Polco wins Pressure Chamber Pitch Night

By Polo Rocha, WisBusiness

PressureChamberLogo-Hi-Res-500x236-300x141Polco co-founder and CEO Nick Mastronardi says he’s thrilled his company won last night’s annual Pressure Chamber Pitch Night in Madison.

“It’s amazing,” he told WisBusiness.com after the event. “It’s really exciting for our company, an early stage company trying to tackle a big problem. We need all the help we can get and support, and that the community is behind us as we tackle these big problems is really exciting for us.”

The contest, now in its third year, gives Madison-area startups the chance to compete for a free trip to pitch to Silicon Valley investors. And this year, the so-called “golden suitcase” went to Polco, whose technology helps local governments better connect with their citizens on policy proposals.

Mastronardi, a 35-year-old US Air Force Reserve officer, taught economics at the U.S. Air Force Academy and was a senior economist at the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

He also was in his first year as a senior economist at Amazon when he decided to pack up and head to to an accelerator in Texas to focus on his startup.

“It’s hard to quantify the intensity of the passion he has, the work he’s put in and what he’s given up to pursue Polco,” said Michael Ertmer, who leads the Bunker Labs @ Wisconsin program for military veteran entrepreneurs at University Research Park that Polco is a part of.

Polco is currently working with Dane County, the city of Whitewater and several other local governments across the country. Those governments, Mastronardi said, often struggle with getting citizens engaged in the policy-making process and usually only have input from the few people who show up to the city council meetings or respond to mailers and landline calls. Read more …

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