Project Wonderful

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Ten More Votes! A Firm Of One's Own with Eric Hogensen

One of the things I love the most about our community is that you have people wherever you go. To wit, I am in Los Angeles looking for my next adventure and the consultants and operatives of the West Coast (and yes, the GC culture is a huge thing here, another post on that later) have been nothing but generous with their time. I sat down with Eric Hogensen of HSG campaigns to learn more about his business AND his exciting new project, Ten More Votes!

Who are you? Tell us a little about yourself and your career trajectory.

I was born in Chicago and raised around Madison, Wisconsin. My mother is Mexican and father is Jewish. I was raised in a fairly political household by left-wing radical artists and got a Poli Sci degree but I didn’t work on my first campaign until after college. I started as a Field Organizer in WA-03 (Olympia) in the summer of 2000, literally fell in love with campaigns on that race and I've been doing it ever since. I came up through field, did a Kentucky Governor’s race, a Presidential cycle for Clark in South Carolina and a Congressional race in Vegas. Along the way I did a little bit of everything from press to finance to managing.

What do you love about campaigns?

I think of campaigns like a mosquito zapper. One pops up and all these people from all over suddenly flock to it. I’m definitely a people person so I love that feeling of camaraderie and teamwork. There’s nothing like that pace and that energy. I especially love managing because you are in the middle of everything, you move things forward, you influence the candidate, there’s no part of the race you don’t touch. But it takes so much out of you.

When did you start your own firm and why?

I believe you only have two or three races in you to manage and really do it well. I won my congressional race in ‘06 started my firm in ’07. I got some good staff that I trusted and rented a couple rooms above a soccer bar in Milwaukee, focused on mail and digital. Once it got going, I moved things out to CA because I love it here. The weather is great and my wife is from SC and so she missed warm weather. 

What surprised you about starting your own firm?

The thing I was least prepared for is that once you're a consultant all your relationships with other consultants change. As a manager, they’re helping you get jobs and you are helping them by staffing their races. As a fellow it’s just different. Even if you’re not in direct competition maybe they’re on a race with someone with whom you are. Also the reality of constantly selling/finding clients. The impact and the beast of that is intense.

Tell us about Ten More Votes.

Ten More Votes is a mobile voter contact campaign app for Democratic campaigns that volunteers and supporters can use to easily call, text and canvass for the campaign. No other platform allows you to do all three and its ease of use, in my opinion, is second to none. 

How did this come about?

My friend Kelly (who is a tech person) and I were talking. He was building apps and doing some freelance projects and we decided to do a project together.  It did come out of what I perceive to be a gap in campaign technology. There are solutions out there but I don't think they are as simple as they can be and for me this filled that gap.

How have you seen this kind of technology change over the course of your career?

I've by seen it go from nothing in 2000 -basically we were just chatting with each other on AIM-- to now where smart campaigns spend a significant part of their budget and devote staff to digital. So literally from 0 to like 50% when you consider how much tech is a part of everything. The key becomes how do you integrate everything; how do you curate what’s out there? You don't want to get distracted by shiny objects. At the same time there are fundamentals that don't have anything to do with digital: management, messaging, good candidates that won't ever change. 

If people want to learn more about how 10 more votes works how can they find out?

You can use this link to sign up for a demo. CampaignSick readers get 10% off their first two months of using the app!

What else do you want people to know about Ten More Votes?

We used to talk about this like a FUBU product, for us by us. Lot's of people come from the tech world and want to tell us how to improve things, knowing nothing about the process. I built this with us in mind. I'm a campaign person; I'm not an angel investor or a tech bro. Basically I love your readers and and I want their feedback because that's who we build this for.

What do you wish you had known earlier in your career?

Be more mindful of how you treat people. When you are young and passionate you get caught up in the moment and you lose sight of how the things you say affect people. I never lacked confidence, I can tell you that, but there's a way to be confident without being cocky. People will remember how you treat them long after you've forgotten what you said.

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