WASHINGTON, November 27, 2013 – DC at Large Councilman Vincent Orange hosted the second annual Small Business Summit with lunch for over 300 members of the local business community but sports and technology entrepreneur Ted Leonsis stole the show with a homespun message as keynote luncheon speaker at the Hamilton.
In a day long Summit that began with a breakfast plenary session that included the Mayor’s prosperity stump speech about DC’s skyline of cranes followed by the usual government talking heads who tried to advise the audience of small business owners how to navigate DC government.
The good news was that Chairman of the Committee on Business, Consumer and Regulatory Affairs Orange has not given up on small business reform legislation that is expected to be re-introduced in early 2014 for another round of bruising amendments and revisions as he stakes his reputation as a small business advocate and reformer on his second run for Mayor.
“It’s great to be alive today in the District where we have in excess of $1.5 million surplus in the bank”, said Councilman Orange in his remarks.
The bad news is that those small businesses learned that the Office of Contracts and Procurement has delegated most of their multi-billion dollar government purchasing power to the Department of General Services, who does not have a forecast online!
But the Department of Small and Local Business Development is swiftly staffing up with an alphabet soup of new technical and financial programs to shepherd the estimate 1,200 Certified Business Enterprises AKA CBEs that agency has certified to compete in the sheltered market with the 40,000 other businesses based in the District.
Ted Leonsis on the other hand as chairman of the AMEX Technology and Innovation committee had two big programs to promote. He touted the importance of branding support for “Small Business Saturday” as a member of American Express’ board of directors and his investment in a five year old start-up called GROUPON, which now serves 700 cities worldwide with coupon deals designed to jump start the cash flow of small businesses through innovative discount promotions.
“We are very involved with celebrating small business and we have branded the Saturday after Thanksgiving as Small Business Saturday. Our goal is to keep more consumer money in the community by promoting the alternative idea of rather than going to the mall, go check out and support a small neighborhood business”, said Leonsis.
Leonsis also announced the formation of the Revolution Growth Funds, a $450 million venture fund that focuses on $10 to $50 million ventures, and Revolution Ventures, a second $200 million fund that makes investments of $500,000 to $5 million. The fund objective is make 40 investments in local companies with the potential to grow to scale.
“There is a renaissance going on in business, because immigrants like me and minorities are the new innovators in business. There has never been a better time to start and launch a business. That’s why there is so much venture capital out there”, said Leonsis.
He wrapped up his remarks with a summary of his new life pursuit of being a student of happiness, where the success traits he learned while growing a series of successful businesses are outlined in his new book “The Business of Happiness”. According to Leonsis there is no downside to being happy.
And that starts with being involved as an active participant in multiple communities of interest and by engaging in high levels of self-expression. Although the focus of the Summit was small business, Leonsis brought the audience full circle with his personal story of starting his first business in 1976 followed by a string of successes in media, sports and venture capital.
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