What Trump Means For Startups

Written By : Stephen Schlett

 

We can’t really be sure how everything will shake out as a new leader takes charge but here let’s focus on one important question — what Trump means for startups in America?

 

Immigration Drives the American Startup Culture

One big area of concern that has been brought up frequently is immigration and we know that Mr. Trump’s stance on immigration at one point involved literally building a wall to keep people out of the country. Immigration has a tremendous impact on the American startup culture, because much of the culture, like much of America itself, is made up of immigrants. The competitive, survival-of-the-fittest mentality in our startup culture has led to American startups increasingly bringing in top talent from outside the US through immigration. And it is not only employees, but the founders of many highly successful American startups are immigrants to the US.

There is worry that our president-elect’s negative stance on immigration and in general his negative rhetoric towards immigrants will deter future potential immigrants from coming to the US to start their business or apply their skills. The same result would be reached if immigration policy became more restrictive, which is a possibility. Either way, a decrease in immigration is likely to have a negative impact on startups in the US.

The American startup culture relies on immigration to bring in top talent and top companies from around the world. This diversity of ideas and talents that can only be achieved through immigration creates a healthy competition that allows the culture to thrive. A decrease in immigration will hurt the American startup culture because it will be taking away a valuable piece of the culture resulting in much weaker competition within it.

 

A Shift in Attitudes Toward Energy  

The attitudes of outgoing President Obama and incoming President Trump vary greatly on a lot of different topics and especially with respect to energy so we are likely to see some changes there. Under Obama, there was a somewhat more progressive view towards finding a sustainable, renewable energy source and startup companies were on the front lines trying to tackle the problem. On the other side of the fence are big conglomerate oil companies trying to sustain profits.

President Trump favors the side of the larger oil companies. It is already very hard as it is for startups to compete in the energy sector because of the large disparity in size and power with big companies like Exxon and BP. A shift in attitudes in the White House could widen this gap and make it even harder for startup companies to compete in this area.

 

The Forefront of Fintech

Another thing to keep an eye on is that Mr. Trump’s administration will take the reigns at a critical time for the future of FinTech. FinTech stands for Financial Technology and is basically a movement to replace the traditional old school banking approach with one that works better for an increasingly digital world. This movement has tremendous implications for startups in all industries but especially in the tech world.  

The Trump administration will be in a position to shape the future of FinTech regulations because the movement is new so there is not much current regulation. Thus, the new administration will be able to lay the groundwork that will likely determine the success or failure of the movement. It is unclear exactly which way Mr. Trump will come out on this issue but it is important to note that his administration is currently being heavily lobbied on behalf of the movement and it seems that he is at least willing to listen.

 

The Future of American Startups

So it is not difficult to see a pessimistic outlook about what Trump means for startups and it is true that these concerns make their way into our culture.

But with that being said, I think the future of the American startup culture is still in our hands. I think the most important thing to remember is that we will have a chance to respond by adapting to any changes and overcoming any obstacles that may come with this new administration. We cannot let current pessimism discourage future innovation and success — that is what the American startup culture is all about.

 

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  • This seems like a very biased view. First, the oil and gas industry is not dominated by the big conglomerates. For example, the shale play, which literally has put international oil markets on its head was founded by an Independent and creative thinker. Much of the service sector in the industry also are small innovative companies that include software.

    Second, most small businesses aren’t just technology companies. For example the food/beverage/entertainment business is full of entrepreneurs who constantly start new businesses and employee more people than any other sector. And regulations are making it harder to raise capital and to employee people.

    For many who own small businesses and want to pass them on to family members, including farms often can’t do to the death tax. They end up literally selling the farm to pay the estate taxes.

    I’m optimistic that generally speaking the business climate is going to improve, including negotiating trade deals that level the playing field. As a person who has done joint ventures in China, I can tell you that the playing field
    is far from level and hopefully that can get better.

    So yes, some of your points are good ones, but you seem to have a narrow view of small businesses and innovation. It doesn’t all happen in Silicon Valley.