A San Francisco-based startup that began life as a non-partisan vendor is now working exclusively with Democrats and has integrated its platform with that side’s largest vendor.
Hustle launched its services in 2015 and while it was an early partner with NGP VAN, the companies were competitors. In fact, in June 2016 NGP VAN unveiled an automated email service within VAN that was meant to compete with Hustle.
Now, the two are fully integrated partners and Hustle’s executives say they have no plans to work with the Republicans.
“We made that shift. We realized the importance of what we were going,” said Perry Rosenstein, a co-founder of the firm who worked on Obama 2008. “It happened sometime officially in 2016. It just became clear what we were doing was really important work, and we wanted to partner with the folks whose values we shared. This was the best way to do it.”
The NGP-VAN-Hustle tie up, which means the peer-to-peer messaging platform is now integrated through NGP VAN’s My List tool, is the latest push by the Democrats’ largest vendor by market share to expand its mobile offerings.
The Hustle integration works like this: “Progressive campaigns and organizations that manage their targeting in NGP VAN can create and send lists to Hustle directly from My List. Organizers can then use Hustle’s optimized texting workflow to send personalized text messages.”
Meanwhile, Rosenstein said Democrats have fully embraced mobile.
“It took a lot of proving,” he said. “There were a number of hurdles we had to overcome — everything from skepticism of the legal issues, to texting to being one of the channels they weren’t used to.”
Rosenstein said the company needed to get buy in from a range of industry players: campaign data teams, fellow vendors like TargetSmart, which supplies the cellphone numbers, to the thousands of volunteers on larger campaigns who use the peer-to-peer texting service. “It takes a lot of human capacity to have this conversation.”
Hustle began life as a startup, albeit a well-funded one, but Rosenstein said the firm had no qualms about now working with the industry’s most established players.
“We reached a certain point when we just realized it would be in everyone’s best interests to be able to use Hustle from straight inside of VAN, so we began working on this partnership and got our product teams together," he said.