Magazine article Campaigns & Elections

Votifi's Lou Aronson

Magazine article Campaigns & Elections

Votifi's Lou Aronson

Article excerpt

When mobile makes landline polling obsolete, Aronson wants to be ready.

For Lou Aronson, inspiration struck four years ago during the heat of the 2008 campaign. He listened as his neighbors traded complaints about the overwhelming number of robocalls streaming into their phones- all except one who proudly proclaimed that since he no longer had a landline, he hadn't endured a single political call all year.

"I turned to one of my neighbors, who's a political consultant, and suggested he open a mobile phone based polling company," recalls Aronson. "He laughed and told me it was the dumbest idea he'd ever heard."

Four years later, Aronson has left behind a career as an attorney to launch Votifi- a company he hopes will eventually fill a void left by traditional survey research as smartphone use continues to soar.

On the front end, Aronson pitches Votifi as a peer-to-peer network for voter engagement. Once people sign up, Votifi streamlines the user's access to political content, observing what users are reading and what they are sharing. The next step is building a profile to quantify the data- Votifi's chief scientist has developed a predictive algorithm to sort voters by issue.

"If you weight people based on issues, rather than self-identified affiliation, you begin to get a much more accurate predictor of how they're going to behave," says Aronson, who recently sat down with C&E to talk about the vision for his startup.

C&E: What's the business model here?

Aronson: We're building a community, but we don't advertise in that community. We don't sell our list to anybody, but for those who volunteer to be polled we do market that access to campaign managers and to the political industry. If the broad, overarching data holds it means that 20 percent of every dollar spent by political campaigns will be spent on research. So we're just a new methodological approach to information data capture. …

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