What The Government Can Learn From Lean Startups

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Entrepreneur in Residence programs have grown in popularity at venture capital firms, law firms and businesses, and now even the U.S. government wants the opinion and insight from the wild west of startups.

David Portnoy served as Entrepreneur in Residence at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services until just weeks ago, and took the opportunity at the recent MIT CDO event to offer his advice on what the government can learn from lean startups about launching initiatives.

Portnoy was tasked with the Demand Driven Open Data initiative during his stay, which provided a “transparent mechanism” to inform “public data owners what’s most valuable.”

Before his government work, Portnoy mentored startups through a number of incubator programs. He said the same mechanisms that lead to business success could lead to success in innovation-focused policy.

“I think there are three principles that apply,” he said.

Those principles include an understanding of customers’ needs, utilizing a "minimal viable" product, and measurement of results.

A minimal viable product is a popular solution in startup circles that suggests entrepreneurs avoid over-engineering solutions, particularly in early stages.  A solution first needs to be operative – whiz-bang features can be added later.

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