Great interview by Evan Burfield on Bloomberg TV this morning about the DC startup scene and how to harness Washington DCs unique characteristics to promote entrepreneurship. Watch and learn:
What most schools don’t teach (by CodeOrg)
By Ian Rosoff
President Obama was a start up candidate; he had a great original pitch at the 2004 democratic national convention, and from there he quickly gained momentum toppling the Clinton candidacy and shutting down popular Senator John McCain to become the first African American President in history. The President’s victory in 2008 and again on Tuesday is partly due to the superior quality of his ground game and his ability to harness technology to strengthen his campaign and volunteer efforts.
As someone who knows firsthand the power of technology in our post-industrial economy, we can continue to expect aspects of his 2nd term agenda to focus on the role technology plays in creating jobs, fostering energy security, and ensuring that America stays on the cutting edge of innovation.
The startup community can hope for a few things in particular:
The biggest specific policy initiative is the Startup 2.0 Act, which would increase the work visa availability for foreign science, tech, engineering, and math grads from American universities, as well as increase entrepreneurship visas for foreigners. Tech Crunch believes this reform is in the pipeline for next year.
Todd Park, the Chief Technology Officer, a position created in Obama’s first term, has been rolling out the President’s open government policy, which is designed to help businesses that need or use government data. The Health Data Consortium is using the open government data to help draw crime maps and create apps like WeMakeItSafer.
The government will also play a role in regulatory matters regarding technology and the Internet. Two bills, SOPA and PIPA were already heavily contested in the president’s first term, and issues about copyright and Privacy on the Internet are, depending on how Congress addresses these issues again, possibly the defining tech issue of Obama’s second term. Regulation of the online marketplace is still in its infancy, and it is apparent that government has a lot of catching up to do on developing a strategy that balances the interests of startups and tech companies as well as established media corporations.
Another controversial government project is the government’s early stage innovation fund. The government has had its share of failures investing in individual companies, with the Solyndra scandal being the most notable. But the government has some successes as well, like the veterans start up incubator to help vets start new high growth businesses, or a company like Cabulous who credits the capital gains exclusion in president Obama’s 2011 budget for their growth. The innovation fund is also committed to investing in clean energy companies.
Green jobs are likely going to be an important part of this administration’s innovation agenda, but the administration should not be myopic in only looking to invest in green tech or the most cutting edge tech coming out of Silicon Valley. The innovation fund will focus on infusing capital into less conventional startup areas so small businesses from outside places like California will get more exposure.
The Startup America partnership, which we are big fans of, is another avenue for funding and mentorship for startups. We are actually pitching today at the Reboot America summit, where former and first White House CTO Aneesh Chopra will be speaking. He talked about the goals of Startup America last year in an article he wrote while serving as Chief Technology Officer of the United States. Access to capital and mentorship for high growth startups are key aspects of the initiative and Startup America has partnerships with the NYSE and the Case Foundations as well as other influential institutions to help foster entrepreneurship education.
It’s an exciting time for Startups and many college graduates who feel the traditional corporate path is not for them are taking their talents to startups. New programs at top universities are being created to cater to the startup culture and prepare students to start their own companies out of college.
The President’s commitment to encouraging startups and expediting the growth process for new businesses in the tech industry could be critical to his economic legacy.
In the last two years, Washington, D.C., has developed a vibrant startup community. Michael Mayernick, founder of the social startup website, Proudly Made in DC, said that tech meet-ups in the nation’s capital have grown to rival those of New York City. His website has grown to feature more than 300 startups in the area that come together to share ideas about how to re-vamp government services.
By Andrew Beilein
Four years ago I dreamt I would fall into job with a hefty, annual salary of around $60k. I could use that to repay my loans and start building my life as an adult. Isn’t that at least part of the reason why American families work so hard to put their kids through college - because there is a clear return on investment? Studies show that on average, a college degree is worth $1.2 million in lifetime income over a high school diploma.
A few days after graduating from one of the top universities in the world, I’m blogging with a sense of anxiety about the future. My expectations of a $60k job have been dashed with a summer internship, which is the stark reality for thousands of college graduates in the current economic environment. I will soon descend upon Washington DC with thousands of other disappointed college graduates, not to mention the hordes of undergraduates, to do the summer in DC internship thing. After work we’ll all find places to commiserate on how little (if at all) we are paid and what we are going to do with our lives.
Edwin Rios, a journalism and psychology student at Northwestern University, just posted his feature story of me at the TechCocktail Spring Startup Showcase. Eddie found us online when he was researching tech startups from Chicago that are working on issues related to politics. We had a great conversation at TechCocktail and met again for hot chocolate on a chilly day in Hyde Park. The article generally quite flattering even though I’m not thrilled about the hairline part.
Couple of useful bits:
Ahmad describes Votifi as a peer-to-peer recommendation engine where users find others that share their political view and engage with others on the other side of an issue. The idea arose in 2008. Votifi CEO Lou Aronson was waiting at his children’s bus stop with other parents. He heard them complaining about the automated calls they would receive during the upcoming election season. One neighbor wasn’t because he didn’t have a landline, just his cell phone.
And my favorite:
But when he winds up for his pitch to the people, the delivery is smooth. He changes up his explanation of what the company is with each person he talks to, staring into their eyes through his thick glasses. A young woman in a track jacket returns a glare. After a 10-minute conversation with Ahmad, she leans on her back heel and crosses her arms. “I’m sold,” she says.
We are at the TechCocktail Spring Showcase in Chicago tonight with a bunch of cool companies. The event was hosted partly by Cars.com. We heard speeches from the folks at TrunkClub, Power2Switch, and BrightTag.
I had a great time talking to Eddie (@onebigstory) from Northwestern University who was working on a story about Chicago Startups and politics.
There was also some serious negativity expressed about this post on PandoDaily which compared the startup cultures of Chicago and Silicon Valley. Personally I’m tired of every other region in the country trying to make it the Silicon-something of somewhere. Chicago is Chicago. Silicon Valley is Silicon Valley. I’m sure if people in Silicon Valley tried to start making Fords and Chevys they would get laughed at for sipping too many lattes and riding bicycles all the time. The point is that America is big enough and economically diverse that the economies that produce a GroupOn vs Google vs. whatever else are precisely what makes the overall economy so dynamic.
The folks over at CrazyEGG posted today on a list of hard-hitting startup-website designs. They mentioned small companies like Dropbox, Evernote, Dojo, Squareup, Mint and AirBnb. Which is why its uber-cool that we also got included in their list (at the top!). Thanks CrazyEgg and thanks also to the Design Offices of Mark J Maloney for being awesome in general.
See the full list here: