Vishal Disawar, Co-founder of Grove AI
“We [Vishal and co-founder Bernard] both got into this after the 2016 elections. We wanted to give Democrats the tools they needed to reach people at scale, and to have meaningful conversations in order to get people involved with the Resistance and elections to elect more Democrats and pass more progressive laws, in 2017, 2018, and beyond.”
Meet Vishal Disawar. Vishal is an organizer passionate about using technology to push for progressive values and getting people engaged. He worked on the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign doing digital in Wisconsin and was a Fellow at Higher Ground Labs, a political tech accelerator. You can connect with Vishal via Twitter.
What Does He Do?
Vishal is the co-founder of Grove AI, a platform for Democrats and progressives to build Facebook Messenger chatbots for organizing. He joined the Civic Hall community in February, with Bernard Wang, his co-founder, as Entrepreneurs-in-Residence.
How Did He Get Into This Work?
Vishal’s family raised him with a strong sense of volunteerism. The family emigrated from India by way of the Philippines, settling in Naperville, a western suburb of Chicago. “The Social Network Movie” was a touchpoint for him, inspiring him to study computer science, “…As first-generation immigrants, using tech to build something from scratch – that became my American Dream.”
When he was a student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, not only was Vishal double majoring in computer science and poly sci, but he became an organizer working to pass a law that would enable undocumented students to be eligible for financial aid. While the Student Access to College and Career-Education for Statewide Success Bill (i.e., “ACCESS”) passed the State Senate, it continues to languish in the House. In addition, as soon as FWD.us was launched, Vishal joined up, engaged by the idea of tech for good.
“We [Vishal and co-founder Bernard] both got into this after the 2016 elections. We wanted to give Democrats the tools they needed to reach people at scale and to have meaningful conversations in order to get people involved with the Resistance and elections to elect more Democrats and pass more progressive laws, in 2017, 2018, and beyond.”
What Project Is He Working On?
So far, Grove AI’s chatbots have been used by campaigns for volunteer recruitment work. Last year the
Democratic National Committee asked Grove to build them a bot to engage turnout in Virginia and they pushed out “GINNY” (yep, short for Virginia) — which contributed to a massive Democratic victory.
“Our Ginny bot drove thousands of conversations with volunteers interested in getting involved our Virginia digital and ground OOCW organizing program. When prompted, Ginny began a conversation on Facebook messages, asking prospective volunteers to make calls using a virtual dialer, send texts, or donate.”
How Did He Come to Civic Hall?
Coming off their fellowship at Higher Ground, Vishal and Bernard were looking for a space to work out of in NYC: “Everyone knows about Civic Hall. It was top of our list to be here.”
During their tour of our space, Paramjot Kaur told them about the Entrepreneurs in Residence program. “We applied to the EIR program and were accepted. We wanted to come to Civic Hall to be around people aligned with similar missions of using technology to create impactful change.”
What Is His Ask of Civic Hall?
Vishal is excited to be part of Civic Hall. He and Bernard are interested in informal Meetups, happy hours, and demos.
“We want to learn from this community! We want to learn from organizers how to help make their work more impactful and learn from technologists on how they go about solving problems in the civic space. We additionally want to give back with our experiences and learnings in the civic tech space.”
If you’d like to sign up as a beta user for Grove AI, fill out this form.
— in New York, New York.