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Empowrd Lets Your Voice Be Heard

by Muriel Vega

In today’s world of social media and 24/7 news, it’s easy to access information, but it’s not always easy to have your voice heard by the right people. Getting in front of the right person can make all the difference for your community. Empowrd, an app designed to help you address advocacy in real time, lets you contact your elected officials and create an open forum for your issues.

In 2015, Horace Williams founded Empowrd on the single philosophy that government should be simple and accessible to anyone and everyone. “I’m passionate about the business of politics and seeks to simplify its operations for all people, providing an opportunity for everyone to participate in an effective way that yields the results they have always desired but could never achieve,” says Williams.

Now, the startup has six full-time employees and it’s looking for more funding to expand further. It currently manages data for over ten thousand elected officials across the country.

With less than a month away until the elections, having easy access to your community and state leaders can empower your community — regardless of political leanings. Learn how Williams hopes to impact communities and enterprises through his app and why Atlanta is the perfect spot to start with.

screenshot_20160704-003202Your Pitch: (150 word or less co. description)

Empowrd simplifies government and enables citizens to be the most valuable part of the political process by simplifying their ability to influence it.

Funding or bootstrapped: (if funded- what is your funding history, if looking- what are you looking for… dollar amount, type of investor experience)

To this date, Empowrd has raised approx. $220,000, $72,000 was raised in a pre-valuation round from outside Angels, and the remainder was invested by its founder (Horace Williams). Currently raising $1M at a $3M valuation. Seeking investors interested in Social Enterprise companies, the evolution of civic and political technology, and G\government data acquisition, management and analyzation.

What problem are you solving?

Empowrd increases the value of constituents by better enabling them to participate effectively in democratic processes. That new-found value is then leveraged by corporations and organizations for advocacy and political mobilization efforts, helping them work through political hurdles that traditional lobbying effort fail to penetrate, while also building brand advocacy by incentivizing their customers at mass to activate politically on their behalf. 

That improved constituent value is also derived by automating their government engagement efforts. This makes it easier and far more cost effective for government agencies and elected officials to efficiently manage quality of life responsibilities for those they serve. In addition, agencies and officials gain access to jurisdiction based data with improved accuracy and insights resulting from increased engagement by a larger set of those whom they represent.

Please describe the market/industry impact:

screenshot_20160704-003506-1As a whole, the lack of quality constituent engagement forces companies, organizations, government agencies & elected leaders to circumvent those who are most important to the services they provide everyday in order to meet some level of efficiency, therefore utilizing costly and ineffective alternatives to push their efforts and agendas. 

Corporations use lobbyist to influence legislation, a multibillion dollar investment with 60% failure rate and negative brand perception amongst its customers who feel left out of the process by a “greedy/selfish company”. 

Elected officials and candidates currently use antiquated means of constituent engagement and targeting within their jurisdictions. Data used today to gauge constituent need is the result of people who are historically engaged which continues to get worse each cycle because there is no effective way to increase the amount of people who are engaged, therefore elected leaders are only engaging those they have access too. On the other side of that issue, those who engage elected leaders in many cases are engaging them on the wrong topics (in many cases using tools such as change.org, next-door, face book groups, etc.) which is not only a waste of time for an elected official but also negatively impacts their public persona and brand.

Revenue Model:

For Constituents and most elected officials the app is free, the key is to have them both in a single place where they can engage each other frequently. We license our app to businesses who need to manage regional or interregional advocates and advocacy efforts while activating and monitoring large mobilization efforts. We also leverage our technology to support government Agencies in their efforts to manage constituent issues within their jurisdictions.

How’d you get the idea for it?

screenshot_20160704-003542-1A combination of reasons lead to the creation of Empowrd. My father (Horace Sr.) was an influencer and leader in his community in my hometown of Brooklyn, NY where he often served as a link between those who represented our communities politically, and those whom they were responsible for representing. He was a knowledge base of how to navigate and influence local and national government. He is the personification of what I wanted Empowrd to be, a middleman that helped everyone whose life was not dedicated to civic service but still be Empowrd to leverage the basic rights of living in a democratic society.

Empowrd also came as a result of my 10+ year, extensive background in social (media) technology during which I witnessed how powerful it can be if consumers and businesses are brought closer together. I envisioned the same power could be unveiled in a new form, in advocacy and legislative efforts, if businesses and organizations could incentivize or enlighten people to act politically on their behalf.

Who are your competitors and how do you stand out?

Our main competitors fall on one of three corners of the spectrum: they attempt to provide businesses, organizations, and elected officials with constituent data and targeting strategies (Votebuilder, or Nation Builder); they provide a mechanism for unstructured one-way communication to those in power without really opening a line of communication or educating the masses that are engaging (Change.org, Nextdoor, Facebook); or lastly, they make an attempt at creating a community that focuses on civic matters where elected leaders, interests, and advocacy efforts are discussed and logged, but no real line of actionable communication is created amongst or between all the stakeholders involved (Brigade, ICitizen).

Empowrd stands out because we incorporate all of the above, both today and in the future, the Empowrd platform will enable individuals and communities to have two-way engagement amongst themselves and those who represent them.

How does ATL weave into your story?

Our company was founded in Atlanta and is operated out of Atlanta. Georgia was a perfect starting point for our data aggregation efforts because it provided the perfect mix of circumstance and diversity of both its people and its issues to serve as a base model for how we expand into other states.

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