The federal election that used up nearly $7 billion in the course of the campaign cycle is now over. The sun rose yet again, and while we may have all paused a little longer to catch the results analysis, we are back at it again to the grind.
Breathe. Get up from your desk, take a walk outside. It's going to be okay, we've got each other! #onelove
— Oasis Center (@oasisnashville) November 9, 2016
Sure, conclusions to some things, whether it be a book or a reality content, simply are just that: an ending. But election results signify more than a conclusion to one person’s term in office or an end to the candidate’s campaign. It is only a beginning of changes to come.
There are the usual compare-and-contrast articles that have analyzed the plans laid out by the two candidates on the topics that traditionally interest small businesses. And upon the election of Donald Trump as the next president of the United States, posts on what the Trump presidency will mean for Silicon Valley give more depth and understanding. Surely, the entrepreneurs themselves will look for their answers or have to face the answers as the changes to come are implemented.
From the Startup Southerner team, we have some questions for the ecosystem itself.
Will international startups continue to apply and participate in U.S.-based accelerator programs?
Accelerator programs, including those in the southeast like Project Music (in Nashville, Tenn.) and VC FinTech (in Little Rock, Ark.), have attracted startup teams from around the globe. And some of these international teams have made decisions to stay in the country and in the community. With campaign promises to “build the wall” and provide “extreme vetting” now no longer just a promise, we do wonder if the enthusiasm for these international companies to apply to accelerator programs will see a change.
If the Affordable Care Act is repealed, how will that affect people’s decision to start a new venture or freelance?
The HHS estimates that nearly 17 million people were able to gain health coverage in 2015 that would have otherwise been unable to do so before the Affordable Care Act. Because many rely on an employer to provide health coverage, some may have never faced the cold reality of being unable to get health insurance for reasons such as pre-existing conditions.
Though we do not know how many people were able to leave a employer so they could become employers themselves because of the ACA, the fact is that this regulation does mandate health insurance coverage for all. Without such assurance, will there still be an equal opportunity for all Americans to start a business, or are those whose lives cannot afford to go without health care (but is considered uninsurable outside a group system) become more discouraged to make the entrepreneurial deep dive?
The ACA rule that extended the ‘age-out’ of their parents’ health insurance to 26 may also be contributing to the opportunity for young people to go ahead and pursue independent work. Should this extension be rolled back, will there be other safety nets for this generation to allow them to at least have some health insurance as they enter the uncertainty of entrepreneurial workplace?
How will government support for research institutions and innovations that develop from them shift?
One of the newest accelerators in the southeast is Innovation Crossroads, a program for the new generation of clean energy entrepreneurs that is supported by Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Department of Energy. SBIR grants are also important for the growth of several startups in the southeast.
Some technologies and inventions can be made in a garage, but it is essential for others to have both the financial and the structural support of a major research institution. With an incoming shift in interests and priorities, we can only speculate how those will translate into legislation changes that may very well impact the funding of the institutions and the programs that are supported by them.
If there are changes to Dodd-Frank, and/or the Volcker Rule, will there be any trickle-down effect to startup funding?
While the country itself has mostly recovered financially from the great recession of the last decade, it greatly impacted millions of Americans. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, a legislation that came about as a result of the 2008 financial crisis, was signed into law in 2010. The Volcker Rule, a section that essentially prevents speculative investments with deposits, was also added into Dodd-Frank. The measure is meant to make sure such historic systemic collapse cannot occur.
Statements that Trump made on the campaign trail on financial matters is at best confusing, though he has explicitly stated that there will be either a cutback or full elimination of Dodd-Frank. These safeguards may be of negligible concern to those whose wealth and daily lives were not hit by the last recession. But without such measure, will others take steps that they will see as more safe from any future downturns? And if people become reluctant to make “risky” investments, how will this reluctance shape the future of startup funding opportunities like angel investments?
How will we maintain the momentum?
While we are optimistic, there’s no guarantee that high-profile events like White House Demo Day and South By South Lawn (SXSL) will be an ongoing annual event that showcase the diversity of both the products and the founders who made them. Even if these celebrations do stop, does this really matter to the continuation of progress and effort to build a culture of inclusivity in entrepreneurship? Where is the sense of agency and urgency rooted? From the very top—or within each of us?