Entrepreneur aims to tackle political apathy

A digital entrepreneur is hoping to turn his life around with the launch of a new online polling platform.

Matthew Seavers: Inspiration for DemografiQ came when he had hit rock bottom.

Matthew Seavers is launching DemografiQ, a website that allows users to vote on political issues of the day.

Mr Seavers, who is from Shipley, says the inspiration for DemografiQ came two years ago when he hit “rock bottom”. Mr Seavers was arrested and convicted for cannabis production in 2014.

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“It’s something I’m not proud of at all,” he recalls.

“I’d lost my previous business some years before. I was arrested and convicted two years ago for cannabis production and I was facing four to eight years in prison. It really made me take stock of my life and change.”

The web designer of eight years was handed a chance to turn his life around by the judicial system in July 2014.

“I received a suspended two-year sentence for which I was lucky to get 300 hours of community service,” he told The Yorkshire Post.

The community services was in itself “rewarding” as he looked to get his life back on track.

Mr Seavers said: “It changed my whole perception. For instance my view of the police and the justice system has completely changed. I feel that they gave me a chance.

“They could have come down a lot harder on me. I could have been in prison. My barrister said to me when I went in ‘you’re not coming out today’. It really made me take stock, it changed my views, it changed my attitude to everything.”

The ex-offender turned back to his passion of politics in order to make the most of his second chance.

He said: “One of the things that I thought about was when I was 16 up until my early 20s I was very politically involved. I used to follow it all the time, I used to vote and I used to express my opinion.”

However, as time wore on Mr Seavers says he became “cynical” and “insular”. Now the entrepreneur is hoping to rekindle his interest in politics and give others an opportunity to share their opinions.

“In essence what the aim of DemografiQ is is to find out what people think are the most important issues for them locally and nationally and for them to be able to freely voice their opinion on them,” he said.

DemografiQ will differ from traditional polling companies such as YouGov and Ipsos Mori, who poll sample sets. The website will also be user driven.

Over the next couple of years, Mr Seavers is aiming to build a user-base for DemografiQ.

He said: “To get the word out there quickly to as many people as possible I’m talking to the National Union of Students (NUS) because one important thing about DemografiQ is it’s from the age of 16 upwards.

“I’m also talking to the Local Government Association to try and attract local councillors to use it. I think it would be a good tool for local councillors to canvass opinion on things that are happening in their constituency.”

Mr Seavers hopes that his new platform will go some way to tackling political apathy in the UK and bridge the gap between Westminster and the public.

The web platform will be free to use but Mr Seavers plans on monetising it, further down the line, by licensing data to local government, quangos, education authorities and media organisations.