Based in New Haven, VoterLabs builds AI-powered data engines for medium and enterprise-sized clients in politics and business, helping them use predictive analytics to learn more about their customers or voters and offer the right product, message or action at the right time to targeted individuals and households. Founded in 2012 , the company launched its first self service platform in 2014 and initially delivered text-to-donate services for political campaigns, integrating analytics into the messaging to help campaigns build profiles and generate audience segments for micro-targeted engagement. As a matter of fact, VoterLabs has provided the text-to-donate technology for multiple presidential campaigns.
The company of approximately 10 people has been growing steadily and, this past summer, sought to augment its team with the addition of summer interns. President and CEO Walter Kawecki had crossed paths with CTNext through the EIR program, which ultimately netted the company a board member. In reviewing company resources available for interns, he decided to pursue a grant from CTNext’s Technology Talent Bridge (TTB) program to help compete for top-end talent.
“I’m a big fan of CTNext and check in on their various programs intermittently,” said Kawecki. “TTB seemed like a good fit for us, and we thought a grant could really help us develop a more attractive and competitive offer for the type of intern that could join the team and contribute right away.”
Connecticut companies compete fiercely for intern candidates among themselves and companies in neighboring hubs of New York and Boston. One such candidate, Nils Carlson, seemed like an ideal fit for VoterLabs. A student at UMass Amherst, Nils was considering attractive offers from nearby companies, including much larger ones like Amazon.
“I was intrigued by the opportunity at VoterLabs,” said Carlson. “Unlike some of the larger tech internship programs, they were offering an actual position with the responsibility of leading tasks, not just coffee running or fixing simple mistakes.”
For Nils, the TTB program played a role in his decision to ultimately accept the internship offer that has since evolved into a full-time role. Among other things, the support given to VoterLabs by CTNext created a degree of credibility and solidity.
“A number of my friends have taken internships at startups that have disappeared. Knowing VoterLabs had the support of CTNext definitely gave a legitimacy to their internship program and the confidence that this is a real program I can count on.”
The TTB grant also allowed VoterLabs to help Nils with housing costs. Nils had been looking in the Cambridge area for internship positions. Without relocation support, he likely would’ve been compelled to work with Amazon or one of the local Cambridge companies, despite his interest in the VoterLabs position.
“The grant from the TTB program allowed us to secure Nils’s commitment to our internship program, as we were able to quickly secure resources beyond just remuneration that allowed us to compete financially with larger competitors,” Kawecki continued.
Securing the TTB grant also yielded an ancillary and more emotional result for Kawecki.
“Once Nils is done with his degree, he’ll be moving to Connecticut, and I’m thrilled about that. I was born and raised in Connecticut, and I love it here. I’m happy to have the resources to create jobs here, help people move here and give people the chance to see how great of a place this is. We have a lot to offer in the state, and programs like TTB are critical for helping businesses like ours attract and retain talent. This program has been phenomenal for us.”