As another political cycle begins to ramp up, a new service called Glia has raised seed funding to connect consumers with the brands and companies that support their similar values.
Seemingly during every big election cycle, people become hyper-aware of how the corporations whose goods they buy and services they use on a daily basis spend their money on political and social campaigns.
It’s with an eye toward that hypersensitive political climate that Barry Klein, a longtime political consultant has raised the first capital to grow Glia (named after the neural cells that his wife has researched that are the basis for learning and cognition in the brain).
Along with co-founders Chris Rappley, a longtime startup consultant, and Tahlia Sutton, a product development executive, Klein has developed Glia to be an app that blends Yelp and eHarmony, for what Klein calls “values-based shopping”.
A user on the app simply fills out a profile of their political and social likes and dislikes and then the app will match them with restaurants and shops that support similar causes.
“When people find out about what the values of a company are or the values of a state, it has an impact on how people spend their money,” says Klein.
Rather than create a list of shops to avoid, Klein’s app promotes the ones whose owners are like-minded.
“What we’re able to do is look at what are businesses doing with their money, what they’re saying they want to do, and what their [corporate social responsibility] looks like,” Klein says. “Then our algorithm gives that person a score that matches that individual with that business at that point in time.”
His vision has been intriguing enough to attract Facebook’s employee number one, Taner Halicioglu, as an advisor to the company, and raise roughly $250,000 in seed funding to build out the first generation of products.
Based on Klein’s research, the potential user-base for such a service is at least 21 million to 31 million active users — those are the people who are prime voters and members of issue advocacy groups.
And, despite, their lack of engagement with the traditional political process, Klein thinks millennials will be big users for the app. “There is a good sub-segment of millennials who may not be active in electoral politics, but are doing good in their community,” he says.
Klein and his company have started their indexing of customers to social causes and the companies that back them by looking first to larger businesses, the corporate retailers and restaurants that are where most people spend their money.
Unlike apps like BuyPartisan or BuyCott, which both focus on products and the corporations that manufacture them, Glia is looking at the shops in which people buy their goods. On one level, Klein thinks that people will have more loyalty to a store that shares their values, even if they’re buying products from companies that don’t.
Klein and his co-founders started the company in February 2014, and launched their initial campaign to drum up business in February.