Open Call: Projects to Fix Our Democracy! – Deadline Extended to Jan 25

by: | Dec 03, 2015

We are excited to partner with the Pluribus Project for our next Innovation Fund Open Call. Apply to be considered here before January 25, 2016 at 12pm PT / 3pm ET

Ballot BoxNew Media Ventures’ work is broadly about building the pipeline of progressive innovation. We see the work Pluribus is doing to fix our democracy as a critical pre-condition to building progressive change. We hope this joint Open Call makes it easier for innovative projects to find the support they need while taking advantage of NMV’s and Pluribus’ unique areas of expertise. You can learn more about this Open Call below!

Note: New Media Ventures solicits applications for funding twice a year via its Innovation Fund Open Call. As part of this winter 2015 collaboration, NMV retains sole discretion on its investment decisions. 


The Pluribus Project – a special initiative with the Aspen Institute dedicated to building the political power of the many – and New Media Ventures – an expert in impact investing and catalyzing innovation in civic technology – are joining forces for this Open Call in order to tackle the big and urgent challenge of fixing our democracy so that our nation’s government better represents the American people.

Specifically, we are seeking efforts that encourage more genuine representation in our republic so it comes closer to truly being of the people, by the people, and for the people.  Have a project we should consider? Learn more and apply now!

Pluribus Project’s Mission: A more representative democracy

America’s system of elected representation is a fundamental pillar of our democracy. Today, that system is being held hostage by the big donors, party elites, and partisan ideologues on whom candidates for elected office depend for their success.

Our nation’s founders envisioned a republic in which the people would be the ultimate source of power.  Today’s reality falls far short. We believe it’s time to disrupt how political campaigns are run so that we’re electing representatives who are accountable to all, beholden to none, and committed to getting things done for their constituents.

And now is the time: voter turnout is dropping while public frustration with the political status quo is at historic highs, the largest and most diverse generation ever is entering the electorate, and new technologies are transforming how we communicate and disrupting entrenched interests across industries.  Yet, how campaigns for political office operate on both sides of the aisle is increasingly outdated and influence is increasingly concentrated.  Think about it, the current campaign typically relies on pollsters calling landlines, negative ads on live television, and donors who can fund these expensive tactics.

We want to work with innovators, researchers, and responsible citizens to help create a new playbook – a People Powered Playbook  – that incentivizes candidates to feel more accountable to, and ultimately to represent, the full diversity of their electorate.

We believe that with a sense of collective purpose, some trial and error, and the ingenuity of the many (that’s you), there is real opportunity right now to reinvent how our political campaigns are run and ultimately, to help create a more representative and responsive democracy that will improve the lives of Americans for generations to come.

What are we looking for in this Joint Call?

We aim to select and support approximately 10 proposals that work towards a goal of fixing our democracy by enhancing the role of people in the process.  These will include early-stage, for-profit and nonprofit ventures as well as research projects based on rigorous field experimentation.

Selected projects (both ventures and research) will be eligible for financial support, ranging from $10,000 to $100,000, from the Pluribus Project and its network of foundation and individual donors, and will be featured to additional donors and potential supporters through various media and events including the Aspen Ideas Festival.  Selected ventures will also be eligible for $50,000 in funding (grants for nonprofits, investments in for-profits) from the New Media Ventures (NMV) Innovation Fund, along with participation in the NMV startup support program and access to NMV’s network of angel investors and grant-makers.

Selection Criteria

All projects selected as part of the portfolio will be about fixing our democracy.  We are particularly interested in projects that disrupt how our campaigns work so that candidates can mount a competitive campaign while relying on a broader cross-section of their electorate.  Not sure your project is a fit?  Check out more on our mission and track-specific criteria here, and when in doubt, apply!

When is the deadline and how do I apply?

Deadline for applications is January 25, 2016 at 12pm PT/3pm ET.

Apply Now!

Questions? Join our informational webinars:

December 9th at 3pm ET/12pm PT, or
December 17th at 3pm ET/12pm PT
To sign up, please RSVP to

Other questions?  Check out our FAQs here or email

How to Create A Great Pitch Deck

by: | Jun 19, 2015

We’ve been getting a lot of questions about what a good pitch deck looks like from the startups applying to the Innovation Fund. Here are a few of our favorite resources, amongst the great many you can find online.

A basic pitch deck should follow Guy Kawasaki’s 10/20/30 rule – this ensure you include all the important elements of a pitch, without being overwhelming. If you’re looking for details on what should go on each page, one of our favorite posts about pitch decks is Pascal Finette’s What Every Entrepreneur Should Learn About Pitching.

That’s it, look no further.

If you already have a deck and need some inspiration to take it to the next level, the links below can help you fine tune your pitch (this is by no means a requirement for the Innovation Fund):

  • Nextview ventures has put together a fairly exhaustive slide deck template, tailored specifically to seed-stage ventures. It’s a great resource, especially if you are not a powerpoint wizard.
  • If you’re looking for ideas on how to tell a story during your pitch, Jason Shen has identified 11 different pitch archetypes and outlined which kinds of startups should use which story outline.
  • We find the best practices above can apply to nonprofits as well as mission-driven for-profits. That said, Adele Waugaman’s tips on developing nonprofit pitch decks can be helpful as well.

Each investor is different so what do we care most about? When you boil it down, at New Media Ventures, we care most about the following 3 things:

  1. Just enough information. A pitch deck should contain only the essentials. We have limited time to review each deck and would rather be intrigued than overwhelmed.
  2. Clearly explain what you do, how you do it, and who you do it for. Sounds basic enough, right? This is where we often see entrepreneurs fail. As a founder, you know more about your company than anyone else does, so it can be easy to think you’re being clear when you’re not. User stories can be a great tool for explain what you do: “Meet Maria… Maria is… Maria has this problem… With our solution, she will be able to…”. It’s simple and easy to understand.
  3. Tailored to us. While you definitely shouldn’t create a deck from scratch for each potential investor or grant-maker, it should be clear how your work aligns with your audience’s goals. For example, startups pitching New Media Ventures should clearly articulate how their work creates progressive change.

Good luck with your pitch deck! We’re looking forward to seeing it in your Innovation Fund application (deadline: June 28 2015) or whenever our paths cross.