For companies looking to sell into the campaign and advocacy markets, breaking in can be a challenge — so much so that even established vendors who actually develop a book of business have been known to pull up stakes.
Wolfram Labs, an incubator project that public affairs consultant Sue Zoldak unveiled at the Reed Awards & Conference earlier this week in Las Vegas, is meant to help lower these barriers to entry.
“My partners and I, we started to realize that there was a gap in our space between the people who are really innovative and want to come and sell into the space, but the political world is just notoriously difficult to break into — especially if you don’t have a political history and you’re not part of that Washington, DC culture,” Zoldak told C&E. “We want innovation. We’re craving innovation.”
Zoldak said that Wolfram Labs isn’t about helping startups just get investment. It’s actually geared towards helping get a product established in the political market.
“We’re putting together the sales pitch, the branding, the look and teaching these people the sales process,” she said. “We want to focus on people who have great ideas to make our political arena better. We want to innovate faster. Cash is not enough. Venture capital is not enough. These people have to learn to speak the language of the industry.”
With that in mind, Wolfram Labs is offering its companies things like “interim or fractional” executive staffing. Now, this requires the companies it works with to pay a retainer in either cash or an equity stake — on a sliding scale — but Zoldak is convinced the value proposition will be attractive.
“Just because you can fund it, doesn’t mean you can sell it. That is a nuance that is missing from this startup world for politics. [Other incubators] are focused on funding, but they’re not focused on marketing. We are putting the flash on it.”
The incubator already boasts its first member, advocacy platform One Click Politics, which Zoldak, who is preparing to launch her own SaaS product, says is an example of an established company that just needed a “facelift.”
The incubator is now looking for others to join its portfolio as it prepares to unveil its board of directors in the coming weeks.