Goods Unite Us, a Madison, WI-based startup seeking to inform shoppers about the political leanings of corporations they purchase products and services from, says it closed a $500,000 seed funding round last week.
MaSa Partners, Humble Rogue Ventures, and Mark Bakken, a Madison-based entrepreneur and investor, co-led the round, Goods Unite Us says.
Launched in 2017, Goods Unite Us aims to increase transparency around corporate money in politics by providing users with information on political contributions by consumer products companies and their executives. Goods Unite Us has built software that combs through a database with information from public documents disclosing political donations.
The software scores companies based on the amount of money they’ve given to political campaigns and political action committees, as well as recipients’ party affiliations, Abigail Wuest, co-founder and CEO of Goods Unite Us, told Xconomy previously.
The startup’s database contains information on more than 4,000 brands and companies, according to a news release announcing its new funding round.
Goods Unite Us plans to use some of the proceeds from the investment to continue expanding its user base. The company says it currently has more than 200,000 monthly active users across its mobile and desktop applications, which are free to use.
The startup also plans to add new features to its software, says Brian Potts, another member of the Goods Unite Us founding team. (The third co-founder is Amy Miller, who serves as chief operating officer.) Those efforts include “adding detail about the specific politicians each brand [or] company donates to, and allowing users to see which politicians their spending has supported,” he says in an e-mail.
Potts says that one path the company may explore in the future involves selling subscriptions to corporations, which would give them the ability to respond to feedback users post about the organizations Goods Unite Us tracks in its database. Specifically, corporate subscribers could address comments related to their political speech, working conditions, and track record on environmental and sustainability issues, he says.
The subscription-based business model somewhat resembles that of Glassdoor, a jobs website with information on employers and positions they’re looking to fill, Potts says. Glassdoor is perhaps best known as a place where workers rate and review current and past employers. The website gives corporate users access to a basic set of features for free, but performing certain actions, like highlighting positive employee reviews, requires the employer to be a paid Glassdoor subscriber.
When Xconomy profiled Goods Unite Us in late 2017, part of the startup’s vision was to advocate for Democratic candidates and progressive causes through e-commerce. The concept involved directing users to an online marketplace of products sold by corporations that have either put little to no money into politics, or which have given predominantly to politicians and advocacy groups on the left.
However, Potts says Goods Unite Us has moved away from the e-commerce approach, which would have earned the startup commissions when users ended up making purchases through the platform.
“We haven’t been focused at all on revenues,” he says, adding that his company’s long-term plan is to make money from other businesses, rather than individuals who use its software. “Our goal is to get users right now.”