Polis founder Kendall Tucker began her professional life as a campaign secretary in local Democratic politics,” but — seeing a chance within her oneonone conversations with ordinary folks — has assembled a firm taking that shoe-leather approach to political efforts into the industry world.
The business she founded to test her thesis that Americans would welcome the return of the door-to-door salesperson three years ago is 2.5 million richer thanks to another round of financing from Initialized Capital (the finance based by Garry Tan and Reddit co founder Alexis Ohanian) and Semil Shah’s Haystack.vc.
The Boston-based company currently straddles the line between political organizing tool and brand new marketing platform — a scenario that even its creator admits is tenuous at the moment.
That tension is just exacerbated by the fact that the company is coming off one of its biggest political campaign seasons. Helping to power that the get-out-the-vote initiative for Senatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke in Texas, Polis’ software handled the campaign’s outreach campaign to 3 million voters throughout the state.
However, politically focused services and software businesses are risky. Earlier this season that the Sean Parker-backed Brigade shut down and there are rumblings that other start ups targeting political activity can follow suit.
“Basically, we got very worked up about going into the corporate space because internet has gotten really dreadful,” says Tucker. “And, by the end of the day, digital advertisements isn’t as effective as it once was.”
Customer acquisition costs in the digital advertising space are rising. For organizations such as NRG Energy and Inspire Energy (both Polis clients), the fee of acquisitions online can be just as much as $300 per person.
Polis helps identify that doors for sales people to aim and works together with organizations to spot the scripts that are most convincing for customers, according to Tucker. The business also monitors for sales success and helps to manage the process so customers are not getting too many house-calls from persistent sales people.
“We do every thing through the conversation at the door,” says Tucker. “We do targeting and we do script curation (sets from what script do you use and when does one branch out from broadcasts ) and we’ve got a open API so they can push that out and they run with it through the remainder of their marketing.”