Startups Head to the Hill to Fight for Net Neutrality Protections

Startups from around the country came to D.C. last week to tell lawmakers about the need for an open Internet.

As the Federal Communications Commission considers Chairman Ajit Pai’s plan to roll back existing net neutrality protections, policymakers in D.C. need to hear from the constituents and companies who rely on those protections—especially startups. That’s why we brought a group of startups to D.C. last week to make their case directly to lawmakers, following up on a letter we organized earlier this year in support of strong net neutrality rules, which has been signed by over 1,200 startups.

During our fly-in, startups met with 17 offices—congressional staffers as well as members—to make that case that the strong, up front, bright-line rules in the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order are what give startups a level playing field to compete with larger incumbents. Anything less than those kinds of protections, including Pai’s plan currently in front of the FCC, would open the door to Internet Service Providers (ISPs) charging large websites for priority access to customers.

Members and staffers heard from startups from Arizona, Louisiana, North Dakota, Mississippi and more about how they’ve relied on net neutrality protections to get off the ground and grow.

Phoenix, Arizona-based Jared Heyman—CEO of CrowdMed, a crowdsourcing platform for medical information—explained how difficult it is to compete in the healthcare space to begin with, let alone if a bigger company can pay for better access to Internet users. Brandon Medenwald, founder of Fargo, North Dakota-based software company Simply Made Apps, talked about how the Internet’s level playing field helped spark a startup community in downtown Fargo. Startup Maryland founder Mike Binko described how investors are less likely to invest in startups that compete with services offered by ISPs if those ISPs can throttle or block customers’ traffic.

Our message was clear: startups need clear, strong net neutrality protections to launch, get funding, and thrive.

We know how hard it can be for anyone running a startup to take time away from their business to talk about tech policy in D.C., but policymakers need to hear from the people they represent about the impact of their policies. We are incredibly grateful for the strong, nation-wide network of startups that are willing to come to D.C. and fight for the policies that benefit this country’s startup ecosystem.