“Blue Squad” to Use Tech Tools to Help Progressive Candidates

Austin—For Shion Deysarkar, founder and CEO of Web analytics startup Datafiniti, last fall’s presidential election was a wake-up call.

“The election was a very sobering event,” he says. “I think most progressive people had just assumed that we had turned the corner on a lot of issues in America. The election proved we were severely wrong.”

Deysarker and Steve Blackmon, vice president of technology at the Austin, TX-based software company People Pattern, this week launched Blue Squad, a self-described “digital coalition to help Texas turn blue.”

During the run-up to the election, some news outlets ran stories asking whether Texas’s electoral votes might go to Hillary Clinton due to the increasingly urban and diverse population. However, her opponent Donald Trump ended up carrying the state by nearly nine percentage points.

Deysarker told me he began looking for way to use his skills to help the Texas Democratic party since election day. “It’s not just about helping the Democrats but helping a progressive agenda.”

During the opening days of South by Southwest, Deysarkar has been telling fellow technologists about the site. He hopes to enlist about 50 people to sign up and donate their time and skills to help progressive politicians with local and statewide campaigns.

“Me specifically, I can help campaigns with using their voter data better, and supplementing it with other information that would be helpful, anything around improving the coverage and accuracy of their voter data.”

Others like him have expertise in software development and large-scale e-mail campaigns. “The hypothesis is just by having a competent digital and tech strategy in place, you have a significant leg up on your Republican counterpart,” he says.

Right now, many candidates don’t even have a website capable of having a high conversion rate, he adds. For example, he says that “it should be designed where it’s easy to sign up as a volunteer—the button should be ‘here.’ It should be this color.”

Deysarkar says that Blue Squad marks a step up in his political involvement, beyond just casting a ballot in November. “Progressives have become lazy in the last eight years,” he says. “I’m at the tail end of millennial generation and our generation has not really had a social thing to fight for. We kind of had it easy. Now we’re learning you have to fight for something.”

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