Start Ups Express Frustrations With Washington

BY Heather Greenfield
June 7, 2012

Start ups and Silicon Valley companies from Personal to Spokeo discussed issues from innovation and competitiveness to cybersecurity and privacy at the Tech Policy Summit in Napa Wednesday.

Nnena Ukuku, co-founder and CEO of Black Founders StartUp Ventures, said it was unfortunate that provisions that would have benefited start up companies were removed from the Jobs Act. Vivek Wadhwa of Singularity University said the single best thing Washington could do before the election would be to pass the StartUp Act.

Robert Leshner, co-founder and CEO of Safe Shepherd said managing a start up is like driving a Ferrari with low fuel through the fog. He said it’s impossible to focus on anything else – like tech policy problems in Washington.

If he could lobby effectively in Washington as a small company, he said a focus would be patent reform. “Patents are no longer tools for innovation for start ups,” Leshner said. “Patents and copyrights are only used aggressively against start ups.”

Washington tech policy experts discussed the need for start ups to do more to communicate with members of Congress so they better understand the issues start ups really face. But Wadhwa said they simply don’t have time – they’re busy innovating.

During a question and answer session a representative from a startup said he understands why his colleagues feel like Washington politicians are just wanting political donations. But they still need to engage with Washington politicians so that they understand what startups are doing and how many jobs are being created.

Another entrepreneur agreed Washington still needs to hear from them.

“We just need to get our story out to policymakers,” said Mike Sax of Asigo.

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