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Build a Political Debate Site And Young People Will Come

ALTCHEK-Policymic-Logo-colorWhile many college grads are out interviewing and looking for jobs, Chris Altchek took the entrepreneurial plunge. The Rye native, along with a friend, launched his own business, a novel website and news feed called Policymic.com. The interactive forum was designed to give young people a place to join the national conversation on major topics of the day.

 

By Holly Kennedy

 

ALTCHEK-IMG 0149While many college grads are out interviewing and looking for jobs, Chris Altchek took the entrepreneurial plunge. The Rye native, along with a friend, launched his own business, a novel website and news feed called Policymic.com. The interactive forum was designed to give young people a place to join the national conversation on major topics of the day.

 

“The idea was born when Jake Horowitz (co-founder and high school friend) and I were having a discussion about politics,” said Chris, “and the fact that while many of our friends are as politically passionate as we are that there was no place for any of us to voice our views.”

 

The duo set out to build such a site. They already have seven employees and five summer interns.


Targeted to the digital native (the under-30 crowd) population, policymic.com aims to re-engage young people in the political arena by enabling them to participate in a social conversation about topics of the day, much as one might have with friends. Contributors are not journalists, but young people around the world who want to contribute their perspective and expertise on political, economic, environmental, and scientific subjects.

 

“We knew a lot of people who were working on inspiring and selfless projects but didn’t have a platform from which to spread and discuss their ideas. And we knew so many others who were losing interest in politics because they didn’t have a compelling place to stay involved” he said.  

 

“The partisan tone of most political news turns young people off, and most political news outlets and blogs fail to cover issues from our perspective, leaving our generation wondering how political issues will actually affect our lives.” Chris added, “Young people also expect interactivity in their online experience, which major news providers do not offer.”

 

Policymic works quite simply. One starts as a reader, and if a topic peaks your interest, you can post a comment, called a ‘Mic’ in policymic terminology.

 

“The system is designed to reward thoughtful participation and hook our audience,” said Chris.

 

As a reader’s ‘Mic’ count increases, he can ascend through different levels from “Commentator” to “Pundit” and unlock new privileges, which include the ability to write longer comments and gain greater visibility.

 

Chris, who majored in social studies at Harvard, and Jake, who majored in Middle East history and politics at Stanford, have ambitious plans. “Our goal is to engage and empower our generation into making its voice heard in politics. In the meantime, we want to prove that smart political discussion can happen online on a massive scale,” said Chris.

 

By the end of its first month of operation, Policymic.com had featured over 1,000 articles from 320 writers on topics ranging from national and global politics to the environment and the economy.  The most popular topics Mic’d to date: the GOP presidential primaries, Middle East issues related to the Arab Spring, public education issues, and gender-equality questions. The co-founders hope that by next spring Policymic.com will be publishing 30 thoughtful articles a day, have 10,000 active users, and attract 1,000,000 unique users a month.

 

With a background in banking and experience working in politics, Chris describes his transformation into an entrepreneur as incredibly rewarding. “I recommend start-ups and social enterprises to recent graduates thinking about their future. Having been fortunate enough to come from such a special community as Rye, with access to a great education and a thoughtful network, it’s important to follow your dreams and try to do something meaningful with your career. There's no better time than now.”


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