DemLabs blog

Canvass better with smarter software

Why do so many progressive campaigns in the real world still use yesterday's technology? Campaigns over-spend on out-of-date software. Startups struggle to get new apps to candidates. Training is spotty.  We can do better.

DemLabs has engaged with campaigns, tech firms and political groups for over a year to learn what technology is needed and what's already available. We've piloted new tech and media approaches into campaigns. We've seen how hard it is for startups to sell solutions to progressive groups. How is it that startups in the commercial sector can innovate, get funding, grow rapidly and offer users better and cheaper apps? What can be learned from the business sector to streamline the flow of innovation?

1. The progressive ecosystem is fragmented with multiple gatekeepers and decision makers.
2. Funds are tight and spending is seasonal with the election cycles making it hard for many vendors to revise their apps.
3. Campaigns are tight on time, funds and the technical expertise needed to evaluate new solutions.
4.Campaign consultants often use what they know, which may not be the most cost effective and successful for current campaigns.
5. Software vendors are usually small with meager funding and limited sales resources.

1. A scalable approach to get new technology to progressive campaigns through the institutions they already work with and they trust.
2.  Startups focus on developing apps and use a distribution channel to supplement their own direct sales.
3.  Upfront investment needs and ongoing cost of sales are lowered.
4.  Centralized product training and support lowers costs further and speeds the rollout of innovative new solutions.

Two commercial distribution hubs
Apple App Store - makes it easy to learn about and purchase thousands of apps

CDW - training and support for hundreds of more complex software products

How this model applies to politics
DemLabs streamlines the distribution of apps to progressive campaigns by working in conjunction with groups supporting multiple candidates. This lets national and state groups, advocacy groups and PACs offer their candidates better, cost-effective solutions to run better campaigns. We identify core campaign needs and then find the best existing solutions to meet those needs. Solutions are first tested in campaigns and then shared broadly. This allows software vendors to supplement their own sales efforts with help (at no charge) from the DemLabs network of partners. Customers purchase apps directly from the vendor, along with training and support from DemLabs. Two solutions that have been rolled already with this approach include:
Social Media monitoring  - to help campaigns collect real-time intelligence of what their voters issues and sentiment (Utilisocial)
Grassroots video collection  - app for campaigns to collect video clips from their supporters and amplify through social media. (FlipGrid)Better technology is an equalizer. It enables more good candidates run for office even with little funding and  lowers a campaign's fund-raising needs. Drop us a line if you'd like to learn about other solutions in the pipeline - or if you know of good app that needs distribution. The progressive front lines should always have the best tools!

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DemLabs applies innovative technology and storytelling tools in service of democratic values. It lowers the barrier of funding for worthy candidates and non-profits by applying existing free/affordable solutions.