Footwork enables political canvassers to plan their routes (left) and collect data (right).
Two Lincoln-based entrepreneurs have created a tool they believe can save political campaigns precious steps in the march toward election day.
Meet Footwork, a mobile application designed to make door-to-door political canvassing more efficient, enjoyable and effective with the use of technology for routing canvassers and collecting data.
Footwork was created by Tegan Snyder (far left) and Phil Montag (near left), who work together under the name Etelligence Pioneers, or Etpio. As veterans of political campaigns, Snyder and Montag have seen the need for a better way to manage the small armies of people sent door-to-door visiting with constituents on behalf of campaigns.
“Having worked part-time on political campaigns doing website development, database administration and analysis, and managing extensive door-to-door canvasses, we saw a need for a mobile application that could replace the traditional clipboard and paper in door-to-door political canvassing,” Snyder said in an email interview.
So Snyder and Montag formed a partnership in February, and they launched a beta version of Footwork in March. Not long after, they landed their first campaign as a beta tester. To date, Footwork has worked with five candidates in various races across the state of Nebraska.
For canvassers, the app provides a route-planning tool, which ideally eliminates inefficient and confusing paths through unfamiliar neighborhoods. The app also replaces the cumbersome, old record-keeping tools of clipboard and paper with a smartphone.
For people organizing canvassers, Footwork provides real-time metrics that aim to ensure canvassers are actually covering their turf. The app also enables automated email alerts to keep canvassers updated on their performance.
Campaigns pay one cent per voter imported and one cent per door knocked on by canvassers using the app. That pricing structure, Snyder says, makes the app affordable to campaigns of all sizes.
Up against apps like NGP VAN’s MiniVAN Touch and Moonshadow’s Ground Game, Footwork is hardly running uncontested in the race for preeminent mobile canvassing app. But Snyder said Etpio’s offering presents a couple of distinct advantages.
First, it’s supported by most major mobile platforms, including iOs, Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry. Second, it doesn’t rely on the Google Maps API. “Instead of using the Google Maps API, Footwork’s administrator’s console allows campaign staff to eyeball a neighborhood and select a logical route,” he said. “Once deployed, Footwork guides the canvassers from house to house in a route that doesn’t yield the unusual routing that Google Maps API often provides.”
Footwork also includes a Facebook integration (and soon a Twitter integration), so when canvassers hit the pavement, updates on their progress hit the news feed (below). “This gives volunteers a sense of accomplishment,” Snyder said, “and generates viral interest in the campaign activity.”
Snyder and Montag both have full-time jobs, but Synder said that they’ve worked 40-plus hours per week on Footwork and that their ambitions are for Etpio to become more than a side project.
“Our long-term goal is to become the premier political campaign software company on the market,” Snyder said, “and eventually offer other software such as social media targeting, fundraising, predictive dialing, and advanced voter modeling research and reporting software.”