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Web application that simplified the legislative system
Startup Cemetery
United States
Shut Down
Bad Business Model
Number of Founders:
Name of Founders:
Grayson Carroll, Patrick Cason, Seth Whiting, Shawn Whiting
Number of Employees:
Number of Funding Rounds:
Total Funding Amount:
Number of Investors:

What was Poliana?

Poliana established with an aim of bringing order to the chaos in the political system of the United States of America. It initially tried to do that by providing a gateway for communication between politicians and their citizens. After the pivot, they started creating and designing data visualization tool using their data set for institutions like schools. Also, they created a paid access terminal that assisted people to make their own data visualization. Poliana also tried to sell information and data visualization to media groups in small and large scale depending on their audience. In particular, they collected data on who exactly funded politicians so as to create transparency and a better understanding of who’s agenda a particular politician was trying to implement since there was a high correlation between the source of the funding politicians receive and the bills they would pass (or prevent from passing).


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Why did Poliana fail and shut down?

Poliana had low market demand and ran out of finances even though they tried to implement three different business models with schools, news agencies and the public at large.

The idea of creating a data visualization tool for school and university students did not work. To penetrate in the schools required strong connection to the school administrators, which the company did not have. It was difficult to make money from projects that were meant to be free to the public. There was no demand for viewing graphs which the public had to pay for first. Poliana allowed the public to see the graphs, but to make their own data they had to pay via SaaS model thus incurring expensive charges. Poliana also attempts with local news media were unsuccessful as they had little interest in what the company offered while middle news media were interested but lacked the budget for visualization data technology. International and national media had their own set of experts and data hence the information offered by the company was irrelevant.

There was a fourth profit model that was suggested by many users but which Poliana decided not to pursue. The model involved selling visualization data and information to politicians. The Poliana team argued that the model might compromise their ethics and go against their very principles when they started the project hence they refrained from creating it. Poliana decided to share their code and open source it in its entirety and suspended their operations in 2015.

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