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A Tradition Connecting Startups and Policymakers

Brandon Pollak

Head of Global Affairs, 1776

Entrepreneurs are the backbone of our nation’s economy; startup communities create an average of 2 million jobs every year. When policymakers, institutions and investors join forces with startups tackling big challenges, local economies can transform and flourish.

That is why 1776 is proud to be a founding partner of Startup Day Across America to raise awareness of and support for entrepreneurs. Today, the fourth annual Startup Day, Members of Congress are visiting startups in their communities across the country to learn more about the challenges they face.

Encouraging entrepreneurship is critical to creating opportunity across the country. 1776 collaborates with several dozen Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle to advance policy initiatives bolstering startups and educate policymakers on key trends in sectors such as cybersecurity, education, energy, financial services, health and transportation.

1776 is also an advocate for women and minority entrepreneurs. As First Round Capital discovered when it crunched the data from its 300 portfolio companies and roughly 600 founders in its 10 Year Project report, startups with female founders performed 63 percent better than all-male teams.

For our nation’s economy to succeed in the digital era, we need local stakeholders — policymakers, investors, institutions and entrepreneurs of all kinds — to band together. Evidencing a promising future, the Kauffman Foundation’s 2015 Index of Startup Activity showed that 32 of 50 states saw increases in startup activity, and venture capital activity rose in 18 of the nation’s top 40 Metropolitan areas.

Kauffman Index – 2015 – Startup Activity – State Map - Rank

For example, Columbus, Ohio had the biggest increase in startup activity of any city in the Index, jumping 10 spots to twelfth. It’s no coincidence Columbus recently won the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Smart Cities Challenge, which pledged to award up to $40 million to one city to help it fully integrate innovative technologies — self-driving cars, connected vehicles and smart sensors — into its transportation network.

Like Columbus, other areas in the United States that are seeing more startup activity are becoming acutely aware of how vital it is for entrepreneurs and policymakers to be working together.

Members of Congress representing big cities or those sitting on committees of jurisdiction are not the only ones interested in building strong startup communities.

Those representing rural districts are keen to learn more about energy, food and agriculture innovation and how to best support farmers using data and technology to boost crop production, streamline distribution and even make breakthrough discoveries. For example, Senator Mark Warner, a Startup Day leader, has fought just as hard to expand entrepreneurship in rural areas of the state as he has in northern Virginia.


With the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Free Enterprise, 1776 produced its Innovation That Matters report examining and ranking 25 cities’ readiness to capitalize on the digital economy. The report confirmed that modern innovation economies depend on open, collaborative networks. Innovation That Matters also examined how city leaders can apply this collaborative theory to keep their communities at the forefront of technological change and secure a prosperous future.

Startup Day Across America draws attention to the reasons why our policymakers and innovators need to build strong relationships for the future. The economy depends on developing meaningful policies to boost startups everywhere, and the whole country has a significant role in driving that forward.

Brandon Pollak

Head of Global Affairs, 1776

Brandon Pollak is part of the founding team of 1776 and serves as Head of Global Affairs. He leads market strategy and outreach to influencers, including corporate CEO’s and Chief…