As the founder of a start-up, there is nothing more thrilling than launching your product. In 2009, we released the TeamSnap web application to help sports coaches, teams, and parents communicate and stay organized. Today, we employ scores of people and help millions more. As an American company that provides online services, our success simply would not have been possible without a free and open Internet.

That’s why our team of engineers, directors, and designers celebrate the Open Internet Order. Adopted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Order bans Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from blocking or slowing down sites at their discretion. Most importantly for us, ISPs are not allowed to charge companies like mine for faster or better access to their users. The Order codifies the principles that have governed the Internet since its inception. It allows us to continue to do business, grow, and innovate.


The Order is widely praised by business leaders, economists, and civil rights groups.

But this week, House Republicans backed an appropriations bill that threatens to undo the Order through the backdoor.

As founder and CEO of an American company, I have a message for Congress: Don’t weaken the FCC’s rules. Startups like mine need strong net neutrality rules, and so do consumers. Any bill or effort to water down the Open Internet Order will harm businesses like mine, or prevent future start-ups from getting off the ground. If Congress wants to support economic growth and start-up innovation in America, it should let the Open Internet Order stand.

Here’s why companies like TeamSnap praise the FCC’s decision. Online innovation in the U.S. has flourished, because the Internet has been an equal playing field. But in the last few years, large ISPs like Comcast and Verizon have wanted to create online “fast lanes,” i.e. charge companies like mine access fees for a faster connection to their users.

If ISPs were allowed to charge companies for priority service, my company would not exist today. Like most social entrepreneurs, we didn’t have a lot of capital when we started TeamSnap. But we were able to launch our product online, because we didn’t need to pay extra fees to compete. If we had to pay fees just to reach customers efficiently, we could never have persuaded investors that we were viable, and TeamSnap would never have gotten off the ground. This is true for many online innovations, from Google to Etsy to Facebook. In a world with online fast lanes, future start-ups may not ever see the light of day.

The creation of fast lanes would also threaten our company’s survival today. TeamSnap would be forced to pay more just to compete with established companies that can pay to be in the fast lane. In turn, we would have to increase subscription fees, and our customers would need to pay higher prices. ISPs would profit, but the rest of us would bear the costs.

Finally, without the Open Internet Order, ISPs would have the power to deny small start-ups like ours the chance to be in the fast lane at all. Imagine an ISP with an advertising relationship with a sports apparel manufacturer that produces an app that competes with ours. The ISP could give our competitor the chance to be in the fast lane, but refuse to extend that opportunity to us. This kind of unfair competition would make it almost impossible for us to secure capital or grow our business. It would allow ISPs, and not the public, to choose winners and losers online.

In sum, the Open Internet Order is necessary to protect the future of business and innovation in the U.S.

To be sure, large ISPs like Comcast and Verizon don’t see it that way. They argue that charging websites for priority service benefits users, because additional profits allows ISPs to increase investment in more and better network infrastructure. But for decades, ISPs have continued to invest in infrastructure in the absence of online fast lanes. Moreover, we have no guarantee that ISPs will use higher profits to improve their networks instead of say, increasing dividends to shareholders.

In fact, keeping the Internet open automatically creates incentives for ISPs to deploy more network infrastructure, because it fosters greater innovation and increases demand for Internet services. For example, the emergence of streaming video resulted in an explosion of new services and customer demand, which then led ISPs to create more network infrastructure to support it. The Open Internet Order protects this relationship between innovation and infrastructure development.

As a social entrepreneur, I believe that a key responsibility of government is ensuring fair and open markets. The FCC’s Open Internet Order is entirely in line with this responsibility. The FCC got it right, and now Congress shouldn’t mess with a good thing.

TeamSnap believes in the power of community, athletics and teamwork, and we want every one of our customers to spend less time organizing and more time doing. As a CEO, I want the same for my startup. Let’s ask Congress to stand by the Open Internet Order, so that we can all get back to work – on a free and open Internet.

DuPont is founder and CEO of TeamSnap, a startup that provides online service and mobile apps to help sports coaches, teams, and families communicate and organize around shared goals. Valerie Kaur, a fellow at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, contributed to this article.