Politics, a game many of us refuse to follow and play. We just build great companies and get things done. That’s what I thought of Politics vs. Startups for a very long time. Frankly, I rarely followed the news or wanted to participate in that whole mess. That being said, recently I had the chance to be involved with a few projects in Brussels and realized that in reality, what we say does matter.
There are certain parts of the EU Commission and our local governments that can clearly make our lives easier. Take Neelie Kroes, Digital Agenda Commissioner at the EU, for example, a woman who is known for fighting monopolistic tendencies (read: roaming charges, broadband markets) and for promoting startup Entrepreneurship while getting every citizen in Europe up to speed on technology. She was extremely active in the community and would often reply to tweets and engage with people, not surprisingly she has 114k followers.
But it is not just in the social media where you could make your opinions count. The EU Commission also actively sought out advice from the key people in the industry, began the Startup Europe project, initiated the Startup Manifesto and created open calls for Web Entrepreneurship, among many other things.
Personally, I know a number of respected entrepreneurs who have been invited to come talk to the stakeholders unit, to help shape the new digital agenda. They even organize a big conference called the Digital Action Day, where they gather input from people on what they should do. This year, I was at the event and it was inspiring to see so many great startup entrepreneurs there. Indeed, there was also the largest collection of lobbyists that I have ever seen in my life.
One issue that was immediately clear, was that although startups are now a priority for the EU Commission, as was mentioned in an official letter from Jean-Claude Juncker (President of the EU Commission) to Günther Oettinger (Commissioner of Digital Economy and Society) – but they are still not actively heard.
We are all too busy building products, when in fact we can rather easily reach out and demand improvements throughout Europe. For instance, there is no dedicated lobbyist who lives in Brussels who would represent our ideas (If you have thoughts about how we can get one, let us know – editor (a) arcticstartup.com), nor are we particularly active in politics as a whole.
Being from the Nordic/Baltic region, we will now have a chance to influence the whole process even more than before as one of the successors of Neelie Kroes is no other than Andrus Ansip, the former prime minister of Estonia. We all know how good Estonia is when it comes to startups and digitizing everything from e-voting to e-citizenship. Starting companies, doing accounting, reporting tax returns, banking – everything is simple and digital in Estonia. So arguably, choosing someone who knows how Estonia does it firsthand is a good choice.
Today, at 11:00 CET (12:00 EEST) Ansip is going to be on Twitter for about an hour, talking to people on what he should do. So to reach out, just use the #AskAnsip hashtag and include @Ansip_EU. If you also include @arcticstartup, we will retweet your thoughts to get a wider reach. You can use this link to start.
Feel free to ask very explicit questions and provide him with suggestions on what to improve. For best effect, representing the region is also a great idea with your own hashtags: #HELYES #STHLMTECH #CPHFTW #ESTONIANMAFIA #BALTICMAFIA.
As we mentioned earlier, startups do not really have any lobbyists, while the Telecoms, ICT, Broadband and all other digital sectors – do. That means that they will be pushing hard for attention, trying to make sure that their sector is high on the commissions priority. If we do the same, perhaps they will realize the importance of startups and will strengthen our overall position in the EU Commission for the next five years.
Top Image Courtesy of Shutterstock // Politics