Polco, a Madison company that conducts online surveys about community issues, has snagged $4 million from investors, half in equity and half as a loan, and used the money to make its first acquisition.

Polco, founded four years ago, has bought National Research Center (NRC), a 25-year-old survey research firm based in Boulder, Colorado.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

NRC is known for its National Community Survey involving 500 cities — a way communities can compare the local population’s response to issues that involve, for example, roads, policing and parks.

Polco has contracts with 75 cities in 25 states, CEO and co-founder Nick Mastronardi said. “Half of our cities use it for resident satisfaction polls; the other half use it for hot-topic opinion polls,” he said.

Polco screen shot

Polco users can create accounts that let them vote on public policy issues posted online by their municipal leaders.

Mastronardi declined to disclose annual revenue.

Polco and NRC will retain their own identities and specialization but will be able to share technical strengths, said Mastronardi, who is also CEO of NRC now. He said NRC founder Tom Miller, who remains on the Polco/NRC board, earned his bachelor’s degree from UW-Madison.

Mastronardi said he expects Polco and NRC to offer new features this fall “combining the scientific surveys and benchmarking analysis that NRC does with the frequency and ease of Polco and backend dashboards that city officials get.”

Mastronardi said Polco can break down data on poll participants such as their age bracket, gender and precinct, without disclosing their identity.

Polco has offices at the StartingBlock Madison entrepreneurial hub and in Middleton, at 8001 Terrace Ave. Polco and NRC each have about 12 employees.

The 2016 winner of the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce’s Pressure Chamber pitch competition, Polco has raised a total of about $7 million so far. The new funding round was led by Hivers and Strivers, a Washington, D.C.-based angel (individual) investment group consisting mainly of U.S. military veterans.

Mastronardi is a U.S. Air Force veteran and Reserve member.

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