Today’s startup ecosystem is no longer bound by geography. Once confined to hubs like Silicon Valley and Seattle, communities from Buffalo to Kansas City are becoming centers of innovation. The digital economy made growing and scaling from anywhere the norm for startups. But this is only the beginning. We should continue to encourage the spread of entrepreneurship across the United States.
For this to be successful, not only should startups think global from Day One, they should also think about policy from Day One. Typically, regulatory and policy implications that affect the industry they are disrupting aren’t taken into consideration in the early stages of a company’s development. However, as a startup begins to grow they need to be aware of policy hurdles that may impact their business and customers. Startups cannot shy away from engaging with stakeholders in government just because there isn’t yet a pressing problem to their bottom line. They must become a valuable resource in policy conversations for government officials.
For policymakers, all they need to do is look in their own backyard to see the success of the startup ecosystem and its impact on the U.S. economy. In 2016, 1.78 million startups were founded globally. In the United States, young companies account for 20 percent of new jobs. When policy is formed around issues related to technology without startups at the table, a key ingredient is being forgotten from the recipe. Both policymakers and startup representatives should be communicating from the get-go, not once a new policy is introduced that could have a harmful impact on the ability of a startup to flourish. Cultivating a consensus on the policies that impact startups and their ability to contribute to the entire digital economy is neither naive nor novel. It is necessary and common sense.
Startups created an average of almost 3 million jobs annually between 1990 and 2009.
Policymakers can better foster entrepreneurship and growth by lowering the barriers to entry and innovation, so that the startup community can continue creating more jobs and strengthening the economy.
Now more than ever, policymakers around the world are focusing on how to make a new set of rules for our digital economy. Startups deserve a seat at the table in these conversations. Creating a regulatory environment that encourages entrepreneurship and innovation allows startups to grow — and succeed — on a global scale.
Allied for Startups is an international organization that consists of more than 30 startup advocacy groups in 25 countries across four continents. Our goal is to create a global harmony of startup policies that promote innovation and break down barriers to entry. We don’t aim to be a middleman organization shuffling back and forth between parties. We are a facilitator with the simple objective of bringing people together to have constructive conversations with an eye towards the future.
Startups and policymakers need to work together on a global scale to support a thriving digital economy. Implementing safeguards at the expense of the global, digital marketplace is not the answer. Technology and internet-based startups advance the digital economy with their ability to operate outside of their geographical boundaries. Regardless of where a company is located, its services and products are used all over the world. Regulations and policies should reflect this reality.
Melissa Blaustein is the founder of Allied for Startups, a global network of startup policy associations whose goal is to make the voice of startups heard in government.
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