Startup Spotlight: oVote is Making Polling Great Again

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Yes, that’s this startup’s co-founder with Hillary Clinton.

But more on that in a sec.  

As we’ve already seen, polls are and will continue to be a crucial part of this year’s political campaign season. Polling results, after all, have the ability to glare inside a population’s beliefs, allowing the consumer of those results to better appropriate their mission.

University polls and research centers don’t usually spend time on smaller groups. That’s what four Yale University graduates decided to address.

When Nick Andris was touring MBA programs, he realized student governments were forced to use Facebook to poll their peers. The poor polling method gave him the idea to build a code for an app to survey businesses, classrooms and other communities.

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The app, oVote, was created in 2015, giving communities a path toward smarter decision making by offering equal responses, cofounder Laura Fletcher said.

“We like when we feel like we matter; we like our opinions to matter,” she said. “It helps us matter more, by making us a part of the decision our communities are making, and making our communities a part of the decision we are making.”

Working on oVote alongside Andris and Fletcher are Jake Dreier and Alex Ringlein, who also come from the Yale School of Management.

These bulldogs operate their startup out of Church Street and work closely with StartupGrind New Haven Director Adam Muniz, a current Yale student.

Muniz has helped oVote forge relationships with startups in New Haven, Hartford and Stamford.

The Yale team has 2,700 users and has found that student groups and university classrooms are the company’s biggest supporters, Dreier said. They have more than doubled their users since November.

“Student groups are able to make quick decisions about what their people want, and professors are able to have student insights drive discussion,” Dreier said.

The app has received glowing reviews from student groups, classrooms and administrators who rave about its clarity and effectiveness.

“oVote is a great way for me to take the pulse of my class on key issues,” said David Bach, Associate Dean of Yale School of Management. “Students love the fact that they vote straight from their phones and don’t have to log into a clunky system.”

“The fact that students like using oVote for its social and fun applications is also an added perk,” Andris said.

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It was no surprise that oVote’s poll of Yale students revealed they supported Hillary Clinton as a presidential candidate over Donald Trump. Andris was able to relay this result to Clinton — also a Yale graduate — at a January campaign fundraiser in New York City.

“She was delighted to be the school’s top candidate, and I was thrilled to have a moment to introduce her to oVote,” Andris said.

In December, the oVote team was awarded the title of “Best Venture” in the Connecticut New Venture Competition. Guess they’re really “Making Polling Great Again.”

As oVote continues to locate their participants, Andris believes universities are expected to remain a staple of the app’s usage.

All photos courtesy of Jake Dreier.

 

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