Saturday, October 16, 2021

Don’t shy away from tough decisions

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Sabine Elsässer
Sabine Elsässer is founder and chief editor of the StartupValleyNews Magazine. She started her career at several international direct sale companys. Since 2007 she works main time as a journalist. While that time she learned more about the Startup Scene, what made her start her own Startup Magazine the StartupValleyNews.

Ecanvasser Software for organizing community outreach and field canvassing

Please introduce yourself and your startup Ecanvasser to our readers!

My name is Brendan Finucane and I am the CEO and Founder of Ecanvasser. 

Ecanvasser is a software platform that supports campaign management for political, community outreach, and advocacy organisations through our dashboard application and mobile apps. 

My own background is steeped in organising and campaigning, having always had an interest in politics growing up. During my time at University College Cork, I studied Business Information System, and this allowed me to marry my passion for organising with technology. 

How did you get the idea of Ecanvasser?

I first developed the initial concept for Ecanvasser while I was canvassing with a local campaign during my college days. After going door to door and forgetting my pen and paper while out and about, the idea to build an app that would enable better campaign organization and execution was born. It was pretty frustrating at the time that the work I was doing could be lost simply because I wasn’t able to record any data in the field. We often take for granted simple things like remembering how people feel when you speak about certain topics and issues – using tech to help record that conversation can help ensure each person feels heard. 

Why did you decide to start with Ecanvasser?

For the simple reason that I wanted to help people organize better and I wanted it to be accessible to everyone. Lowering the barrier of entry for any potential candidate or campaign was the driving force that kickstarted Ecanvasser. Showcasing the power of capturing conversations for organizers was also really important – learning more about the people you want to represent makes for a better campaign and ultimately a better leader. Listening in politics and campaigning is so important and actioning can only be done after you listen. 

What is the vision behind Ecanvasser?

Ecanvasser is a software for organising effective community outreach and field canvassing. It’s been designed for campaigns and organizations who engage communities through real conversations. Powerful mobile apps let organisers capture conversations when discussing issues with people on the ground and it is so simple that it helps anyone make an impact. You can measure your success by gaining insights on operation activity, effectiveness and campaign team performance.

How difficult was the start and which challenges you had to overcome?

I think having patience was a big challenge. When you can see a solution to a problem that people are facing globally – you have to stop yourself from jumping head first trying to solve it. We had to do a lot of research and consider multiple industries and factors they deal with when conducting field outreach. I was coming from an Irish background and an Irish campaigning background, which is slightly different to how people in India would campaign, or New York. I wanted to build a flexible tool that catered for organizers and campaigners globally.  The cyclical nature of political campaigning is something the team had to appreciate too but this pushed us on to newer and more exciting verticals. 

Who is your target audience?

Originally, I saw political campaigners and active candidates as the primary user of Ecanvasser but that has changed so much over the last couple of years. 

We have grown so much and so has our customer base. We now work with unions, school boards, non-profits, community groups, sales people and political parties. It is such a broad group that it keeps things very interesting around the office! 

What is the USP of your startup?

Real-world and digital organizing in one platform. Our mission is to create a world where organising communities is simple, and that anyone can make a positive impact if they put their mind to it. 

Can you describe your typical workday?

There are a lot of conversations that happen daily in the Ecanvasser office.  With some staff being remote, we do quite a bit of catching up online, but I think the most important thing as the CEO of the company is to check in with the various departments, linking up with the product team to understand when our latest feature might by finished and then moving onto the Sales team to discuss a new client. 

Due to the nature of our software and our wide customer base, learning from our customers and what they need is a daily task and that’s why I need to hear constant updates from my team – it keeps me in the loop. 

Where do you see yourself and your startup Ecanvasser in five years?

Over the last few years, the product has scaled and transformed substantially from where I ever saw it going. Many people once saw it as only a canvassing app but now it is so much more. In terms of what’s next, I think continuing to reimagine the product and how our users want to communicate with tech is where Ecanvasser will continue to grow and succeed. We have a pretty ambitious team and one who surprises me daily with how fast they can spot new trends and solve problems. I never have to worry about us being behind the curve in terms of digital organising anyway! I just hope we continue to have that measured approach when it comes to listening to our customers and building a product for them. 

What 3 tips would you give to founders?

Lead from the front. You have to believe in what you are trying to do, because if you don’t, nobody else will. Don’t be afraid to get stuck into the nitty gritty with your employees, take up a role in a team for a few months as by doing so, it ensures you never lose sight of what is going on in your own company too. 

Trust the team – cliche as it sounds but surround yourself with people who are smarter than you.  Give them autonomy to make decisions and you will quickly see the benefits. Two heads are better than one after all. 

Don’t shy away from tough decisions – be these product or staff based. Sometimes those hard calls give you the best results in the long term. 

Thank you Brendan Finucane for the Interview

Statements of the author and the interviewee do not necessarily represent the editors and the publisher opinion again.

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