Class of 2020 alumni found political consulting firm

June 2, 2021 — by Nicole Lu
Photo by New Way Forward Strategies

The New Way Forward Strategies website homepage.

Class of 2020 alumnus Sathvik Kaliyur and his co-workers can still remember the day his political consulting startup, New Way Forward Strategies, received its first client last October. After months of developing the company, getting a message from the client was both a hard-earned success and an indication of what was to come.

While the firm was created in early 2020, Kaliyur noted that the team only started developing it in July. It had taken them a few months to secure their first client. As the clients came in, the workload began to increase.

After working on various political campaigns throughout high school for figures such as San Jose councilmember Chappie Jones, Saratoga councilmember Rishi Kumar and Millbrae councilmember Annie Oliva, Kaliyur decided to join with fellow Class of 2020 alumnus Harsha Ramachandran and Class of 2019 alumni Manit Sripadam and Rohan Pandey to form the firm. 

Kaliyur is finishing his freshman year at UCSD studying cognitive science while Ramachandran studies computer engineering at the University of Michigan; Sripadam studies decision science at Carnegie Mellon University and Pandey is a undergraduate at UCSC studying computer engineering. Since Sripadam and Pandey are no longer involved, juniors Jonathan Li and Dhruv Singh stepped in to form the founding team. Additionally, the firm has an intern base of over 50 undergraduates, graduates and high school students across the nation. 

Like Kaliyur, the team members are familiar with  working on political campaigns. According to the firm’s website, “every member of our core team has been in the leadership of major campaigns from state senate and congressional races to city council races.” As of right now, NWF Strategies is focusing its efforts on minority outreach and the applications of artificial intelligence and machine learning in running low-cost and catered campaign services. They generally only work with Democrats, but occasionally work with bipartisan advocacy organizations as well.

“Political consulting is generally about providing the tools that campaigns, interest groups and issue advocacy organizations need to achieve their goals,” Kaliyur said. “That being said, NWF does general consulting for campaigns — we do whatever a client needs, but our team primarily focuses on minority voter mobilization, volunteer base development and opposition research.”

While client information is kept confidential for privacy, Kaliyur said that the NWF team has worked with issue advocacy organizations and clients across five different states from municipal to congressional races since its incorporation. They offer services in municipal, multi-county and statewide levels, helping candidates of all professions plan campaign research and appeal to voters.

For Kaliyur, who was also the former president of the school’s Democracy Matters club, this startup organization was an almost inevitable step given his interests. 

“I spent a lot of time memorizing election results in high school and even before, and at one point, I realized that I could put that to use,” he said. “Because of that memorization, I can go into most areas of the country with at least a general understanding of local political dynamics.”

As the CEO, Kaliyur’s main responsibilities are to “bring new clients to the firm and work directly with clients to ensure they are having their campaign’s needs met.” Given his own positive experiences as a high school intern and the push for greater youth civic engagement, the team also began accepting interns from all over the country as the demand for consulting grew.

The roles of each intern in the firm vary from data analytics to operations: For example, those interested in research assist with opposition research, policy research and the management of field data, while others intrigued by advertising and marketing help with designing flyers, graphics and other outreach materials. Each intern sends a cover letter and resume to the organization’s email address, after which they are able to branch out into different departments.

“On a day-to-day basis, we all complete briefs on opposition, research donor history, and present findings to various clients,” founding member Singh said. “Working with Sathvik has been great through it all. He’s collaborative and open to hearing alternate perspectives on campaign-related issues we discuss.”

As NWF Strategies continues into 2021 with an eager intern team and motivated leadership, Kaliyur hopes to further their influence across the nation.

“We recently expanded to congressional races, and I am hoping to continue to expand to larger scale races like gubernatorial elections and Senate contests,” Kaliyur. “It’s been exciting seeing the diverse clientele we work with, so we plan to expand our work with issue advocacy organizations.”

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