Today’s Q&A Wedensday is with Tom Serres, founder of Piryx. The company will be launching their piryx.com and realpolitix.com websites on Friday with the goal of making technology accessible for political candidates.
How did you first get the idea for Piryx?
Piryx began as an idea three years ago when I realized I wanted to make a difference. I guess you could say I was tired of being a bystander watching the political process pass me by—I wanted a stake in the game. As an undergrad attending the University of Texas McCombs School of business, I decided to get involved—to make a change.
It began with a Judge, passionate about making a difference. Her name was Angelita Mendoza Waterhouse, a sweet woman asking if I would voluntarily help her run her campaign. I was so excited; I mean, what better way to get involved? I went in full throttle, I believed in her—and people like her. People who had a genuine passion to help others.
The rest is history. The frustration, and the miles of red tape inspired me to find ways to help others like Judge Angelita. I was tired of seeing great candidates fail purely on the premise of social inequality. She wasn’t a “good ‘ol boy.” She was a woman of conviction, passion, and unconditional love. And her passion convinced me to make a change in this country.
From there Piryx was formed. My band of brothers, Greg, Brian, Naveed and I, teamed up to offer solutions for average people interested in public service. We chose the Internet because we knew it was the new frontier of political technology.
Today, Piryx is focused on delivering efficient and economical web solutions to political entrepreneurs. We want to empower all who have a passion to serve with the tools to realize their potential. Some of the computer stuff we use everyday can revolutionize politics. We’re sharing that, and some of our own tricks, with the average political entrepreneur.
Give us the elevator pitch for Piryx?
Piryx is a community, an online medium focused on providing tools to empower the average political entrepreneur. Imagine if we could offer every political entrepreneur the technological infrastructure of the Obama campaign—in a universally user-oriented way. Take the tools of Google, the infrastructure of PayPal, and the social medium of Facebook—and you get Piryx.
How has the company been funded so far, and are you seeking any additional funding?
Piryx was bootstrapped by doing consulting for candidates to enable online outreach strategies. We developed our new system in between gigs, on the weekends, and in the evenings. After making some headway through the Houston Angel Network and UT’s social innovation competition, we were backed by an investor here in Austin. We’re currently preparing for our beta launch and actively seeking our first Series A.
What was your first “a ha” moment, when you knew you were on to something really good.
I guess you could say there were several “a ha” moments over the last few years. Most importantly it began with the judge, and experiencing the complications in helping her campaign for public office. At that point I realized, this woman couldn’t be the only one experiencing these problems. As we began working with more and more campaigns, we realized others were experiencing the same hurdles.
The next big moment came as we began developing and pitching our first business plan, not to mention what was going on in the political community. What Joe Trippi and Howard Dean began with their use of meetup.com and online fundraising, the field of politics was experiencing revolutionary moments in politics as Obama, Hillary, Romney, and McCain began utilizing advanced technologies and social media in their campaign…Suddenly our business idea soon became quite a bit more relevant. The revolution, as Joe Trippi called it, was now in full swing.
Our mission is to ignite much needed involvement among the voter community, while allowing candidates at all levels to have the tools and information they need for an equal chance on Election Day.
If we can help make politics accessible and exciting again, we’ve done our job.
What can we expect to see in the future from Piryx?
We will soon launch our Piryx.com vision site and Realpolitix.com, a non-partisan political blog about the technological revolution occurring in politics. Realpolitix.com is Piryx’s first step in empowering democracy as the company aims to emerge as the leader of content and solutions that change the way people experience the election process.
Realpolitix.com will provide emerging insight into real world political events, the evolution of technology in the political process, and a non-partisan approach to current political news. Also The Piryx.com vision site is a community that will allow members to stay current on Piryx news and events, provide blog content, and be a part of the technological movement in politics. Additionally, we’ll be launching several additional solutions throughout the presidential campaign season including an automated filing system for campaign ethics compliancy and reporting. Piryx.com will offer visitors an opportunity to request access to our beta environment. This will give a glimpse into tools that will assist them as they drive through the campaign process.
As for the future…only time will tell, but if history tells us anything…it looks really good. Piryx will be at the forefront of this, leading the renovation and restoration of politics. We’re moving into a world where online voting and virtual town halls are real possibilities. Who would have thought 4 years ago John Edwards would be advertising online in Second Life or Congressman John Culberson would be twittering from the house floor. What’s happening is truly amazing – revolutionary. As this cultural change shifts, Piryx will lead the way.