Geoffrey Underwood may be the only person on the planet who reads virtually every public policy report published in the United States and Europe-or, quite frankly, wants to. Like many entrepreneurs, the Washington, DC, policy wonk has taken an onerous task and turned it into a profitable enterprise.
The owner of Think Tanks Network, a one-man homebased business launched last July, plows through 75 policy reports each week and condenses them into an online newsletter for a client base that includes legislators, public relations agencies, lobbying groups, Wall Street firms and universities. The convenience Underwood provides his clients, who need to stay on top of public policy developments, comes with a hefty price tag: Subscriptions cost up to $1,500 for 50 issues. He expects revenues of $250,000 at the end of his first full year.
"This business gives me an interesting perspective," says Underwood, 28, who started this business with $25,000 in personal savings and a small business loan when he grew tired of working for The Heritage Foundation (a traditional think-tank), and for a DC-based PR firm specializing in public policy issues. "I learn what people in the U.S. and Europe are thinking about issues, and I put it all together." Underwood also writes a media-targeted report for Policy.com called Campaign Context, which provides information related to candidates' positions. The site now has him writing a biweekly column as well. "When a candidate gives a speech, journalists are able to find out what current public policy is on the subject, and that will put the speech in perspective," he explains. "It will help us get away from all those horse-race stories and discuss real issues."
Think Tanks Network, (202) 363-0863, www.thinktanks.net