Winter, Whitten teaming up to launch VoterTide in November
The homepage of VoterTide is a placeholder for an app to be launched by Jimmy Winter, Shannon Shlappi and Gordon Whitten in mNovember. Screenshot from votertide.com.
It's nothing more than a splash page at the moment, but if I had to cast my vote for what will soon be unveiled by two Omaha entrepreneurs I'd say something interesting is in the works.
Earlier this year, RockDex founder Jimmy Winter began applying his startup's technology, a social media monitoring and analytics app for bands, to a new vertical, politics. For feedback on the idea, he called on a friend in the startup space, Gordon Whitten, founder and former CEO of Sojern. (Left, Winter, photo from rockdex.com, and right, Whitten, photo from facebook.com.)
The two met in early September. Now, less than than 60 days later, Winter and Whitten, along with RockDex co-founder Shannon Schlappi of Kansas City, are preparing to launch VoterTide in November, and they're already hitting the campaign trail. They've secured $50,000 from the State of Nebraska thanks to the recently enacted Business Innovation Act, and they just returned from trips to D.C. and NY to pitch potential users and partners. In the immediate future, they have plans to hire two employees and move into an office space.
"Things are ramping up fast," Winter told me over dinner last night.
The team is preparing to launch two products: VoterTide Pro and VoterTide. The former, with the "Pro" attached, will be similar to what RockDex offers bands but, as Winter said, "goes a lot more in-depth." Tweets, Facebook posts and shares, MySpace updates, YouTube videos, blog posts, mainstream media articles – if it's published online, VoterTide captures and analyzes it (Google+, because it has yet to offer an API, is not in the mix).
"VoterTide Pro," Winter said, "is a tool for government and campaign professionals – a person running for office, a lobbying group, a professional campaign management company – to track what's going on in the social media space about not only their own campaign and their own candidates that they're working with, but also with competing candidates."
Winter provided an example, saying that a candidate could check VoterTide Pro the day of speech to learn what people were talking about online with regards to his or her campaign and then tailor his or her speech to include that topic.
Like RockDex, VoterTide Pro will be a paid BtoB app, but they'll also be rolling out VoterTide, a free BtoC site that will show users a view of the political landscape crunched from their database of tweets, Facebook posts and shares, YouTube videos and more. "We're gathering 67,000 interactions every minute," Winter said.
With that data, they'll publish a "VoterTide Score" for each candiate. First, presidential candidates, and in the following weeks, all the way down to candidates running in state elections.
Though they don't plan to predict elections – "We're not going to be the end-all, be-all," Winter said – they hope the VoterTide Score will make waves in the political world, providing an alternative to the question, "How are they doing in the polls?"
Stay tuned to Silicon Prairie News for coverage of the VoterTide launch, and if you're in Omaha, make it to Cornstalks tonight to hear from Whitten.