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ElectNext, like eHarmony for voters, part of DreamIt's Comcast minority entrepreneur accelerator

Want to blow your voting mind? Head over to ElectNext, a new website that matches citizens with candidates. "If you change the context from Republican vs. Democrat, it changes the world," says ElectNext Communications Director Dave Speers, who recently joined founders Keya Dannenbaum and Paul Jungwirth to fundamentally change the way you think about your vote.

Speers describes ElectNext as eHarmony for voters. When you sign up, you answer a series of questions about your political philosophy. The results can shake people up. A lifelong democrat may find that her take on the issues most closely aligns with a moderate republican like presidential candidate Jon Huntsman. "I'm a Republican," says Speers. "What could separate you and me is one issue. In reality, we're 99 percent in agreement."

Speers reports that some voters go ballistic upon seeing their results, which may not align with their perception of the candidates or themselves. "When you walk into a voting booth, like millions of people, you see one or two names you recognize. As far as the rest of the candidates, you might skip the vote, or vote dogmatically down party lines, or it could be arbitrary, like picking someone by the ethnicity of their last name."

Dannenbaum met Jungwirth at a Philly Tech Meetup. Jungwirth, who's working on a PhD in Classics from Penn and has a professional background in computer programming, was looking for an opportunity to use both sides of his brain, and Dannenbaum terms the partnership a perfect fit.

The startup is funded by DreamIt Ventures and is part of the Comcast Minority Entrepreneur Accelerator Program (MEAP) within DreamIt. Dannenbaum, who is on leave from MBA studies at The Wharton School, says that getting the $25,000 DreamIt grant was possible after participating in the Good Company incubator program, which provided office space at University of the Arts.

"The training and the curriculum at Good Company is what prepared us to be able to talk to the DreamIt folks at the end of the summer," says Dannenbaum.

DreamIt also receives a 6 percent equity stake in the for-profit company with five employees. Dannenbaum credits the Wharton Venture Initiation Program as well, which offers ElectNext on-campus meeting space and mentors.

Dannenbaum says her leave from Wharton is open ended, and the team hopes to take ElectNext national in time for the 2012 presidential election.

Source: Keya Dannenbaum, Dave Speers, ElectNext
Writer: Sue Spolan
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