FreedomSpeaks.com is an L.A.-based startup dedicated to taking the friction out of civic engagement. The site, a politically neutral platform for activism, allows registered users to identify and communicate with government representatives without once using a printer or stamp.
Angel investor Dale Okuno gave founders Kurt Daradics and Jason Kiesel an undisclosed sum in April 2009, and the company has already reported marked success with their first client, faith-based media conglomerate Salem Communications.
Functions run deep and wide and allow users to send letters to reps, create letters of their own, and socially share pages and letters via a good range of networks and bookmarking sites. Users can also subscribe to RSS feeds for all letters, recent letters, and most active letters.
"FreedomSpeaks' commercial-use API allows organizations to white-label our service," said Daradics. "Talkpac.com is an example. They've sent over 100,000 letters this month in their radio tax campaign."
There are a few competitors in the space, such as CapitalAdvantage, which offers online advocacy to representatives and media, and Convio, a comprehensive advocacy system. From the user side, FreedomSpeaks differentiates itself by offering more access to representatives on the micro level.
"The main point that sets us apart is the breadth of our data set," said Keisel. "We go down to the county and city level. In addition, they do have a SaaS thing they offer. If I'm signed up with Convio and I put a link on my site to send a letter, the link goes to Convio. We allow an embed, which makes the whole process smoother for users and consolidates traffic for clients."
"We're also set up to integrate with social media," Keisel continued. "We currently have integration with Twitter and are working with Facebook, MySpace, and the other social networks. Complete integration will follow in the coming months."
Money and politics combine to form an issue no less confounding and controversial than that of monetization and startups.
Although user accounts are free, the site charges politicians a monthly fee to maintain a custom profile. Fees run along a sliding scale that ranges from $1,000 per month for federal politicians to $100 per month for city representatives. The site also uses display ads as a revenue stream and sells non-identifying demographic data to news organizations, research firms, and marketing agencies.