Photos of Terrance Woodbury by Blair Devereaux
Tell us about HIT Strategies:
HIT is the most diverse polling firm in Washington, DC but we operate a lot more like a Silicon Valley shop. Young. Dynamic. Disruptive. We have recruited and trained a team of researchers that truly represent the communities that we specialize in and use our lived experiences at the intersections of society to understand the hardest to reach communities.
This expertise with groups that are otherwise misunderstood or underrepresented in research has allowed us to tackle some of societies toughest challenges in our 2 short years open. From getting young people that don’t use the mail to actually vote by mail. To getting people of color that are justifiably cynical toward pharmaceutical companies to take a vaccine that did not even exist when we started. We started HIT to fill these voids and we are so honored to have had such a prolific impact in such a short time.
Why did you become an entrepreneur?
I had no choice. If the company that I wanted to work for existed I would have gone to work there. But I couldn’t find a polling firm In America that was run by people of color, and young people to service people of color and young people; a firm that wanted to completely revolutionize the way we collect, understand, and influence public opinion. There are some firms that are doing some of those things, but none that are doing all of those things.
When my partner Roshni and I decided to take this leap of faith it was to
1) Build the firm that we both wanted to work for.
2) To correct the record on the young people and people of color that are diversifying America much faster than researchers and analyst are diversifying how they understand them.
3) To create a new class of diverse researchers that will continue reshaping this industry in HITs theory of change even as they become HIT alum. Just 2 years in I am thrilled to say HIT missions accomplished. Now we scale.
What makes your company so unique?
HITs identity is so unique in this industry and so foundational to our mission. We quite literally are what we do. HIT is owned by two millennials in an industry dominated by professionals who are much older. I am LGBTQ Black man. My partner Roshni Nedungadi, is an Asian American woman. And the HIT Team represents the cross sections of America that are changing the fastest and represented the least. We exist to fix that. Secondly, we are innovative and nimble. The polling industry has operated the same way for 50+ years…call people on the phone and read them a bunch of long questions. We are using text messages, social media, and other technologies to reach the people that don’t answer land lines because they will never even have one. Finally, we tackle the issues that others avoid and over the next few weeks will be conducting focus groups to understand attitudes about Defund the police, Critical Race Theory, and Sister SCOTUS….an effort to place the first Black woman on the Supreme Court.
In two years of entrepreneurship, how has your business grown?
Exponentially. Divinely. Beyond our wildest expectations. HIT has grown at least 400% in both of our first 2 years. One of those years was during the recession brought on by COVID-19. We founded this company in 2019 with one client and now have 50+ clients that represent the titans of progressive politics, private sector, and non-profits. The HIT Team has also grown from just me and Roshni to 18 full time employees and 6 consultants. We have added on average 1 new team member every month since we opened our doors and are currently looking to scale up with 8 new hires for what will certainly be an intense 2022 midterm election. We like to call HIT our baby, well this baby got real big, real fast. Now she’s walking, got plenty to say, is demanding everybody’s attention, and getting into all kinds of stuff we didn’t think she’d be getting into until she was much older. Like any other first time parents, we’re learning as we go and adapting to whatever the baby needs next.
What is the proudest moment you have thus far, and why?
Everyday I wake up and go to work in a company that we built, solving the problems I care about the most, with a HIT team that is committed to our mission, and clients that are changing the world…that is my proudest moment everyday.
On Mother’s Day of 2021 I lost my beloved mother to her battle with cancer. She was unwaveringly committed to my success, and by extension HITs success. For the last year of her life she worked behind the scenes in every way that she could to advance HIT and I know she continues to do that every day in spirit. That is what makes me the most proud…I know what I do every day at HIT is #mymothersbusiness.
What kind of experience will your clients have when working with you?
Our clients don’t just work with HIT, they join HIT. They join a broad network of partners with shared values, and shared mission, and a shared destination. But most important, our clients join a network of knowledge that allows them to learn across the 1000s of interviews and 100s of focus groups that we conduct each year.
How critical is the black vote?
It’s so critical that we sometimes argue the Black vote is the most critical, especially for Democrats. Right now, Black voters truly have the power to swing elections and choose Presidents. Our community is just beginning to realize this power. So much of our work involves making sure Black voters know that what they did with President’s Barack Obama and Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and Senator Raphael Warnock in Georgia can be done everywhere. That’s part of why you see 18 states attempting to pass restrictive voting laws in the wake of the 2021 election. It’s a reaction to the perceived power of the Black vote. As we head into the 2022 election, the Black vote should be among the top priorities for Democrats and it’s hard to argue that any other group is more critical to winning.
What’s next for HIT Strategies?
We plan to grow and work on the big issues of our time. HIT Strategies is going to be heavily involved in getting the most vulnerable communities vaccinated. The latest Delta variant of the virus has begun to reverse the country’s early success at a lowering rate of contractions. We will be vigilant about solving this critical issue of vaccination hesitancy, apathy, and accessibility with our partners. We also have a slate of history-making candidates across the country including Florida Gubernatorial Candidate Nikki Fried, South Carolina Gubernatorial Candidate Mia McLeod, Maryland Gubernatorial Candidate Mike Rosenbaum, Arkansas Gubernatorial Candidate Chris Jones, and Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin. HIT is just getting.
Terrance Woodbury is a founding partner and chief executive officer of HIT Strategies.
Terrance’s research focuses on people of color and millennials who have become the driving force of rapidly evolving consumer and electoral trends in both the United States and abroad. Prior to starting HIT Strat, Terrance was the Research Director at the public opinion research firm Brilliant Corners Research & Strategies where he conducted polling and focus groups for candidates in local, state, national, and international elections and for companies like Uber and Google. Before Brilliant Corners, Terrance worked at the Brookings Institution, where he researched and studied economic and demographic trends shaping the fast-growing urban communities.
Before deciding to become a data scientist, political work consumed Terrance professional life. He worked numerous campaigns at the local, state, national, and international level, holding every position on a campaign except the candidate. Terrance has been featured in a variety of publications and media outlets including CNN, The Hill, and Bloomberg News for his expertise on the attitudes of young, diverse voters and the best messages to mobilize them.