Bring Obama’s Tech Targeting to your Startup…

Grassroots Unwired was started 2 years ago by a veteran Democratic political insider named Russ Oster.  He was continually amazed to see that the state of the art technology for door-to-door canvassing was simply pencil and paper, with the occasional clip board. That’s when he decided to automate the process and build one of the coolest location aware apps I have ever seen.

Grassroots Unwired brings the real-time voter targeting used by campaigns like Obama’s in 2012, to door-to-door selling efforts for traditional businesses. (Even though I am on the other side of the political aisle, I must admit that the data advantage in the 2012 election was perhaps insurmountable.)

In 2012, Grassroots Unwired knocked on 1.7 million doors. That data was used in real-time by the district campaign managers and others who needed access. During the course of the campaign many local sales companies (think Groupon-like), asked if they could use the same product. The company is now in beta with its first non-political start-ups.

This is trend of political data and targeting coming to Silicon Valley start-ups is going to continue. Can’t wait to see what happens next.


One comment

  1. Interesting observation about innovation going from DC->SF, Paul. My experience has been that the data often collected on users by many online companies tends to be (understandably) bucketed at very broad levels except for the most monetizable categories (e.g. you can retarget users based on specific brands of autos of interest, but not on specific movies of interest). I haven’t seen the data that Obama’s team used, but it seemed like it had a much more granular level to it, given that they were able to target people’s specific concerns on specific rerun tv shows. Maybe the buckets that behavioral targeters put us in will get granular relatively quickly, even outside of purchasing behavior, as these applications of data become more common.

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