Thirty minutes after announcing his bid for U.S. Congress on the morning of Thursday, Sept. 24, Delaware State Rep. Bryon Short (D-Highland Woods) was at 1313 Innovation in Wilmington, looking for ways to invigorate Delaware’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.
A small group of entrepreneurs gathered in the coworking space’s presentation room, ready to discuss the challenges facing Delaware innovators with the brand-new Congressional candidate, who has committed to supporting startups as a major focus of his work.
The biggest challenge, say local entrepreneurs, is that the opportunities for funding startups in Delaware are limited, and angel investors (individuals looking to invest their own money on on the Next Big Thing) are few and far between in the mid-Atlantic region.
Instead of being drawn to Delaware, startup entrepreneurs flock to places like Austin, Texas, where angel investing has become part of the business culture. Promising touchscreen startup Cnverg recently did just that.
“Delaware is known for its big corporations,” said Short, “for its financial banking community that is used to dealing with established companies.”
That old-school way of doing business needs to change, he says, if the state is to move to the forefront of innovation.
The question is, how do we make that transition?
The short answer, it seems, is to change the perception that Delaware is has less to offer than other regions.
“Delaware should be best known for being the most accessible, agile, and innovative places,” Short said at 1313 Innovation. “That should be our hallmark. We need to be able to tell both entrepreneurs and investors, come to Delaware, stay in Delaware, here’s why.”
Even with the internet connecting people from all over the world, localized angel investors are still vital to the entrepreneurial health of Delaware. As a rule, most invest in startups located within a 60-mile radius.
“That’s why it’s so important to encourage angel investing ethics in our region,” Short said.
For his part, Short’s commitment to innovative startups in Delaware means that he not only plans to devote a part of his campaign on discussing innovation, he also plans to utilize Delaware’s startups for his Congressional run, adapting them to fit the nonprofit nature of the campaign.
Short is running for Delaware’s single seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, currently held by Rep. John Carney, who is now running for governor. Short will be running against State Sen. Bryan Townsend (D-Newark) in the Democratic primaries.
Knowledge is power!
Subscribe for free today and stay up to date with news and tips you need to grow your career and connect with our vibrant tech community.