Michael Slaby, who worked on both of Barack Obama s presidential campaigns, founded a company in 2013 called Timshel that offers Democratic political candidates software to reach supporters, raise money and host grass-roots events.

Backed by Alphabet Inc. Chairman Eric Schmidt, Chicago-based Timshel is working with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton s campaign, which has paid more than $460,000 for the services, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission.

On the Republican side, companies include Targeted Victory, a digital advertising company co-founded by Zac Moffatt, who served as digital director for Mitt Romney s 2012 presidential bid, and i360, a data and technology firm backed by the Koch brothers, Charles and David.

To survive and grow many startups have sought to broaden their client base.

The same technology that helps political campaigns reach specific groups of voters and donors can be put to work for a car dealer trying to contact new customers or a movie studio seeking publicity, Mr. Moffatt said.

Blue State Digital Inc., a Democratic digital media and technology company founded by veterans of Howard Dean s 2004 presidential run, started out with a pure political focus, but made a concerted push to broaden its client base in 2008, said founder Joe Rospars, who worked as chief digital strategist for the 2008 and 2012 Obama presidential campaigns.

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