We met with Thuc Vu, cofounder and CEO of OhmniLabs, a startup that produces home always-on robots that help people communicate at a distance. Vu and his team have partnered with policymakers to help communities in their healthcare and workforce development efforts. As OhmniLabs continues to grow, Vu hopes policymakers look for solutions to immigration reform and incentivizing research and development.
Memphis has served as the epicenter of music for great stars from Elvis Presley to B.B. King. The city has also become an epicenter for the region’s ecosystem, led by Leslie Smith, the president and CEO of Epicenter. Leslie and her team work to identify gaps in the ecosystem and work collectively to fill those for gaps for the region’s growing population of innovators.
Beth Zimmer has worked to grow the ecosystem into the powerhouse it is today as the managing director and co-founder of Innovation Collaborative. Bringing together all members of the ecosystem, Beth and her team have gone as far to map out all of Erie’s assets. Beth would like to see more emphasis put on entrepreneurial ecosystem building from a policy level, including tax credits and additional resources.
In celebration of National Veterans Small Business Week (November 5-9), we met with Donald Coolidge, co-founder of Elemental Path (EP). Thanks to his experience in the military Donald learned leadership, critical thinking, planning and most importantly, cutting edge technology. Looking at government, Donald hopes policymakers develop more resources to help educate veterans in how to translate their skills, educate them on entrepreneurship (with real entrepreneurs).
Sonya Dunn, founder and CEO of JEMH Enterprises, and military spouse for over 20 years, will be on the panel, to discuss ways in which active military/military families/veterans can utilize tech and entrepreneurship for opportunity. Sonya is excited by recent legislation, such as the Military Spouse Employment Act of 2018, to better support military families and is hopeful lawmakers will continue to partner with military spouses to create for more entrepreneurial opportunities.
This week, we met with Alec Sorenson, Founder and CEO of Tradespace. Leaning on his view of both the D.C. ecosystem and San Francisco ecosystem, Alec offers a unique perspective of how government can work with startups. He offers a key piece of advice, as Alec believes “This work starts with us - having conversations with lawmakers and speaking up. Education on this issue is key.”
This week, we met with Sue Marshall who has helped to grow the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Minnesota, including her own company NetZro. Leaning on the traditional industry of food processing, Sue created a company to decrease food waste. Sue wishes for more policies creating low-cost and free space for research to be done by startups.
To celebrate and support latino entrepreneurs, we met with Robbie Cabral, founder and CEO of BenjiLock. Latino entrepreneurs face challenges such as inadequate access to capital; in fact, only 12% of Latino firms employing more than one person received bank loans, compared to 18% of white-owned firms, 15% of Asian-owned firms, and 14% of Black-owned firms. Despite these challenges, Robbie is thankful for the mentorship and guidance received from SBA’s SCORE programs. He hopes that policymakers can focus on creating more opportunities for entrepreneurs from every walk of life.
Fady Saad is the co-founder and director of Partnerships at MassRobotics, innovation hub and startup cluster focused on the needs of the robotics community. As leader in New England and the U.S., MassRobotics has attracted attention from policymakers, locally, nationally and even internationally - including receiving over two million dollars from the state government.
Amelia Friedman and her team at Hatch Apps empower people around the world to create their own mobile apps. By leaning on a strong tech community in Washington, D.C., Hatch Apps has quickly grown. As an international company, legislation like GDPR has changed the way they do business and deal with data.
Long Island is famous for beaches, bagels and vineyards, but it also has a budding innovation ecosystem. Just outside of New York City, Long Island, Suffolk County in particular is growing into an entrepreneurial powerhouse. Phil Rugile, Director of LaunchPad Huntington, recognized the need for a space to attract talent, host events and build community; he then founded LaunchPad.
Jay Newton-Small has a background in journalism. By utilizing her passion for storytelling, Jay created MemoryWell, a startup that seeks to improve the long-term care of those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia. She leaned on D.C.'s ecosystem with strong partners in the aging space to grow her company. However, Jay hopes the government will play a bigger role in convening innovators and traditional partners to better support the aging industry.
West Virginia’s mountainous terrain may be a challenge, but certainly doesn’t divide the state’s entrepreneurs, according to Anne Barth, Executive Director of TechConnect West Virginia. TechConnectWV is a non-profit organization focused on driving innovation, cultivating entrepreneurship, and creating greater economic diversity throughout West Virginia.
The immigration process in the United States continues to be confusing, challenging and complicated. Xiao Wang, the co-founder and CEO of Boundless, is working to solve this problem through the use of technology. As Boundless helps with the family immigration process, policy is still need to facilitate entrepreneurs to build companies in America.
Kiera Smalls, Executive Director of Philly Startup Leaders (PSL), is leading the charge as she builds a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem for innovators to thrive. The Philadelphia startup community is partnering with lawmakers to ensure it is reflective of Philadelphia’s diverse population.
Building a business plan can be challenging, but David Krauss, Co-Founder of NoiseAware, believes most startups are missing one key feature - advocacy. David has advocacy ingrained into NoiseAware’s culture. By embracing advocacy as a main focus, NoiseAware has built strong relationships with policymakers and in turn, has brought additional notoriety to his growing startup and developed new partnerships.