After living in and around DC for many years, Matthew Colbert understood the hard-lined dichotomy between our nation’s capital and the rest of the country in terms of how much of a difference an individual thinks he or she can make on a grander scale. DC has consistently swarmed with aspiring politicians and seasoned policy-makers who, for the most part, believe that their thoughts and actions make a difference. Colbert found that this did not necessarily ring true for the rest of the United States.
In Colbert’s words, “People really just want information, they care about different issues and DC puts people in silos based on the issue – you’re either pro business or pro labor, you’re either pro choice or pro life, you’re either pro gun control or pro gun rights, but when you leave DC you’re not a label anymore, you’re just a human being who cares about certain issues that really matter to you.” So, Colbert combined what he knew about the political climate in DC and the fact that many Americans thought they could not have a public voice and founded Spend Consciously.
In its first beta stage, his app, BuyPartisan, allows users to scan the bar codes of products they want to buy and see how the corporation selling that item spends their money politically. This allows anyone using the app to see what or whom these corporations support and then be able to make an informed decision on whether or not they should buy the product. In a live demonstration, Colbert exhibited exactly how his application works. Simply line up the scanner with the bar code of the product you are thinking about buying, in this case, a bottle of Seltzer water, and almost instantly, reports on the corporations spending come up in graph form with helpful explanations.
BuyPartisan received mostly positive and a couple negative reviews from both the liberal and conservative parties, but as Colbert said, “if you’ve got both sides talking, you know you must be doing something right!” With the next version of the app, Spend Consciously will be revamping the interface, adding new features, and even changing the name. Eyespend will now have information on more companies, BuyPartisan only covered the Fortune 500s, the ability to invest in the publicly traded corporations that fiscally support your beliefs, and even the capacity for each user to send a “pre-generated [customizable] email” to the company, providing a crucial connection between consumer and retailer. According to Colbert, companies have been happy to work with him on this, as this would provide “more direct engagement and feedback form.”
Spend Consciously has already given a voice to so many of us who passionately hold certain beliefs, but have never felt the concrete ability to do something about them. If you are interested in joining the start-up, the company is looking for interns! Contact Chandni Sandhu at firstname.lastname@example.org (make sure the e-mail address is linked) for more information!