Posted 12/3/2018 12:00 am
Updated 1 week ago
LobbyUp, a legislative bill tracking company headquartered in Conway, completed a $750,000 expansion to 14 states on Nov. 6. It wasn’t planning an Election Day stunt; the company simply missed its Nov. 1 goal by a hair.
LobbyUp is an app and embeddable web portal that pulls data from state websites into a faster and more user-friendly system.
Among other things, users can:
► Search for filed bills using a keyword;
► Look at the activity, sponsors of and votes on a bill;
► Get notified when a bill’s status changes;
► Find out when a bill will come before a legislative committee;
► Get notified when a bill is filed that matches a keyword they’ve saved; and
► Discover who their legislators are.
The company hopes to add the ability to track congressional legislation by March and to have data from all 50 states by December 2019, according to founder, CEO and President Bradley Phillips.
He is also a lobbyist at Phillips Management & Consulting of Conway, the firm of his father, Bill Phillips, and the owner of 75 percent of LobbyUp.
The other 25 percent is owned by LobbyUp CTO Mike Ortner, who is also CEO of software development agency North Two Five of Conway.
LobbyUp now offers data on legislative sessions in Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas and Virginia.
For nine years, it served only those interested in Arkansas legislation.
LobbyUp has gained more than 50,000 users over time and has always been profitable, Phillips said. It self-funded the expansion and has little debt.
LobbyUp makes money a number of ways, through the three versions of its app: Free, Plus and Pro. Included in the Pro subscription is another product, a web portal, or “mini version of the app” that can embed on a user’s website.
The free app includes “Find Your Legislator,” which identifies for users who their state legislators are; a legislator directory; a directory of committees and state offices; and the ability to search with a keyword for a bill that has been filed.
Free app users are charged for one service, bill tracking. That costs them 99 cents per bill. They receive push notifications when action is taken on a bill they’ve chosen to track.
LobbyUp Plus is the next step up. It costs $60 per month or $700 per year and offers unlimited tracking of bills, saved keyword searches, a calendar that shows when bills that users have chosen to track will come before a committee, and printable committee agendas.
LobbyUp Pro costs $779 per year. It has all of the Free and Plus features as well as the web portal, the ability to automate the creation of customized reports on bill activity and the ability to add more than one user to an account.
Phillips founded the company because “your everyday person was priced out of the market.” He said LobbyUp stands apart from competitors because it is less expensive, has “upfront pricing” and offers a 15-day free trial instead of requiring customers to schedule an in-person demonstration.
He also founded the company because he wanted to use technology to better track bills for his father’s lobbying firm. “I was presented with a challenge: How do I develop something that is technologically advanced enough to take advantage of everything I need it to but, also, that my 70-year-old father has to use,” he said.
The company, with just four full-time employees, is still startup-sized, though Phillips doesn’t consider LobbyUp a startup because of its age and profitability.
Its full-time people include Ortner, the CTO. He heads up a 17-person development team that fluctuates in size as needed, Phillips said. LobbyUp has also hired Dave Creek Media of Conway to serve as its marketing arm.
The company’s target markets for the Plus and Pro versions of its app are advocacy groups, nonprofits, associations, lobbying firms and law firms. The Pro version is offered at no cost to journalists.
Phillips added that the “awesome” thing about marketing LobbyUp is everybody can benefit from it. “Everybody that knows there’s a [legislative] session wants a tool,” he said. “Whenever I run out of people who know what a session is, then I can educate people on what a session is. And when you say, ‘Did you know that that group right over there could pass 3,000 laws from January to March,’ nobody walks away from that conversation going ‘I don’t care.’ They have to have [LobbyUp].”