Alumni Highlight: FastDemocracy

We like to check in with our alumni when we can. FastDemocracy co-founders Antolij Gemlison and Sara Baker have taken some time to chat with us about their 2018 startup’s vision and development, and the unique ways FastDemocracy is bringing our nation’s democratic processes closer to home.

An app and website with a bifurcate target consumer base of “politically interested individuals” on the one hand and “government relationship professionals”, on the other, FastDemocracy’s niche offerings are certainly compelling. With a broad mission to “empower political newcomers and professionals to be more informed and effective, while advocating for policy change”, the tech company specializes in organizing and making accessible the seemingly-esoteric reams of policy- and legislature-related information that successful policy work requires.

A “Find Your Legislators” tool is one of the first things you’ll see when you visit the FastDemocracy website, quickly followed by a showcase of their Bill Tracking feature, designed to “help you stay up to date on bills you care about, so you can take timely action." For their Professional market, FastDemocracy offers real-time legislative and hearing alerts, “patent-pending bill similarity detection," a centralized locus for “state press releases," and much more. Noting their growing user base and action-oriented rhetoric, we were eager to discover where FastDemocracy came from, and where they are going.

The co-founders are quick to mention that in the beginning, they lacked some sales know-how. This problem was solved, however, with the humility that growth requires. FastDemocracy used money obtained through grants to “hire sales professionals” and quickly saw the returns after two years of more gradual formation: “Our revenue margins increased from $20,000 to $70,000 in a matter of months." Significant growth was supported by Capital Innovator’s accelerator programs.

FastDemocracy’s reach as a tool is one of its most impressive accomplishments. As Gemlison and Baker put it, the FastDemocracy “government analytic tool and bill tracker” whose basic functions are free for individual, non-organizational users, provides “non-profits, advocacy organizations, and legislators … fast, accurate data that enables them to spend more time advocating."

When asked which accomplishments most illuminated 2022, the co-founders reflected that: a) They continued to grow revenue b) Anitolij, FastDemocracy's “one-man shop developer” innovated “more tools with impressive functionality," and c) Customer feedback proved to be a phenomenal time-saving measure. These factors combined to provide healthy growth and an ever-improving sign-up and conversion rate.

2023 will bring the challenge of maintaining and surpassing the established momentum. The co-founders explained that they want to “keep growing the sales team, but in a consistent manner." Finding and keeping remote employees can be tough, as can the larger environment in which we all now operate: “Being new in a remote world is tricky."

When asked which problems keep the co-founders awake at night, the answer was clear: Fundraising and Continued Growth. Perhaps this is unsurprising when we review the ambitious suite of services FastDemocracy offers its professional user-clients, while still growing a strong sales team to support the vision of its four-person operating core.