DNC teams up with Philly startup to meet voters where they are: Their smart phones

    The Democratic National Convention is teaming up with Philadephia-based startup Curalate to meet voters where they are: their smart phones.

    Curalate, which describes itself as a “content monetization platform,” is helping the DNC use the thousands — dare we say millions? — of images that will be generated by the estimated 50,000 convention-goers to create opportunities for deeper engagement in the event. 

    The Democratic National Convention Committee announced the partnership at a press conference Monday morning at the startup’s Center City headquarters on Walnut Street. Mayor Jim Kenney looked overdressed in a suit and tie as he spoke at a podium errected in front of more than a dozen Curalate employees in more casual dress — one sported a cowboy hat — who sat, not in cubicles, but shoulder-to-shoulder at long worktables. 

    “Our goal is to make the most innovative and engaging convention ever and, with Curalate as an official technology provider, we can make that goal a reality,” Andrew Binns, the convention’s chief innovation officer, said over the din of the collaborative workspace.

    Here’s how that’s going to work: One way Curalate makes its money is by turning the pictures and videos we post on social media into profits for brands, using those images to connect shoppers with the products they see. Now, the company is taking the same technology it’s developed for retailers such as Urban Outfitters and Crate and Barrel and adapting it to the DNC.

    “What applies to products will begin to apply to politics as well,” said CEO Apu Gupta, who would not say whether the company is being paid for its work or donating its services “in kind” to the DNC Host Committe, which is raising about $65 million to cover the costs of the event. 

    The DNC’s digital team will comb through all of the images generated by convention-goers using the hashtag “DemsInPhilly” to create a curated stream on the DNC’s website and Instagram feed where the selected images will be linked to more information.

    For example, Binns said a delegate could post a photo of Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards speaking on the convention floor.

    “We can link that image to a petition on the Planned Parenthood website,” Binns explained. “When a user clicks on that photo in our fanreel, they’re immediately given access to tools to stand up to reproductive rights.”

    Images may also be linked to news reports and information about the Democratic Party platform, voter registration and activities such as a scavanger hunt for the 57 fiberglass donkeys representing every American state and territory. 

    Right now, the DNC digital team is just a handful of staffers. But by the time the convention gets underway on July 25, Binns said, it will be a round-the-clock operation involving dozens of volunteers. 

    Of course, not every image associated with the DNC — such as protests — will make it onto the curated stream. 

    “We’re focused on some of the great stories that will come out of the convention for both the convention and Philadephia,” said Binns.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal