Startups bend ear of state lawmaker
Last Updated: 16:43 August 29, 2013
"What I found most effective is when I can meet face to face with a constituent. … That's something that I'll remember," said Foote, a Democrat who represents Louisville, Lafayette and much of Longmont.
About 20 employees of startup companies were gathered for a question-and-answer session with Foote as part of Startup Day Across America. The day was spearheaded by U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., in an effort to get state and national legislators connected with the startup communities in their areas.
While startups are often low on personnel and can't always send someone to Denver to weigh in on state government, Foote said, that it's important for them to find ways to get in front of legislators in person if they're to push the issues that are key to the startup community.
"That's easy to say, but it's hard to do," Foote said.
The day was a two-way educational experience of sorts.
Those in attendance tried to convey to Foote the challenges that startups face that maybe aren't shared by other businesses, things such as the way taxation affects companies that are growing rapidly yet maybe aren't turning a profit for four or five years.
Nationally, startups are pushing for issues such as the Startup Visa Act, which would help entrepreneurs from foreign countries who start up companies in the United States remain here and keep those businesses and jobs in America.
"This business in particular went from five employees to over 20 in six months," Pivot Desk chief executive David Mandell told Foote. "It could go back to seven tomorrow or it could go to 500 a year from now. It's a very different way of existing than people are used to when they perceive business."
Foote said he believes Colorado's state government is pro business in general, but conceded that the familiarity with startups at the Statehouse isn't what it could be.
"I don't really think that there's too much of a recognition of startups versus other types of models," Foote told the crowd.
That was a point that Foote said he would take with him into the next legislative session.
"So even if it's only 20 people, it's critical," Mandell said after the session with Foote of the importance of meetings like Thursday's. "The more our government representatives here this the more they're going to be able to understand it."
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