TickBox: Matthew Morley
The young founder on how his start-up will shape the way people engage with government elections and why he's already planning global expansion
Tell us what your business does:
TickBox is a unique, innovative digital platform that is designed to encourage engagement in real politics and active democracy. We include every candidate in every constituency to guarantee impartiality.
Voters express their policy preferences to see how they compare with candidates but also influence the political agenda by active interaction with candidates (both before and after election). The platform is easily scalable and is mobile responsive, making it easy for voters and candidates to interact. This is a paradigm shift from politicians’ traditional world of doorstep, stump and broadcast media.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
Voter participation in U.K. parliamentary and local government elections is at an historic low. Young people in particular, but not exclusively, are disenchanted with the political process. Extremist and anti-establishment parties are growing in popularity across Europe. Voters say they lack accessible, understandable and impartial information; they do not trust politicians; and they see no perceptible result from their participation. In summary, there is no information, no trust and no reward.
How did you know there was a market for it?
There are over 2.3 billion voters in 75 ‘democracies’. An average UK voter can potentially vote on 16 democratically elected bodies in a year. There is both breadth (worldwide) and depth (within one country) to connect with those voters. Over 110,000 voters have used our platform for elections for European Parliament, a City Council, Scottish Referendum and 13 student unions. Student Unions are promising to promote us to 1.1 million students.
We’re are now targeting the UK General Election with positive comments from political parties and government.
What were you doing before starting up?
Before TickBox I was studying history at the University of Exeter. I have put my degree on hold and taken a sabbatical year to deliver the General Election 2015 and build a team around it.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
Not particularly. I’ve always wanted to have freedom to work on things I find interesting, I get bored incredibly quickly! I think you have two options when it comes to doing what you enjoy, either get high up in an existing company or create your own.
How did you raise the money?
Our first investment was from local angel investors in the Exeter region.
Describe your business model and how you make money:
We are a multi sided platform that aims to generate revenue in a variety of ways. We service two very distinct markets and are currently working with organisations in a multitude of sectors to achieve our social and commercial goals.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
Our primary challenges revolve around getting access to information on every candidate from every party and locating it in one place, not even the government collects this information. By building using Google technology and collaborating directly with the government we have been able to produce a large data set which would not have been previously possible.
What was your first big breakthrough?
We trailed a very small version of TickBox for the European Election 2014. Within 36 hours of launch we had over 40,000 users and had been catapulted to the front page of the Independent’s online platform.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Do what you love, believe in your business and have fun, there is no point in doing something if you don’t enjoy it.
Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
I aim to be deploying TickBox to countries around the world. With invitations from several countries including India we aim to begin building a platform that becomes the home of elections globally.