Dollar Vote
Apr 23 · 5 min read

DollarVote is a venture spearheaded by 3 SEP active members (Vasudev Venkatesh, Sophie St Clair, and Joelene Latief) that they started during their initial semester in SEP.


How can we empower people to create tangible political impact in their everyday lives?

Being a part of Berkeley’s highly politically engaged campus, we notice people all around us looking for ways to take action and support political causes that they believe in. This generation has strong political opinions, and its members are not afraid to vote, protest, and boycott to make their opinions heard. However, the reality is that daily activism is difficult and requires a continuous, sustained effort that many people just aren’t able to commit.

DollarVote wants to combat this friction and allow you to seamlessly integrate political impact into your everyday routine. We do this through our Chrome extension, which integrates itself naturally into your online shopping experience and informs you about how different brands impact political causes you care about, allowing you to put your dollar towards causes you believe in while staying informed about the impact of your purchases.

Our Vision

People should be able to easily access the right data at the right time whenever they make a decision that could impact causes they care about. Currently, there exists an informational gap between companies and consumers, a gap that often results in consumers inadvertently supporting institutions that don’t align with their political values through their shopping choices.

We believe that people who are well-informed about the consequences of their decisions and how these decisions impact their political interests will actively take steps to minimize their negative impact and maximize their positive contributions. DollarVote enables individuals to do so by filling the informational gap that restricts the current shopping experience through an unobstructive, intuitive interface.

Dollar Vote shows the user relevant data about the political impact of companies as they’re shopping online. We filter companies based on the user’s personal value profile.

Designing our Product

Making wireframes and mockups

The goal of our product is ultimately to influence the user’s decisions by providing data that is on-the-spot and relevant, while not being invasive and disruptive to their shopping experience. As such, we spent a lot of time experimenting with different flows and possibilities for communicating the necessary information to the user.

Onboarding

Being able to accurately gauge the political views and opinions of users is a key part of Dollar Vote. However, through user testing, we found that presenting the user with long lists of questions and issues to choose from immediately could intimidate them and keep them from completing the onboarding process.

Thus, we implemented a topic tiles feature, allowing users to first narrow down the categories that they are interested in answering further questions about.

We identify topics a user cares about most within our onboarding flow, showing them a list of topic tiles and allowing them to choose topics that interest them most. On the following screen, we ask questions most related to the user’s chosen topics

The questions are built on an “strongly disagree -> strongly agree” scale, letting users weigh how much they care about different issues. This allows 1) the user to better represent their own personal views, and 2) us to filter for brands more accurately.

Product in Action

After a user completes our onboarding flow, we now have all the information we need to inform them of how companies align with their political beliefs. We guide users to a URL to install our Chrome Extension which integrates seamlessly into their online shopping experience and informs them of the impact of their purchasing decisions. We implemented easy to read signals to let users gauge whether or not to purchase a product. The signals are superimposed on a product’s description and, just like the star rating, product image, and product description, contribute to a user’s decision about whether or not to purchase a product.

The user can easily scroll over any one of the signals for instant access to data and information about the company’s political contributions.

Tracking your Impact

The reality is that shopping more ethically can sometimes have tradeoffs, whether that be price, accessibility, or sacrificing familiarity. However, through our interviews and user surveys, we found that people are willing to make these tradeoffs if they feel like their contributions have substantial worth. That’s why we incorporated this progress page, allowing users to see how their everyday choices are building up into larger impact. We also offer them information about more ways to help, whether that be a petition to sign, policy to vote for, or organization to donate to.

Providing encouragement for users to keep making intentional shopping decisions.

Future Steps

We have had the wonderful opportunity to be a part of Build, Code It Forward’s incubator for students with socially impactful venture ideas.

We are currently preparing to ship our MVP! If you have any questions, feedback, or would just like to chat about our product, we would love to get in touch with you! Dollar Vote is a work in progress, and it’s one that we’re very passionate about. We believe that information is power, and DollarVote aims to equip users with just that. We can’t wait to share the finished product!

SEP Berkeley

Stories about entrepreneurial pursuits, passions, and life lessons.

Dollar Vote

Written by

SEP Berkeley

Stories about entrepreneurial pursuits, passions, and life lessons.

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