4 years ago I started Polis because I believed that the world would be a better place if people talked (and listened) to each other about the candidates and causes they believed in. My team and I built an app for political campaigns to mobilize huge numbers of supporters to go out into their own neighborhoods and talk to people in person.

There were many amazing aspects of Polis. Our software was used to knock 10 million American doors, we worked with hundreds of campaigns across the country and we connected people in a real, personal way in a time when people were becoming increasingly isolated and lonely online.

In the vein of Audrey Gelman’s incredibly brave article about the realities of startup life, we also had challenges. Politics is a tough market to work in. We never had data breaches or system failures like the recent news in Iowa, but in each of the election years that our app was used, we had tremendous revenue and app usage through November and then in December we’d drop to 0. This made it difficult to fund and run our business.

Polis daily active users, 2018

Then, about 18-months ago, we had a breakthrough. Throughout our entire company’s history, we had been asked by companies if they could use our software to help them connect with their customers at home. Home products/service companies (think home security, clean energy, pest control and telecoms) struggle to sell online and consumers trust recommendations from others, even people they don’t know, over branded content.

That is why we decided to build Knoq, an app for neighborhood communities. Our neighborhood representatives (“Knoqers”) go into their own neighborhoods and educate their neighbors about products and services that can make their lives better. Unlike political canvassers or door-to-door sales reps, Knoqers use our app to help homeowners compare and contrast complex , direct-to-home products. Knoqers never push one product but instead they drive value in interactions by providing information on how products compare to each other.

The goal is to reach busy homeowners and renters who have been meaning to get work done around their homes but haven’t quite gotten to it. Most people want to get clean energy or have been meaning to buy a home security system, but because it’s not top of mind, they are not getting the work done.

Knoq app

Since the beginning of 2019 we have built two teams in Kansas City and Boston and grown our team to 37 full time Knoqers. Knoqers get trained in our app on how to do neighborhood outreach and then on how to sell individual products. Once they’ve been background checked and have passed all of our training, they go into their neighborhoods and talk to their neighbors about a marketplace of products and services. We are proud that our Knoqers have worked with Google Fiber, NRG, Inspire Energy, Fluent Home Security, Orkin Pest Control and many other direct-to-home brands.

Knoq neighborhood outreach team, Boston.

More recently as people are taking important and necessary precautions due to coronavirus, and as more people work from home, Knoq has decided to open a new “no-contact” marketing channel, to allow brands to reach and help people working from home at this time. Knoqers will be able to drop literature and samples, talk to people only when appropriate, and deliver necessary services. We are proud to be a small part of the recovery effort and have released more information about it here.

The response to our Knoqers (both pre and post coronavirus) has been tremendous. Busy homeowners who have been meaning to get work done around their homes are thrilled to learn from honest, trustworthy Knoqers about the products and services that we represent. Enterprise brands are excited for a new marketing channel through which they can meet customers and have genuine interactions (especially when more people are working from home than ever). Most importantly, Knoqers are happy because they get paid hourly with generous commission for working in their own neighborhoods and making the world a better place.

Since rolling out our neighborhood outreach teams, growth has been sustained and strong and we are changing our name to Knoq to reflect this world we are trying to build.

Knoq revenue 2019. With product/market fit comes a new name reflective of the market we serve.

So what’s next? Our primary goal for 2020 is growing our team of Knoqers and building our footprint across the United States. We are currently in Kansas City and Boston and this year we will be rolling out Salt Lake City, Las Vegas and two cities in Texas.

We are looking for people who are motivated, intelligent and kind to become Knoqers. No previous experience is needed for this role (it’s impossible to have experience!) so we are looking for people who like talking to others and value making other people’s lives easier. We have found that the best Knoqers are extroverts who have experience in retail, restaurants and/or customer service. Because our app includes sales training and product education, being motivated and having an open mind are the most important qualities to succeed.

We are building a world where people better connect with their neighborhoods and I, for one, am excited to see what the Knoq world brings.

Founder & CEO of Knoq | @Techstars '16 | Entrepreneur, data nerd, runner | @Forbes '30 Under 30'

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