The Internet 2012 Bus Tour stopped off the campaign trail in Kansas City on Sunday, to participate in a panel hosted by the Kauffman Foundation on the future of entrepreneurship.
The internet bus tour, making its way from Denver, CO to Danville, KY, started its route after the first presidential debate last week. The aim? To show that a free and open internet isn’t a partisan issue or one restricted to small areas of the country. The bus, which will carry a group of reporters and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian among others, will travel through the heartland to meet with people and collect stories of how they use the internet.
The event on Sunday was an opportunity for the Internet Bus riders to hear from the Kansas City startup community about how the internet has enabled their businesses to thrive. Kauffman’s Cameron Cushman told Engine; “The future of entrepreneurship is going to involve technology in some fashion. We need to make sure the internet remains a medium that entrepreneurs can use.”
Panelists included local entrepreneurs from AgLocal, Leap2, and Neighbor.ly. Jase Wilson from Neighbor.ly, a civic engagement platform that allows people and companies to invest in civic projects they want to see carried out in their cities and neighborhoods, spoke to Engine about the importance of campaigning for an open internet: “Open internet enables us. Neighbor.ly along with countless other e-commerce systems would be a non-starter if the internet were beholden to interest groups. We're able to try out ideas and provide a valuable service for next to nothing thanks to the open internet. The cost of participating as a platform in a non-open internet would skyrocket, removing lean startups like ours from the ecosystem.”
And that ecosystem is vital not just to the health of the entrepreneurial community in Kansas or any other individual community in the United States. Entrepreneurship is driving job growth across the country, and a thriving and open internet is vital to the continued recovery and growth of the economy. We’ll be tracking the bus as it rolls across the country campaigning for the internet, hitting the innovation hot spots in the heartland and further amplifying the voices of entrepreneurs and internet users from coast to coast.