I met Nick Mastronardi about two and half years back when he was pitching his then fledging company at a competition here in Bryan, TX. In the years since, Nick and I have had regular conversations about the progress of POLCO and he's become familiar with V-REEL thinking. As we started our conversation, I asked Nick how POLCO is creating value and rareness in the market.
"We are bringing together two sides of a market much like an AirBNB but in our case we're connecting citizens and local governments so that they can better communicate with each other and so we create value for both sides," he said.
POLCO's system verifies the identify of individual poll participants against local voter records or other records, so the municipality knows it's hearing from citizens. Importantly, POLCO ensures that identities remain anonymous and never shares individual data with municipalities or third parties. Because POLCO ensures each individual is only able to cast a single vote and comment, it is able to deliver verified, aggregated results that are very meaningful to the local government. But the government isn't the only customer.
"We are trying to create a level playing field where citizens see what issues are on the table, participate and get involved," he said
This may seem frivolous, after all, citizens speak up all the time on social media outlets, right? And, of course, there are the traditional public meetings, letters to the editor, and such. So, what's valuable and rare about what Matt and his team are offering?
"Much of what's available for citizen engagement today is outdated, fragmented, and may very well cause only the bold and outspoken voices to be heard," Matt said.
My gut sense is Matt's right. There is a hunger for this civic engagement; a desire to get away from social media and all of the online mess that you just cannot trust, cut through the noise, and know what people really think.
A platform for meaningful engagement seems to be both valuable and rare in the market. POLCO has strong potential for distinctive competencies today and into the future. So we continued through the V-REEL Framework to talk eroding factors.
"At the point when we were featured by the National League of Cities as the future of civic engagement there were three of us working on the project," he said.
POLCO started small...very small. The company has grown since then but they are still a relatively small team and, like most entrepreneurs in start-up mode, they have had to work really hard to get the company going.
In our regular conversations, I've often asked Nick how he is doing but I must applaud him for striking the balance and taking care of himself. As founder, he remains a critical resource for the company. Nick recognized this and addressed potential personal eroding factors by taking time for outdoor activities, family, and wellness in general.
So what about longevity? The relationships POLCO is building, the intangibles of trust and reputation, and good performance make for strong distinctive competencies that, if continually developed, only get stronger over time. POLCO is using V-REEL to be sure they remain aware of and address eroding factors, putting enablers in place. And, they are forming strategic partnerships. All of this is coming together to make for strong potential longevity.
Listen in to our conversation on the podcast to learn from Nick's insights into entrepreneurship, value creation and what it takes to make it in the marketplace. You'll also to hear about a really interesting company that is improving civic engagement. You might even find out that POLCO is already a resource in your own hometown.
Posted on Tue, February 20, 2018
by David Flint