16/10/2020 - 06:30

Startups vs. Politics

16/10/2020 - 06:30


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Ahead of the City of Perth's election this Saturday, lord mayoral candidate Brodie McCulloch reflects on lessons learned.

Startups vs. Politics
Brodie McCulloch is a candidate for lord mayor in the City of Perth election this Saturday. Photo: Gabriel Oliveira

With the City of Perth council election being decided on Saturday evening, I have had a little time to think and reflect about the process - while still making calls and knocking on doors to get final votes of course - and how it has compared to my previous experience in starting up businesses and ideas in Perth.

Campaigning to become Perth’s next lord mayor has been the same process as the first year of a startup, compressed into three-and-a-half months.

This journey has involved validating whether it is a good idea, creating a vision and developing a value proposition, convincing a team of your vision, assessing competition and then working out how to best reach your customers and get them to take action, which, in this case, is voting.

The big difference is that there is a very specific end date when you know the result; this is not always the way with a startup.

Usually, you can use your learnings to then adapt your product or change your market.

This is not the case in this election. The market is fixed, and they either buy into your product, or they don’t.

The big things that have been the key differentiators for me come down to vision, value proposition, communication and teams.

Having a clear vision backed up with an actionable value proposition was important, as after the issues at the City of Perth, people wanted to clearly know what you were standing for.

Focusing on a smart, vibrant and global city, and backing up policies through my demonstrated experience building Spacecubed and delivering strong governance for more than 10 years helped drive engagement.

There was a view I had done this before and now wanted to put my energy into leading change at the City of Perth.

We knew we couldn’t compete in mainstream media due to the profile, personalities, connections and finances of some of the other candidates, which meant we needed to focus on connecting directly with voters and encouraging younger ones to not just check their mail but fill in the ballot and mail it back.

This was achieved through traditional campaigning, including door knocking, events, posters, flyers, letters and introducing new ideas like the #HackForMayor hackathon to raise awareness and drive voter registration.

We also needed to focus on digital to reach voters and tell my story through endorsements, networks of networks, videos and social media.

This has worked well, with more than 750,000 views of our digital content and thousands of direct connections with voters in the last two-and-a-half months since I announced my candidacy.

The volunteer team that came together to support me is diverse.

From a range of backgrounds and experiences, the only thing they had in common was that they didn’t have experience in politics.

All of them were passionate, talented and aligned with my vision for what Perth could be.

There is still time to get your vote in.

With slightly more than 5,000 of 15,000 votes cast across seven mayoral candidates and 27 council candidates, it is going to be extremely tight, and every vote is going to count.

You can still vote until 6pm on Saturday by dropping your ballot into Council House.

By around 9pm on Saturday night, we will know if this different approach to campaigning has worked, and if appealing to a vision and more ambitious ideas for Perth is what residents and businesses are looking for from their capital cities leadership.


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