Why politics matter to your startup

Fortnightly politics column

Sara Kelly is your eyes, ears and voice in Brussels and Westminster. Every fortnight she’ll bring you the latest insights on policy changes, legislation and lobbying. In her first column she outlines why politics matter to startups.

Sara Kelly, Executive Director at Coadec

When was the last time you sat and watched Prime Minister’s questions? Or a debate in Parliament? Or followed a Government proposal from inception to legislation.

I’ve spoken with hundreds of startups over the last year and I’ve worked alongside many that work in Campus. They are busy, without the time to follow every political development. They have to worry about getting more users, developing their product, gaining investment, hiring new staff, finding offices and a hundred other things that are vital to building a successful startup. They want to “move fast and break things.” They want the Government to get out the way and let them get on with building innovative new platforms.

The last thing on their minds should be whether a piece of legislation from years ago is going to stop them doing these things.

Politics shape your startup

I don’t need to tell you that politics shapes the way you do business. Politicians set the rules in which businesses are established. They create the legal, tax and spending framework that encourages (or discourages!) entrepreneurs, startups and investors. They regulate certain activities taking place on the Internet. They determine the business environment which will ultimately allow businesses to grow or will potentially cause them to struggle.

This environment includes the regulations around setting up your business, rules of compliance about how you issue shares and seek investment, rules around data protection, licensing frameworks, and more. At one point all of these passed through the process of becoming legislation. They were proposals drawn up by government (with the exception of Private Members Bills, Public Bills and 10 Minute Rule Bills), debated in Parliament, passing through the House of Commons and the House of Lords, receiving Royal Assent and becoming an Act of Parliament.

Big companies know this, and spend a fortune on hiring top lobbyists to make sure their views are represented to government in the most effective way possible, as early as possible.

Keeping an eye on the issues that matter to you

And Coadec is here to do that for tech startups. It’s why we keep an eye on the issues that matter most to tech startups. It’s why we meet with Ministers and MPs. It’s why we attend roundtable meetings and policy discussions. It’s why we draft responses to consultations. It’s our raison d’etre. We’re taking the politics out of running a tech startup and campaigning on these issues so you don’t have to. Since Coadec was formed in 2010 we’ve been representing the growing tech startup scene on the issues that matter to you.

We’ve campaigned on issues around access to finance, broadband infrastructure, copyright legislation, data regulation, and more. We want to address the legislative issues helping or hindering innovation before you even have to consider them.

Good lobbying isn’t about getting your way all the time. It’s about monitoring and understanding issues, providing a resource to policy makers on a particular issue and ensuring that an industry’s perspective is presented well so it can be heard and considered. We want to let you know when debates are coming up that might impact upon your business and we want to give you a voice in the discussions.

Coming soon

So, in the coming weeks I’m going to be exploring some of these issues through this column. I’ll be letting you know about some of the issues going on in the corridors of power that you need to know about and give you the opportunity to respond.

The current Government is looking to create an environment of innovation and growth. We’re going to be watching Prime Minister’s questions, following debates in Parliament, and ensuring that proposals from inception to legislation allow tech startups to innovate and grow.