Calling All Entrepreneurs - Startup America Launches VA Partnership
Pretty soon, the Silicon Valley will have nothing on us. DC/MD/VA are going above and beyond to create an entrepreneurial community all our own, initiating programs like Foster.ly, DC Tech Meet-up, and most recently, Startup America.
Last Tuesday, January 31st, Startup Virginia kicked-off their new membership into the Startup America clan by hosting an (awesome) early-morning, entrepreneurial get together at Founders Hall Auditorium at Geroge Mason University’s Arlington Campus. The celebration began with a quick note from Jonathan Aberman, Startup Virginia co-chair, president of FounderCorps and managing partner of Amplifier Venture Partners. This was followed by a few words from GMU President Dr. Alan Mertens, professing his dedication and support to the area’s startup and tech communities,. “Here at George Mason we have a responsibility to foster the entrepreneurial community…Be innovative and entrepreneurial,” said Mertens. “Take advantage of your location. Build on your strengths.”
Held in conjunction with Startup America’s first birthday party, Startup Virginia featured a 1-year anniversary video followed by an Aberman-led panel discussion with Startup DC, MD and VA co-chairs Evan Burfield, Mark Walsh and Dendy Young and Donna Harris, Startup America’s managing director of startup regions. The group provided positive insight into the future of entrepreneurialism in the region but also gave straight-forward advice on what we’ll need to do to reach our potential, specifically citing the need to “embrace failure the way the Silicon Valley has.”
Next up was the life of the party and White House CTO Aneesh Chopra, addressing the importance of entrepreneurship and Startup Virginia. He spoke of the need for government to remove barriers for entrepreneurs and announced President Obama’s unveiling of legislation to support entrepreneurship with bipartisan support later that same day. He also hit on the importance of students and others taking action to pitch policy changes that will help the community grow.
The moment everyone was waiting for, however, came when headliner Steve Case, chairman of Startup America (he may have also held some other important roles), made his way to the podium. He started out by making the audience feel important (cough - lying to everyone in the room) by stating he skipped the Startup Hawaii launch for the VA launch. His motivational speech encouraged everyone to go back to what worked, reminding us that we didn’t become the greatest economy in the world on accident. Case also pointed out his priorities for national policy change, noting immigration reform, easing crowd-sourced funding and lowering the cost of an IPO.
All-in-all, the event was a great way to kick things off for the entrepreneurial community here in the tri-state area. And, although I wasn’t able to attend, I heard another great event took place later that night for the Startup DC launch.
On an ending note – here were some of my favorite tweets from the event. Check them all out at #startupva!
@jmbadlam: #StartupVA event tomorrow expecting 450 attendees. Wowza. Great news for the alma mater!
@wfuentes3: @SpeakerBox: thanks for the invite to @startup_va event. Great panel right now #startupVA (what, I’m allowed to like a shout out?)
@TracyTran: Frankly, #startupva started because Virginia is the most business-friendly state in the country. Suck it other 49.
@ChrisF: "Marketing its not a dirty word." -- Alan Merten, George Mason President #startupva