After ElectNext left the Philadelphia Media Network’s Project Liberty incubator at the beginning of the summer, the political matchmaking startup left the city.
The team is now split between the coasts, with CEO Keya Dannenbaum and Chief Design Officer Jake Wells in New York City and CTO John Mertens in San Francisco.
But the homegrown Philly startup isn’t forgetting its roots, Dannenbaum says. The political matchmaking startup is now looking local — and it’s piloting the effort right here.
“There’s no other local community we’d rather start in,” says Dannenbaum, who founded the company while she was at Wharton.
- ElectNext no longer has a single headquarters. Though Dannenbaum herself is in New York City’s coworking spot General Assembly, she stresses that the startup doesn’t think of any city as a headquarters. The team is split up between three cities. Mertens, the startup’s CTO, works in San Francisco, while Dave Zega, the new National Director of Local Communities, has set up shop in Philly’s Indy Hall. The company is building out its staff in each base, according to its jobs site. Dannenbaum says she also recently hired a developer to work in ElectNext’s Philly office.
- It now has paying customers. ElectNext counts several big name publications as partners, including The Washington Post, PBS NewsHour and NBC Politics. The site also reached more than 1 million unique visitors so far this month (counting its partner organizations and not solely ElectNext.com), according to a recent release, and has seen over 1,000 percent growth in the past four months.
- It’s diving into local politics. Led by Zega, the effort will focus on issues and not just candidates. Zega says ElectNext aims to be the place people turn to when they want to get involved with local issues. It hopes to partner with organizations big and small, like the political watchdog group Committee of Seventy and local civic associations. There’s a “huge data divide” at the local level, says Zega, who’s worked on two local political campaigns. “We wanted to bridge that.” Zega, 31, lives in Southwest Center City (his civic association is the South of South Neighborhood Association, or SOSNA, for short) and came to Philly for grad school at Penn.
As for leaving Philly, Dannenbaum says the relocations were driven by practicality and convenience. Much of ElectNext’s business development work is media-facing, and New York City is a media hub, she says, while Mertens, a former Code for America fellow, can be immersed in the West Coast developer world over in San Francisco.
ElectNext also made the move to be closer to its primary investor, Brooklyn Bridge Ventures, Dannenbaum says. There was also a personal reason for the move: Dannenbaum’s husband now works in Connecticut, where they now both live.
Updated 4:33 10/25/12 to clarify that ElectNext’s 1 million unique hits include its partner organizations like Philly.com, Washington Post, etc.
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