched in August and had an open application window until Sept. 13. Its initial goal was to fund six early-stage political tech companies. That goal came to fruition on Wednesday with the unveiling of the first cohort.
Recipients of the first investment include numinar, an app with bills itself as the “first AI-powered analytics and targeted outreach platform for political campaigns of all sizes,” Trailmapper, a “front-to-back” campaign software that’s still in beta testing, a relational organizing solution called Buzz360, Voterfied, an “engagement hub” where citizens can “vote on issues, using blockchain technology for security and privacy,” the Washington State-based software company Voter Science and Pundit, which calls itself a “political social network.”
All the recipient companies “are actively working on campaigns,” according to the announcement.
While most Republican consultants aren’t complaining about a lack of business for firms on the right, entrepreneurs haven’t had access to the same programs that progressives do. "We saw some things on the other side that we wished we had,” said Eric Wilson, managing partner of Startup Caucus, recently told C&E.
HGL and New Media Ventures both have mature incubator programs that have been funding and training technologists going back nearly a decade. In fact, the progressive political angel network NMV in July announced its latest $1.5 million round of seed funding for 17 companies and organizations operating in campaigns, advocacy, and civic engagement.
That announcement came just weeks after the Democratic startup incubator HGL revealed its latest round of investment. HGL is now planning to invest $6 million of a $10 million fund in “follow-on funding” in some of its portfolio companies over the next two years.
Now, Wilson said he’s not looking to copy the left’s incubator model. "We’re solving different problems and we have different models. … We’re looking to create a point of entry,” he said. “If I formed an agency, maybe I can work on six campaigns a cycle. But if we can create the opportunity to build really good products and services, we can reach hundreds and beyond.”