Lawmakers, entrepreneurs share Congressional Startup Day experiences

August 21st was the official celebration of Congressional Startup Day -- a unique opportunity for lawmakers to celebrate entrepreneurial excellence in their districts and states over the August congressional recess. 

This year, more than 50 senators, representatives, and staffers from both political parties agreed to meet with startups and entrepreneurs as part of Congressional Startup Day festivities. Although meetings and events will continue through the end of August, we wanted to highlight some of the great discussions and events that lawmakers have held with their startup communities. 

Mike Midgett, the founder and CEO of Texas-based startup QOREBOARD, said that his company had a great meeting with Rep. Pete Olson (R-Texas). “Our business is focused on AI and since Rep. Olson is the Co-Chair for that Caucus, we had an in-depth discussion around data regulation, user privacy, and future potential regulations in AI,” Midgett said. 

Rep. Pete Olson (R-Texas) and the team from QOREBOARD celebrating Congressional Startup Day.

Rep. Pete Olson (R-Texas) and the team from QOREBOARD celebrating Congressional Startup Day.

Amanda Hepper, president and co-founder of Washington State-based Medcurity, was one of the entrepreneurs who had the chance to meet with Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), one of the co-chairs of Congressional Startup Day. She said the congresswoman “was very attentive and sought to thoughtfully understand the business model for each startup represented.”

“She enjoyed hearing about the economic development ecosystem that is growing in Spokane as they support startups,” Hepper said. “Representative McMorris Rodgers was also generous in providing meaningful connections to individuals and healthcare systems that would benefit from using Medcurity, the HIPAA Tools and Resources Platform. It was a pleasure to meet with her and to receive her support, face to face.”

Pat East, executive director of Indiana-based Dimension Mill, had the opportunity to meet with Rep. Trey Hollingsworth (R-Ind.) for Congressional Startup Day. East said it was “an informative and useful meeting.”

“The congressman was more informed about the issues we discussed than I would have expected,” East said. “He seemed engaged and interested. He also agreed to assist with a specific action item related to my business.”

Sen. Krysten Sinema (D-Ariz.) met with the founders of six Tucson startups during an event hosted by StartupTucson, where she discussed some of the work she’s been doing to support startups. 

“The Senator has advocated for bipartisan legislation to spur growth in startups such as introducing the Fostering Innovation Act, which cuts red tape for science and technology companies, and the HALO Act, making it easier for startups to access funding,” said Liz Pocock, the CEO of Startup Tucson. 

Sen. Krysten Sinema (D-Ariz.) meeting with entrepreneurs at Startup Tucson.

Sen. Krysten Sinema (D-Ariz.) meeting with entrepreneurs at Startup Tucson.

And in Iowa, entrepreneurs at co-working space MERGE Iowa City had the opportunity to meet with both Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa) during two days of discussions. As the Iowa City Press-Citizen reported following their meetings, entrepreneurs were particularly concerned about health care accessibility and rising business costs.

As Congressional Startup Day co-chairs Reps. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Pa.) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) wrote in their Roll Call op-ed about the importance of startups, the nationwide celebration is an opportunity to “honor and elevate small businesses and startups that are the true drivers of our economy.”

As the voice of startups in government, Engine is proud to partner with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and the Center for American Entrepreneurship to help facilitate and support Congressional Startup Day events. We look forward to even more meetings between members of Congress and their startup communities!