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Providence startup LoveGov wants to hook you up with your ideal candidate

Posted by Scott Kirsner  October 11, 2012 07:15 AM

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Just coming out of beta is a new Providence-based political site called LoveGov. The site was spawned by the business plan competition at Brown University; though LoveGov didn't take home a prize, its founder did connect with Tom Pincince, chief executive of the LED lighting startup Digital Lumens -- and a Brown alumnus. Pincince decided to join a group of angel investors who've given the company just over $100,000 to get rolling.

Founder Joschka Tryba, right, says that the site wants to help citizens understand where politicians stand on the issues they care about most, and ideally have an impact on the legislative process at all levels. He was inspired to start work on LoveGov by the Arab Spring and the Occupy movement. "Twitter and Facebook did an excellent job in getting people out on the street," Tryba says. "But in terms of impacting government and legislation, maybe Twitter and Facebook were limited in those respects. We built LoveGov to enable like-minded people to organize themselves, take action, and I'd hope, make a difference."

The site invites you to answer questions about issues ranging from taxes to school lunches to alternative energy, and then shows you which candidates you're most closely aligned with. But you can also see how your positions compare to those of your friends and family, if they sign up with the site. You can field polls of your own, create petitions, or start discussions. Tryba says the company is focusing at the outset on getting all of this fall's major races in New England into its database. "Eventually, we want to get down to the local level, with candidates for school board and state reps on the site, too," he says.

"What I liked about the idea is that it gets beyond whether you're a Democrat or Republican," says Pincince. "It lets you have issues-based conversations. Even if my wife and I support different candidates, the site shows us where we have common ground, and lets us talk about where we have differences."

LoveGov plans to feature live polling and discussions during tonight's vice presidential debate, and the remaining presidential debates.

After November's elections, Tryba says he hopes to raise additional funding to hire more employees and create partnerships that will bring users to the site in between elections. One of the company's big objectives, he says, is enabling citizens to make their voices heard more often than once every two years.

Here's a screenshot:


lovegov.png

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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