Advice for Early-Stage Startups in Regulated Sectors

Consider engaging government as a key tenant of their growth strategy

May 17, 2022

The marketplace is awash with disrupters seeking to leave their stamp on entrenched industries and out-of-date technologies. Without careful planning, however, these entrepreneurs and their startups could be thwarted by another disruptive force – the federal government.

If the past couple of years have had a single buzzword, it would be “disruption”. Innovators and entrepreneurs have been unsettling industries left and right; changing the landscape of health care, transportation, technology and many others. 

The bigger the change or impact, the more likely a disrupter may draw the scrutiny of policymakers and regulators. The federal government – whether it be Congress or the Executive Branch – has the ability to stop a new company in its tracks.

Yet, many new companies fail to realize the importance of having a government affairs strategy – the same way they would a public relations or investor relations strategy. There are a number of reasons a young company, trying to break down established norms, should consider building a government and regulatory affairs strategy in their early days.

Here are a few: 

  • Thousands of pieces of legislation are introduced each year and often things move quickly. All it takes is one piece of legislation or one amendment to impact a company’s operation so it’s important for companies of all sizes and age to monitor these discussions and be prepared to engage early on in the process so that Members understand the impact of their policies.
  • The Executive Branch has fairly broad authority to make regulatory changes without sign-off from Congress. If a company is regulated by the federal government – or could be – it’s important to have your voice heard during this process. 
  • For many early-stage companies, the government represents a potential business partner. For example, innovators in the health care or defense space may look to public programs to deploy their product or service. The government can often be resistant to change so building relationships with procurement officers and other agency officials early can help ease the process.

The bottom line is innovators and disrupters in heavily regulated industries need to consider engaging government as a key tenant of their growth strategy.

Molly McDonnell
Winning Strategies Washington

Molly McDonnell specializes in health care, with a particular focus on patient advocacy. Molly guides clients on issues ranging from biomedical research and innovation to public health, as well as Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance. Molly translates and distills complex policies and regulations into clear, digestible information that helps clients navigate Capitol Hill and advance their policy agendas. She is expert at helping clients develop long-term, win-win relationships with decision-makers on Capitol Hill and within relevant Executive Branch agencies in support of their respective agendas.

In addition to expert policy analysis and counsel, Molly provides client with additional key services, including strategic planning and messaging, social media strategy, and writing and editing. Whether it’s writing or editing a grant, drafting a blog post or call to action, or crafting a Tweet in support of a client’s agenda, Molly’s versatility is an incredible asset to WSW’s clients.

Having served as Senior Health Policy Advisor for Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ), Molly maintains very close relationships with the professional staff of the Energy & Commerce Committee. She also works closely with the House Ways & Means Committee and House and Senate Republican Leadership, and with key federal agencies such as HHS, CMS, FDA, and HRSA.