We had the opportunity to hear from Jeb Ory, the co-founder of Phone2Action, a technology company based in Arlington, Virginia for civic participation and stakeholder engagement.
Tell us your story. Why did you start your business?
We founded Phone2Action to solve a problem Ximena Hartsock, my cofounder, had. She was managing advocacy campaigns and noticed that there was no way for people to take immediate action on issues they cared about. Connecting people with policy-makers is a huge problem throughout our country and the world – people want to be involved in the political process, in making the world a better place, but don’t always know where to start. We created Phone2Action to give people a voice.
Tell us about your products and services.
We make software for public policy campaigns. Organizations like the American Heart Associations or Patagonia use our technology to make it easier for their supporters and customers to play a part in the civic process, allowing supporters to email, call, Tweet, and Facebook their elected officials.
Take us through what you do for your clients.
Our clients use Phone2Action to create public policy campaigns. They will embed a Phone2Action Action Centers on their website to inform people about issues and give the tools to act, letting lawmakers know how they feel about specific policies or laws. Other times, clients use our event advocacy tool, Advocacy Live, which allows people at an event to engage on a campaign at the same time and see their participation displayed publicly on a map that updates in real time, showing people’s names and location on a map.
Who are some of the clients that you’ve worked with and what results have you had?
We work with more than 400 clients, ranging from local issue groups to social justice groups like the United Church of Christ to the Consumer Technology Association to Patagonia and Lyft. Our clients have led more than 25,000 campaigns that have generated more than 20,000,000 connections with lawmakers. Clients have won issues both large and small, from winning from city councils the freedom to operate within a city jurisdiction to major social and political issues of our day.
Where do you see advocacy in the next 3-5 years?
Advocacy will permeate every facet of our life. Imagine watching a movie or TV show about an issue, then being able to ask your TV to connect you with policy-makers so you can weigh in on the issue. We will eventually see public sentiment available to elected officials before they make any vote, so they know exactly how their constituents feel about a matter.
Where do you see your business in the next 3-5 years?
We will continue to innovate within the field of advocacy to create new, powerful ways for people to engage on things they care about. Key to this will be integrating advocacy into a virtually limitless cross-section of consumer goods and retail locations to create opportunities for people to act wherever they are.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs or business owners?
Take your time before jumping full-time into starting your company. Because when you do jump, you will need to be completely committed and focused on pushing your business forward.
Why is the DMV (Washington D.C, Maryland & Virginia) a great place to be a business owner?
- There is a density of world class colleges and universities in the DMV that give local companies access to the most educated talent pool in the world.
- Each area is committed to attracting entrepreneurs to drive the economy, so there is a plethora of strong business incentives to make operating a business in the area more cost effective
- The DMV has top notch public schools and wonderful cultural resources like the Smithsonian Museums
Any additional things to tell our readers?
Starting and growing a business is a long process. Success doesn’t happen overnight. You need to mix the long view – and a sustained vision – with short-term, execution to realize the success you are looking for.