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Should startups and politics mix? Meet the organisation that wants to lobby German law-makers to be more “founder-friendly”


Here Erik Heinelt of Bundesverband Deutscher Startups (BVDS) explains how the organisation is working as a lobbying voice in Germany and what needs to be done to make an impact on a political scene that has been traditionally reluctant to interact with the “new economy”...


What is the BVDS?

As a representative and voice of startups in Germany, the BVDS is strongly committed to shape a more founder-friendly environment in Germany. We are in constant dialogue with decision-makers in politics, we develop proposals that represent the needs of founders and aim to reduce the barriers to starting a business. Ultimately, we promote innovative entrepreneurship and the perception of founders' in society. As a network we connect founders, politicians and their friends together.

Just what is “political representation of startups” – is it more than just the “Anti-Angel-Law”?

The idea to found BVDS was sparked by my co-founders and me last summer after a series of political decisions in Germany that affected startups and their respective business model negatively. The most prominent examples being the "Anti-Angel Law", "eCommerce Button Law", and the "Anti-Google Law".

The main reason might be that the startup perspective tends to be forgotten among the “process of lawmaking” in this type of legislation. But it seems to be almost unconsciously forgotten mainly due to the fact that decision-makers in politics know little or nothing about our needs. This is a serious problem as the majority of politicians are theoretically in favor of supporting young (tech) companies.

We experienced this situation during our talks with various officials and politicians around the “Anti-Angel Law”. It turned out that its impact on startup financing, mainly in high-risk seed stage was completely undervalued, if even considered at all.

Among all parties our position was welcomed as fresh and missing to this debate. Luckily, this controversial law was not included in the tax legislation for 2013. Although law-making is a complex process, it’s probably fair to say that several officials and politicians understood its impact on startups and might have changed their mind.

work permitHowever, it would be too easy to reduce the political representation to the Anti-Angel-Law opposition. There is a broad range of topics on our agenda for 2013 ranging from tax relief, bureaucracy reduction and faster granting of work permits for non-EU citizens. We want to continue and strengthen this political dialogue to represent the interests of startups in politics to shape a more founder-friendly environment in Germany.

We're also really proud that Florian Nöll (board member) and Prof. Tobias Kollmann (Advisory board member) were selected for the “Young Digital Economy” advisory council of the German Minister for Economy and Technology.

We have a young, international startup. Why is it worth us spending money to join BVDS?

With a membership you are eligible to join regular events where we discuss and determine new campaigns. You will also receive invitations other BVDS events such as the political breakfast a regular exchange with Members of the German parliament.

German Parliament

To ensure an sustainable a development of BVDS, we're building up a dedicated team that works full-time in the interest of our members, for instance by composing position papers as well as representing us at events nationwide.

So far we count almost 100 startups as BVDS members. Alumni such as Google, Facebook, Eplus, Stepstone and You Is Now are supporting us as sustaining members. It’s simple: The more we are, the more credibility and more impact we will have. All (tech) startups are warmly welcome, not just internet & eCommerce companies.

Image credit: megaphone – flickr user bixentro, work permit – liquene, German parliament –

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