Startups

Meet the husband-and-wife duo taking on DC’s policy tech scene

Naeim Khanjani and Soraya Bagheri launched Electo in 2020 to create a policy software option for teams of all sizes.

Electo Analytics cofounders Soraya Bagheri and Naeim Khanjani. (Courtesy photos, graphic by Technical.ly)
Plenty of cofounders have noteworthy stories about how they decided to form a business together, but Electo Analytics CEO Naeim Khanjani has a unique asterisk to add to his company’s tale.

“Before we start, Soraya and I are married,” Khanjani said of COO Soraya Bagheri. “So we are one.”

It’s a partnership that has paid off, with the startup making major moves over in its few years of life. Cofounders Khanjani and Bagheri are the force behind Electo Analytics, a DC-based public affairs software company (and one of Technical.ly’s RealLIST Startups honorees for 2022). A 2021 Halcyon fellow, the company developed a collaborative workspace platform for policy teams across the country, connecting them to national news from the Hill all the way down to state and local policies.

When they launched the startup in 2020, Bagheri said the idea was to create a cost-effective option for policy teams of all sizes, from one- to two-person orgs to large-scale players. The platform makes workflow more efficient through legislative and regulatory tracking tools, stakeholder engagement, a concierge service to help teams find legislation, project management teams and think tanks.

So far, the growing policy tech scene has paid off for Electo. The 14-person company — over 80% of whom are women, Bagheri said — raised a $1 million seed round last year. And there’s room to grow with its target market: Electo, which is primarily built through Python, is designed for the likes of lobbyists, law firms, policy professionals and nonprofits, but it has wider applications, according to the COO.

“Anyone that has any interest and policy that’s being made of the state or federal level is a potential client or actual client of ours,” she said.

Electo Analytics is a 2021 Halcyon fellow. (Photo via @ElectoAnalytics on Twitter)

With an aim to create a policy software product that could be used by teams of any size, the cofounders also wanted to make something easy to use. They said there’s no training necessary to use the product — users can just log on and easily see the tools — which is something that was important to them in the design process.

“If it’s designed properly, you shouldn’t have [to train people]; for instance, I don’t need training to work with my LinkedIn, Facebook,” Khanjani said. “But how can we bring that design and creativity in policy work? This is what we have been trying to do.”

Electo was a DC Startup Week winner in the growth-stage category, and Khanjani was named on the Forbes Next 1000 for promising entrepreneurs in 2021. Building off this success of 2021, the pair have high hopes for the new year. Bagheri said Electo will be adding several new features and tools, and they anticipate a Series A raise toward the end of the year and hope to double the size of the team.

They also plan to build up and expand the company’s client base. Already, Bagheri said, since Electo is more cost-efficient and built for use by smaller teams, the platform has been able to give voice to some historically disadvantaged communities that didn’t have the same resources as larger organizations. And as policy becomes more prevalent among all sorts of companies of multiple industries, she sees plenty of openings for Electo.

“Everyone is realizing how much policy affects every facet of their life, and every company that exists is becoming more and more conscious that they need representation in DC or they need to have a team to be able to understand the landscape,” Bagheri said. “So we think there will be significant growth.”

As the pair heads off into their plans for 2022, one thing is clear: They’ll be doing it together.

Companies: Electo Analytics / Halcyon
Projects: Electo Analytics / Halcyon / DC Startup Week
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