Tech-savvy entrepreneurs want less government

AT the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week, new smartphones, e-readers and tablet PCs were unveiled. Although the event was over 5,000 miles away, it’s worth considering the implications for the impending general election here in Britain.

As we live more of our lives online and request on-demand information from an array of devices, we are less interested in anything slow or bureaucratic. The internet makes us want to live efficient lives. We feel more empowered because whatever we’re looking for is available in many different ways.

As your phone or your PC becomes the remote control to your life, you become inherently more in control of your life.

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) has become the global Mecca of consumer internet devices. It replaces the enterprise-focused Comdex, which was the technology industry’s annual trade show for many years. But then consumers started adopting technology before businesses. Comdex faded, and CES became very dominant.

Commentators tell us Gordon Brown has no emotional intelligence and David Cameron is too posh. The expenses scandal hovers, and people’s personal economic situations cause them to wonder whether anyone out there really understands.

All of the major internet success stories “caught fire” as start-ups rather than being programmed out of large companies. They offered a very necessary application which users pulled towards themselves; the users didn’t need to be sold the product. “Bottom Up” groundswells have power. “Top Down” went out with the last century.

The internet is enabling people to be more in control of their lives; witness the home workers on Skype, or mums starting their own businesses.

With these points in mind, the average citizen is not looking to be mollycoddled if they ever were. They expect service. They believe in efficiency. They expect that the best will naturally “take off” in a viral way.

Entrepreneur Country, a community for high-growth entrepreneurs, which I founded, ran a survey entitled “Politics Not As Usual” in the run-up to our conference at the Savoy Place on Thursday 14 January. We asked our 25,000 community (of which a couple hundred took the survey) what the next government should do. The top four recommendations were: to reduce the size of government; stop wasting money on underperforming quangos; minimise the amount of government intervention in business; and reduce funding to government agencies responsible for creating unnecessary regulation for SMEs.

So there you have it: the tech savvy internet entrepreneurs that are building the growth story for the UK’s future want to starve the government into a much smaller animal so that it can do less damage to them. Will the candidates listen?

Julie Meyer is the chief executive of Ariadne Capital, and a Dragon on the BBC’s Online Dragon’s Den.