I’m excited to be in Austin for Startup Week. I’m here to meet with local startups and key players in the startup community as well as to tell Austin’s story of entrepreneurial growth. Local hubs for tech and for entrepreneurship are dotted all across the country, and each one is vital to the continued growth of the American economy as a whole. Engine is partnering with local organizations committed to growing the startup community here in Austin, including the Austin Technology Council and the Austin Chamber of Commerce.
On Wednesday, I spoke to a group of about 50 local entrepreneurs on a panel titled “Policy vs. Pitch” outlining some of the issues on the horizon in which the startup community can have a voice. There was consensus that while entrepreneurs tend to and ought to prioritize building their product above participating in policymaking. Their participation through platforms like Engine will be crucial in moving debates and helping the startup community grow. Issues like immigration reform, STEM education, and patent were highlighted as leading concerns to which the startup community should lend its voice.
And yesterday, I spoke with representatives from three congressional offices on startup policy, along with local entrepreneurs Mitch Jacobson from Austin Technology Incubator and Eric Overton, chief executive of Focus Embedded. We discussed ideas for better high-skill immigration, small business growth and other issues as part of the Austin Chamber’s involvement with Startup Week. I’m particularly happy to have had the opportunity to discuss Startup Act 2.0, a great idea we’ve touched on here many times before, and learn more about its prospects in the new Congress. All of the participants were confident about the prospects for entrepreneurship legislation in the new Congress and left the meeting eager to continue working to make these changes a reality.
I’m glad to be having these conversations in an environment as vibrant and engaged as Austin’s tech scene. Like many other entrepreneurial communities, Austin is showing how cities can grow based on investing in the startup community. I’m hopeful we can take the successes and the experience that Austin has had and translate it to help other communities grow throughout the country.