Applying to BetaSpring

BetaSpringI’m in the middle of applying to the most important opportunity that I’ve ever had with CapitolBuddy. BetaSpring is a start-up accelerator here in Providence that I’m hoping will give me some mentorship and resources to help the evolution of CapitolBuddy. They also provide some funding and a space to work.

I see what is currently just an iOS app of some states’ legislators transforming into the tool (perhaps the platform) where all capitol workers, from the non-profit advocates to the legislative assistants, can accomplish their work more effectively. Not only will they know everyone in the building better, but they’ll be able to collaborate more, take better notes, and then share those notes with clients and constituents just as easily as you share a Facebook post now.

Speaking of Facebook… please go “like” my application for BetaSpring and make me look impressive.

CapitolBuddy started because I was working at a non-profit advocacy group in Missouri where we spent much of our time talking to legislators at the capitol. Our main goal was usually stopping anything bad from happening to the state’s best renewable energy laws. Through all our efforts we always wanted a better way to take notes, share info amongst each other, and simply get the basic info like where a legislator’s office was and who their assistant was.

Eventually those struggles led to my creating the first version of CapitolBuddy. And my heart is still with those small and medium-sized non-profits that need to do work at state capitols to advance their causes.

“I want to help the local Sierra Club’s and the Environment America’s and labor unions and teacher associations. But even more  than them, I want to help the small non-profits I haven’t heard of yet.”

At the moment, I can offer these groups a sweet iPhone/iPad app with a lot of great info and functions. But eventually it will be much more. I plan to extend the service to a desktop web app, accessible from the capitolbuddy.com (as you can see, this option is not there yet). Users will be able to sign up and add colleagues to their team so they can easily share info. And taking it a step further, clients and constituents will be able to access updates from the users that allow it via private access codes. I’d like to even offer live video feeds from the sessions, if I can get the states on board.

It’s all very exciting, and there are so many things to do. But right now, I truly want to focus on the basics of what these advocates need to succeed in their work.

What’s new in CapitolBuddy 1.5

Last week, I released an update for CapitolBuddy that adds some key features. The “News” section is the most obvious addition. But there’s also an updated interface for notes. And Vote Count is a little more sophisticated. See more about each of the big changes below.

News

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Unread news in in blue

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Click the folder icon at the bottom to save a news link

Read something interesting about a legislator? Go find it in the news section and attach the link to their notes. There are some automatic feeds when you first open the News section, but it is totally customizable if you click on “Edit” in the right, upper corner. Add your favorite political news sites (even if it’s not an RSS feed). Or just search google news for a particular story to add to legislators’ notes.

When you read a story, it becomes greyed out — your unread stories have the “NEW!” label on them.

When you’re ready to attach a link to a note, click the folder-looking icon on the bottom of the news story. Then scroll/search through all the lawmakers to find your destination. Tap their name and choose whether or not to save your link with those notes. See the screenshots from Missouri’s legislators to the left.

Updated Notes

Links, dates, and addresses are clickable in Notes

Links, dates, and addresses are clickable in Notes

Since we’re attaching links to the notes, it’s only right that notes are clickable. Now they are! Links, emails, phone numbers, dates, and addresses are all clickable in the notes view. See the screenshot of Sen. Keaveny’s (MO-4) notes on the left.

Because clicking on the notes might mean you’re trying to click a link, to edit anything, first touch the pencil icon in the corner. Fun, right?

Vote Counting adds some short cuts

New ratings options for organizing vote counts

New ratings options for organizing vote counts

Quickly organize your vote counts by the rating you’ve given someone. And of course if you want to give someone a rating quickly, touch the (i) logo by any legislator to quickly get to their profile, notes, and ratings. See the new vote organizing options on the left.

CapitolBuddy puts legislators in your hand [video]

If you work at a state capitol in any capacity, you likely need to know the lawmakers around you, and you also need to take well organized notes on those lawmakers. CapitolBuddy gives you the info you need to succeed. Take a look at Rhode Island’s info for free by downloading the app on your iPhone or iPad to test it out — and even luckier for you if you live in Rhode Island. Missouri, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Ohio are also available for only $24.99 each.

Remember you’re not just getting the info with CapitolBuddy. You’re getting tools like vote counting, note organizing, and a new feature that quickly lets you attach news links right in the app. Stay tuned for more on that soon.

Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, the new website, or the subscribe box on the right side of this screen.

(Video made with Prezi and iMovie.)

Pennsylvania is for sale

The roll out of new states continues for CapitolBuddy. We’re working to help our state capitol people become more efficient one state at a time. Pennsylvania, you’re up! This new product includes the normal info for each legislator, same note taking, and same vote counting — still only $24.99.

Here's a sample screenshot for a PA Senator.

Here’s a sample screenshot for a PA Senator.

Here’s a list of the info included for Pennsylvania:

  • Photo
  • Name
  • Party
  • District
  • Phone
  • Email (sometimes a web form)
  • Office (capitol room number)
  • Staff (only for the House)
  • Hometown
  • Committees
  • Short Biography

Keep notes synced across devices

In the latest version of the CapitolBuddy, the app will sync your notes when it is launched. And you can manually get your notes by clicking “Restore”.

Imagine this:

iOS Simulator Screen shot Oct 29, 2013, 3.32.38 PMiOS Simulator Screen shot Oct 29, 2013, 3.33.10 PMYou’ve just taken some great notes and saved them after a meeting with Rep. Gordon Fox (RI) in the CapitolBuddy app on your iPad.

Then you head to lunch and want to talk something over with Rep. Grace Diaz that Rep. Fox had mentioned. So you pull out your iPhone and launch CapitolBuddy. It grabs the notes file you just saved from your meeting with Fox and when you open his profile on the phone, you see exactly what you had before.

You can then email the note to yourself, your colleagues, or Diaz with the click of a button.

Offer for a FREE state

We need reviews!

We need reviews!

Here’s the deal, download CapitolBuddy on your iPhone or iPad today. Sign up, test it out, and review it. And then you get your state for free!

Download it in the App Store. 

Keep these cool new feature in mind too.

Pretty easy! This deal will go for the next 24 hours, so spread the word.

EDIT: Deal extended through the end of the week (Sunday, Oct. 27).

After you’ve submitted your review, just enter your username below and what state you’d like. I’ll give you the free state as soon as I see your submitted form and then you can click “Restore” in CapitolBuddy’s “change states” view to load it up.

Virginia, Ohio, and Illinois! Learn about your lawmakers.

I’m excited to announce that my team has compiled the legislator data for Virginia, Ohio, and Illinois.

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Here’s the info you can find on every legislator.

  • Photo
  • Name
  • Party
  • District
  • Phone
  • Email*
  • Office ( either room number or address)
  • Staff **
  • Hometown
  • Committees
  • Short Biography

Other great features include:

All of these are available to test out for free with Rhode Island’s information in the iOS App Store. Every other state’s info will cost you $24.99 / year. Me and my team are dedicated to keeping the legislator info up to date and improving it every day. When we update info, your app will download it automatically. So, go make some buddies in the your capitol today!

*Contact webpage in the case of Ohio.
**Illinois, Ohio, and Rhode Island are missing the staff member info — they don’t publish that info online, unfortunately.
*** Missouri has an icon for chair and vice-chair in the committee member view.

CapitolBuddy is LIVE in the App Store

capbud_originalVersion 1.1 of the CapitolBuddy is in the App Store now. Go download it for free.

Review of the pricing

Rhode Island comes free with the app so you can see the layout, view the available info, and try out the Notes and Vote Count features.

Then, if you need the info for a state that isn’t Rhode Island, you pay $24.99 for a year’s subscription. Enjoy having up-to-date legislator contact info, bios, photos, and more right in your pocket — something services like GovWatch don’t even offer.

So far Missouri has been approved for sale in the App Store. Illinois, Virginia, Ohio, and the US Congress are on the way. If you’re looking for a specific state, leave a comment!

Enjoy.

Get the news on legislators

A new addition to the legislator profiles is the “Recent News” button. It’s pretty simple in that it takes you to a google news search of the Rep. or Sen. But I used it the other day to see that my own state representative was elected as the Chairwoman of the board for John Hope, a local non-profit day-care. Good to know what your legislators are up to, right?

iOS Simulator Screen shot Oct 9, 2013 12.35.45 PM