Chicago startup BallotReady, which aims to help voters make more informed decisions, announced Wednesday that it has raised $1.5 million in a seed round that will help the company expand its service to all 50 states by the fall midterm elections.
Investors in the round include InvestHER Ventures, Wakestream Ventures, New Media Ventures, Hard Yaka and Grubhub CEO Matt Maloney.
As part of the new funding, the startup is bringing on Mike Saunders as its new chief technology officer. He is the founder of online food ordering and delivery company Dotmenu, which he sold to Grubhub in 2011.
BallotReady, founded by Alex Niemczewski and Aviva Rosman in 2015, has created a platform that gives people information about candidates up and down their ballot, particularly in local elections. The startup, which was also one of Chicago Inno’s 18 startups to watch in 2018, says that it has more comprehensive data on local elections than the RNC and DNC. During the Illinois primary in March, BallotReady’s voter guide reached 7 percent of all the state’s voters.
“There is enormous interest around the upcoming 2018 midterms,” Niemczewski, CEO, said in a statement. “We are excited to be nationwide this fall, helping voters make their voices heard beyond the major races and deep into their community leadership, creating change at every level.”
BallotReady received foundational support from the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics and won the college’s Social New Venture Challenge in 2015. The startup’s advisory board is led by David Axelrod, known for being the chief strategist for Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns, and Mike Murphy, a political consultant who has advised politicians like John McCain and Jeb Bush.
“Across the country there are over 500,000 local elected officials,” Niemczewski said. “We think there’s a huge opportunity to help voters choose the next half million, hold them accountable, and make democracy work the way it should.”