#DCTech Under A New Mayor

On the evening of Tuesday, April 1, it was final, Mayor Vincent Gray had been defeated by Muriel Bowser as the Democratic nominee for the Mayor of DC. DC has never had a Republican mayor. In fact, since DC’s first Mayor, Walter Washington, there have been a total of 7 mayors and all of them have been Democrats. Making Muriel Bowser the likely next Mayor of DC.

Many DC Tech residents are wondering if Bowser will be as “supportive” of startups as Mayor Gray.

Others, like this Cranky old man, think that if you call thoughtlessly and indiscriminately throwing crumbs to the Tech Sector in order to build a PR reputation as a Technology Savvy Job Creator, then Gray was a Tech Supporter. The problem with the Mayor’s program has been he’s thrown too little money, seemingly misplaced and handed to the leader of 1776, whose only qualification was a willingness to hire the Mayor’s Business Director before the Mayor got voted out of office.

Hey, startups!!!! Let me help you understand something.

  •  If you need a government to help you build your company…. you deserve to fail.
  • If you can’t figure out how to get stuff done, how to get people to help you if you can’t raise money… perhaps you deserve to fail.
  • And if you need a government funded, passionately reinvented, failed “startup entrepreneur” to hold your hand and he can actually help you…. you deserve to fail.

I remember when I took over a company and during introductory 1 on 1 sessions with the team, I asked one of the sales guys what he expected from me. His reply:

I want the same thing from you that I expect from my government; the 3 D’s.

  • Deliver my mail
  • Defend my shores and
  • leave me DaF*CK alone

Let me unpack that statement:

  1. No, he wasn’t from New Jersey, he was actually from Texas
  2. He was a useless salesperson and was made available to industry 60 days later
  3. That is what we should expect from our Government.

The DC Government tech initiatives like funding The Fort or 1776 or a silly $1M Venture Fund are shiny object distractions. To an ADHD, Type A, Startup Founder, it’s like the squirrel to the dog. It takes our eye off the prize. It’s noise.

Governments can help Startups by getting out of the way. Creating tax incentives that attract and foster capital formation and investment. Creating systems that eliminate regulatory friction to make it easier to start and grow a business. Deliver our mail, protect our shores and leave us DaF#ck alone.

Stop waiting for the government to do your job and make something happen.