How should startups engage with policymakers, build their own government relations (GR) function (whether in house or with consultants), and just begin to figure out their GR playbook? Let alone explain their moves — not just externally, but internally too? “We really viewed our first mission as education. Explaining what we were and, possibly more importantly, explaining what we weren’t,” shares Joseph Okpaku, vice president of government relations at Lyft. Think of it as a campaign, observes David Mack, senior director for public affairs at Lyft, and remember, “You can either let your impact on the community be defined, or you can work to define it yourself.”
Even though it isn’t a zero-sum game (and don’t make it one!), you only get once chance to really get it right… not just in terms of making a first impression, but in terms of setting regulatory precedent (as well as in drawing a line). So from where and who to begin with to how they did it, the guests on this episode of the a16z Podcast share some quick lessons learned for startups engaging with local governments, in conversation with policy and regulatory affairs team partner Matt Spence.