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Innovation & Job News

BlastRoots closes angel round, partners with Kudos

Business is growing for BlastRoots, an online political advocacy platform based in the District. The company, helmed by Christopher Hull, just closed a $250,000 angel round of funding and is in talks with potential investors for a Series A round. The company hired a senior consultant in May to help with strategic partner outreach. And it entered into a partnership with Kudos to be able to accept monetary donations on the platform.
The surge in business comes, Hull believes, because the advocacy market (money spend on lobbying and campaigning) is ripe for disruption. "People are angry because the government doesn't seem to be responsive to them anymore," he explains, "and I think they're right." A March Gallup poll indicated that 20 percent of Americans surveyed said "dissatisfaction with government is the most important problem [facing the nation], the highest percentage mentioning that issue since late May/early June 1974, a few months before Richard Nixon resigned as president due to the Watergate scandal."
BlastRoots offers five different avenues to reach elected officials: petition, email, Twitter, Facebook and an old-school letter. Those are the free services offered by the site; for activists who want more help, BlastRoots has custom paid services that involve posting on an official's Facebook page, generating phone calls and generating revenue for the cause. Anyone can post an issue on BlastRoots, and causes listed on the site are being advocated at the national, state and local level.
Hull sees the public's participation in advocating for any issue on a spectrum, and recommends "multi-tactic campaigns that cater to as many people as possible." On the bottom end, there is the "slacktivist," who spends very little time on an issue but is happy to like a cause on Facebook or retweet a message. Email is a step up, as it takes more time. Printing out a hard copy of a letter, and signing and mailing it take even more time but have more impact than a retweet. And the pinnacle, Hull explains, is a phone call.
"You have to care," he says, to pick up the phone. "They're counting phone calls on Capitol Hill."
In the future, Hull would like BlastRoots to become a "Kickstarter for K Street, allowing people to go beyond communication and to begin to donate money to be able to enter the public affairs market." He sees this as a way to run issue campaigns rather than political campaigns. The big dream is for the causes on BlastRoots to raise enough money to hire a lobbyist who works for those causes.
"The original petition is 17th century technology," Hull says. "[Petitions] aren't necessarily effective with elected officials anymore."

Read more articles by Allyson Jacob.

Allyson Jacob is a writer originally hailing from Cincinnati, Ohio, and is the Innovation and Job News editor for Elevation DC. Her work has been featured in The Cincinnati Enquirer and Cincinnati CityBeat. Have a tip about a small business or start-up making waves inside the Beltway? Tell her here.
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