Today’s guest is Alex Pedersen, an Air Force Academy graduate and veteran who is now the Chief Operating Officer at Polco, a civic engagement and analytics company. Its primary product is a web-based platform for local governments to get input from their communities and then use that data to drive decisions.
Alex and I met at VETCON 2017 in March, where he competed against several other veteran entrepreneurs for $10,000 in funding. It was his first “official” pitch but he’s be informally promoting Polco for a few years now.
Alex graduated high school in 2004 and driven by the events of 9/11 decided he wanted to serve his country. After hearing about the Air Force academy from a friend he decided it would be the best place to challenge himself, not just physically but academically as well. Once he graduated and was pinned a 2nd lieutenant in the Air Force he was accepted to grad school. He attended Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government where he earned his Masters in Public Policy, focusing on International and Global Affairs.
He spent his operational time in the Air Force deployed to Germany where he acted in an advisory role to the Joint Terminal Attack Controllers stationed there within the US Army. He later returned to the Air Force Academy as an instructor in Political Science. It’s here that he meets Nick Mastronardi, a fellow Air Force officer and instructor. From their discussions while teaching at the academy the groundwork would be laid for developing the idea that turns into Polco.
I’ll let you listen to the rest of his story in the interview. Some of the main topics we cover are:
- What it was like to attend and pitch his company at VETCON, a conference specifically for veteran entrepreneurs.
- The biggest strength he took from the military and applied to his civilian career and entrepreneurship.
- His decision to leave an amazing career at Google to join in on building a company from the ground up.
- How Polco educates city officials and helps bridge the divide between constituents and those making policy decisions.
- Examples of policies the Polco platform has helped cities develop and vote on.
- Much more…
Links from the show:
The Polco website – find out more, reach out, and try out a demo!
Alex’s book recommendation: Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise