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Politics / Startups

Former congressional hopeful Sean Bielat’s new path: One Click Politics

Sean Bielat ran twice for Congress. Now with One Click Politics, he's finding success at connecting advocacy groups and policymakers — digitally.

Signs from Sean Bielat's first congressional campaign, Oct. 30, 2010. (Photo by Flickr user WBUR, used under a Creative Commons license)
Sean Bielat may seem like a typical 39-year-old CEO living comfortably in Hockessin with his family. But what’s unexpected about Bielat is his interesting career path and how he ended up in Delaware.

He graduated from Georgetown. Then he served four years of active duty in the Marines. Then he moved to Boston and studied at Harvard. He worked in management at McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm. From there, he moved to iRobot and later became director of business development. Along the way, he received an MBA from the Wharton School of Business.

(Photo courtesy of Sean Bielat)

And if that wasn’t enough to fill a résumé, Bielat ran for Congress — not once, but twice — in 2010 and 2012 on the Republican ticket in Massachusetts.
While Bielat was hopeful about a career in politics, some of his colleagues from McKinsey & Company were working on creating a way for organizations and everyday citizens to effectively contact congressmen, senators, local politicians and policy makers. In 2010, One Click Politics — a web platform that would do this very thing — was formed.
Bielat later joined the organization as CEO.
“The mission of enabling more people to get in touch with the political process was very appealing,” Bielat said. “It merged my interest in entrepreneurship and my interest in public policy. Since then, it’s been a lot of fun and we’ve done some good.”
One Click Politics, Bielat said, officially launched earlier this year. A website specifically designed for the everyday citizen will be unveiled this fall.
His organization — which is comprised of half-a-dozen designers and developers working remotely — works mostly with nonprofit organizations. But they’ve also cornered the market on ridesharing giants Uber and Lyft.
Let’s take their client Uber, for example.

(Courtesy of One Click Politics)

Bielat said that company has a strong need to influence local policy because of lobbying efforts by cab companies, which are pushing for more regulations. Uber has a need, he said, to aggregate local interest and support.
For clients, One Click Politics builds widgets that you traditionally see on a websites. These interactive widgets allow site visitors to craft a letter to the appropriate person in political power. The user can specify which politicians they want their message sent to. One Click Politics manages how these messages reach the recipients. Each message also includes the user’s name, address and email address, which provides more robust data to the people in power, Bielat said.
Bielat compared the service One Click Politics is providing to an everyday petition. Typically, he said, one person can start a petition online, get, say 1,000 signatures and show up to a political office with those 1,000 signatures. But at the end of the day, Bielat said, it’s just a list of 1,000 names with no way to correspond with those who signed the petition. A list of 1,000 signatures may easily get lost in the trash, he said.
But through One Click Politics, those in power receive 1,000 individual responses with names, addresses and contact information. The politician or someone on his or her staff now has the ability to contact someone who had a question or concern, unlike the traditional list of signatures.
One Click Politics, Bielat added, maintains a non-partisan stance.
“People view the world from one of two lenses. But I think it’s healthy to voice an issue without worrying about where things fall in partisan terms,” he said. “In many cases, I had a lot of support for my ideas, but not for my party.”
With Bielat based near Wilmington and six staffers working remotely, he tries his best to collaborate with his team, but notes it’s harder to foster spontaneous collaboration. He said there are plans to hire an additional developer, with more positions along the way. He’s considering hiring specifically from the Wilmington and Philadelphia region, he said, in the hopes that he and his team could meet a couple times a week.
“I’m interested in the coIN Loft and that was one of the places I considered for group collaborations. It’s a nice scene and there’s an interest in growing Delaware in this way. It seems like a pioneering effort,” Bielat said. “The Delaware lifestyle is more relaxed. I came from Boston where there is a different kind of population. Hockessin and Delaware — there’s a good business climate and it’s a nice lifestyle with a family focus.”

Companies: Lyft / The Loft / Harvard University / Uber / Wharton School

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