Saturday, April 12, 2014

Chicago Business Leaders Brief White House Officials and Congressman Polis on Technology Entrepreneurship


Friday, April 11, 2014

CONTACT: Kira Ayish

Chicago Business Leaders Brief White House Officials and Congressman Polis on Technology Entrepreneurship
Participants outline challenges facing entrepreneurs, get legislative update and overview of Administration initiatives

Washington, D.C. – Business leaders from Chicago joined others from around the country in Washington yesterday to brief Senior Administration officials and Congressman Jared Polis (CO-2) on technology entrepreneurship and ways innovation can strengthen the economy and create jobs.

At a roundtable on Capitol Hill, business leaders met with Congressman Polis, a successful entrepreneur who created American Information Systems and, among other businesses, before entering Congress. During the discussion, business leaders shared their insight on the current climate for entrepreneurs and discussed how changes to federal policy could help them grow their companies.

During the White House briefing, Administration officials gave a broad economic overview focusing on the economic recovery and job creation. They also held discussions on using innovation to drive future job growth and how the availability of open data can help kick-start new technologies. The briefing included a panel discussion, led by industry leaders, on opportunities to promote entrepreneurship and reduce barriers to growth.

Photos of the events can be found at the following link:

“I always enjoy the opportunity to meet with innovative business men and women who take personal and financial risks to bring new ideas and products into the marketplace,” said Congressman Jared Polis. “As an entrepreneur I understand the risks involved with startups, but also the great benefits and rewards that they can offer. I have, and will continue to fight for laws that support a thriving startup environment and ecosystem.”

“These entrepreneurs bring insights from some of America’s fastest growing new businesses,” said Jim Doyle, president of Business Forward. “While they don’t agree with each other or the Administration on every point, they agreed on a number of ways the government can increase access to capital and speed the transition from basic research to product development.”

Senior White House officials who participated in the briefing included:
Steven VanRoekel, U.S. Chief Information Officer & Administrator, Office of Electronic Government, the White House
Dr. Mark Doms, Undersecretary of Economic Affairs, U.S. Department of Commerce
Javier Saade, Associate Administrator, Office of Investment & Innovation, Small Business Administration
Doug Rand, Assistant Director for Entrepreneurship, the White House
Andrew Byrnes, Chief of Staff, U.S. Patent & Trademark Office
Ryan Panchadsaram, Senior Advisor to the U.S. Chief Technology Officer, the White House
Erie Meyer, Senior Advisor to the U.S. Chief Technology Officer, Office of Science & Technology Policy
Sam Brown, Director, White House Business Council

Business leaders had the following to say about the briefing:

Mark Achler, Managing Director of Math Venture Partners, said, “I was honored to participate in the briefing by the President’s senior economic advisors and Congressman Polis. I was able to share with them my views on how to improve government support and regulation to help the entrepreneurial community. We also had a frank conversation about the lack of skilled technical workers for high tech jobs.  This conversation led to a discussion about immigration reform, and more importantly a stronger partnership with our schools to train our own youth for these highly needed positions."

Corbett Kull, CEO of 640 Labs, said, “It was an honor to be a member of the delegation representing Chicago’s 1871 Startup Incubator and the vibrant Midwestern entrepreneur community. 640 labs is building a new and innovative data analysis platform for agriculture. We are interested in how regulation and legislation surrounding data privacy may affect our customers, America’s farmers."

Feyi Olopade, CEO of CancerIQ, said, “Companies like CancerIQ are vital to the mission of affordable care in this country. Our mission is directly aligned with the Administration’s goals in healthcare and technology, but initiatives designed to help us succeed are overly time consuming and complex for us to take advantage of them. Instead we’ve turned to crowd-funding platforms such as AngelList, to build a viral following, gain access to hundreds of investors outside of our networks, and raise money in a more timely fashion. I proposed important reforms to the Small Business Innovation Research funding program that would help early-stage companies, like CancerIQ, get access to badly needed funds faster and more efficiently.

Lotika Pai, Founder & CEO of
Q-it Tech, said “As one of the panelists said so well ‘Policy is the Why & Politics is the How.’ This was a great opportunity for us to provide a tech entrepreneur’s perspective on Net Neutrality to policy makers and stress on why it is so important for our innovation ecosystem. Another hot topic on everyone’s mind was immigration reform. It’s a key issue faced by most tech companies looking to hire the best talent. To impact the legislative process it is critical that we engage with and continue to push Washington for policies that encourage entrepreneurship.”

Sidney Slover, President of
Learn It Live, said, “The White House advisors, along with Congressman Polis were enthusiastic about getting feedback from the group. I encouraged officials to consider more flexible policies surrounding small business financing. They mentioned a few promising programs they’re launching via the Small Business Administration to address these concerns. The biggest takeaway for me was to “speak up!” Entrepreneurs can only be represented if policymakers hear directly from them. We all know big business is making themselves heard - so it's up to us to advocate for our interests.”

Canh Tran, CEO of Rippleshot, said, "I came to the White House for the opportunity to discuss open data, innovation, and cyber security.  It was great to see how Congressman Polis, Business Forward, and the White House is working to help entrepreneurs create more jobs.  And being able to advocate a cyber security law to notify consumers of data breaches to those who can make a difference was empowering."

Howard Tullman, CEO of 1871, said, “Yesterday was an exciting opportunity to join with our startups and talk with so many senior members of the Administration and Congressman Polis about the challenges facing entrepreneurs today.” There were many important topics covered throughout the day, but inherent in the discussions was an agreement that innovation is driving the future of the economy and the Administration needs to continue to support entrepreneurship and reduce barriers for growth. We look forward to working closely the White House Business Council to continue connecting our member companies to important federal opportunities and resources."

Dave Turner, CEO of
Waitbot, said,Affordable health care, student loans, and start-up capital are the biggest barriers to would be entrepreneurs from my generation. The unbundling of affordable healthcare from corporate jobs along with new rules simplifying the income based repayment program has the potential unleash a new group of job creating entrepreneurs. Making federal contracts and research grants more accessible to entrepreneurs could further this progress. Currently, the high administrative burden and long sales cycles limit those who can participate in these game-changing opportunities.”


About Business Forward
With the help of more than 50 of the world's most respected companies, Business Forward is making it easier for tens of thousands of business leaders from across America to advise Washington on how to create jobs and accelerate our economic recovery. Together, we have organized hundreds of local briefings with more than 450 senior Administration officials, Members of Congress, mayors and governors.

To date, we have also brought more than 3,000 business leaders to the White House to brief the President's economic advisors. Business leaders who have participated in our briefings have seen their suggestions implemented in the Affordable Care Act, the Jobs Act, three trade agreements and every one of the President's budgets. Many have also shared their recommendations with their representatives in Congress and through op-eds and interviews with local media. Ninety-eight out of 100 business leaders who have participated in a Business Forward briefing would be interested in participating in another one.

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