On the cover it would seem entrepreneurs and politicians have little in common. One creates value in the economy, the other, um, I’ll refrain from any bashing of politicians. But both entrepreneurs and politicians have a lot to potentially gain in the drawn-out election season leading up to November 2008.
In college I decided senior year that since I’d taken a lot of poli sci courses largely by accident (I hate politics), I might as well make a minor of it to make my resume look semi-respectible. I only needed one more course. The problem was that to be a poli sci minor, you had to have taken poli sci 100, “National Politics in the United States”. This class was designed for for freshmen who somehow missed Schoolhouse Rock’s How a Bill Becomes a Law in elementary school. About half of the class was spent just following what happened in the news that day, and since it was the 2004 presidential election season, we spent a lot of time learning about the candidates. One of our assignments was to evaluate candidates on several criteria which included how many Meetup groups were created to support them.
What’s Meetup.com? I didn’t know until I had to use it for class! (No surprise, Meetup CEO Scott Heiferman was one of the first guests I snagged for Venture Voice.) Meetup was built as a platform for any kind of local meeting, and I don’t even think political Meetups were top of mind for Scott anymore than knitting Meetups (though he somehow snagged former U.S. Senator and basketball player Bill Bradley for his board of directors). But political organizers, who have lots of time on their hands and little resources, took to Meetup in droves. The press, always hungry for a good election season story, licked it up. And apparently the professors did too.
I’m now a member of a few Meetup group, but none of them are political Meetup groups. However, had it not been for Meetup wooing the political junkies, I might never have found out about their platform.
We’ve already seen YouTube and Facebook leveraged for political causes — Often by the candidates themselves. Unlike large media companies who are cautious about where they put their content, politicians will shamelessly promote themselves on almost any platform.
I predict that we’ll see at least one now unknown startup be made by this political season. Will it be yours?