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This Startup Helps Track Everything Happening on Capitol Hill


Kelsey Pommer, Manager, Digital Media, Consumer Technology Association (CTA)

So much happens in our nation’s capital on a daily basis, from hearings to the introduction of new bills. Keeping track of all that information is nearly impossible — until now. Quorum, a Consumer Technology Association (CTA) startup member, has created a technology that allows users to track the data coming from Washington, D.C.
 
We had a chance to speak to their team:
 
How did you first get the idea for Quorum? What problem were you trying to solve when you created the business?
The idea for Quorum began when cofounder Alex Wirth spent a summer during college taking more than 60 meetings on Capitol Hill in an attempt to build bipartisan support for a Presidential Youth Council.

Alex quickly realized how challenging it is for advocates and organizations to influence the legislative process. He returned to Harvard the next year and shared his frustration with his roommate, and now cofounder, Jonathan Marks. Jonathan, a computational biochemistry major, realized it was possible to use computer science to make influencing the legislative process easier and more effective. They set off across Washington, D.C., seeking advice and input from hundreds of government affairs professionals, elected officials and legislative staff that informed the development of Quorum.  

Quorum’s goal is to enable anyone to influence the legislative process. They do this by providing a series of tools that allow people to track everything that is happening on the Hill and in all 50 state capitals, using quantitative analytics to identify who is active on an issue and who legislators work with most frequently. Quorum also provides powerful outreach tools that make it easy for citizens to contact their elected officials.

How does Quorum work?
Quorum’s algorithms aggregate every piece of publicly available data, including bills, tweets, Facebook posts, press releases, floor statements and census data, into a single database where it is possible to run search queries of issues and receive email alerts on keywords.

Quorum then takes this information and provides a powerful analytics layer to be able to examine trends, generate word clouds and identify who is talking about an issue the most in addition to statistics about legislators’ relationships, effectiveness and top issues.

Finally, Quorum’s outreach tools allow consumers to look up information about legislators and their staff and send email messages, tweets and Facebook posts all in a mobile-friendly site, making it easy for advocates to take action on-the-go.
 
How can your products help government affairs professionals in D.C?
Quorum makes it easier to influence the legislative process by putting all of the information government affairs professionals need in one place, adding analytics to make sense of the data and then adding tools to put those insights into action.

Before Quorum, governments affairs professionals had to use one mobile app to look up congressional staff contact information, another system to email members and staffers on the Hill, a different platform for bill tracking at the state and federal levels, and yet another for economic impact data. This caused frustration and inefficiency for advocates.

With Quorum, for the first time, every tool a government affairs team needs is accessible from one login, giving teams unprecedented ease of use and comprehensive insights. Every piece of data seamlessly integrates into the Quorum platform — logged meetings lie alongside economic impact data, legislative effectiveness statistics, and activity from grassroots supporters, giving professionals the ability to coordinate and manage public affairs efforts from across town or across the country like never before.


What is the most challenging part of beginning a startup?
The most challenging part of beginning a startup is finding good talent. Startups are built on teams of skilled, intelligent and creative people. We have worked exceptionally hard to build an incredible team, although it wasn’t always easy.

We’re excited to see our company continue to grow, and we are always looking for new talented individuals to join our business and product development teams.


The most rewarding?
It is most rewarding to see how members of Congress use our data and insights to shape how they legislate and to see journalists draw on our legislative statistics and analysis to discuss the political process.

For instance, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy has said that he relies on our platform to quickly find congressional records to better inform his policymaking and how he communicates about the House of Representatives. It is also always exciting to see our data help inform journalism, such as Times piece on Congress’ reaction to mass shootings, The Washington Posts analysis of Republican legislators dominating the majority of state legislatures, and The New York Times story explaining how legislative records show female U.S. Senators are better dealmakers than their male counterparts.


You recently joined CTA. Can you tell us why you chose to join and what you are looking forward to with your membership?
We joined CTA for the opportunity to engage with other innovators and entrepreneurs, share best practices and collectively advocate to make entrepreneurship easier for everyone.

Some of the best advice we received while building our business has come from other entrepreneurs, and CTA has done an amazing job at convening innovators and providing a space to share ideas. We also appreciate CTA's leadership on Capitol Hill in advocating for immigration reform and for much-needed policies that make it easier to start a company.

Our team is looking forward to next year’s CES and the amazing energy that is there every year!
 
Learn more about our amazing CTA members at CTA.tech/membership.

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