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Getting It Right With The Government as a Startup

This article is written by Jeremiah Uke, a Contributor Author at Startup Istanbul.

Evan Burfield is the co-founder of 1776 and CEO of Union, where he works with startups around the world tackling important challenges in areas like education, health, energy, transportation, food, and financial services. As an angel investor and venture capitalist, Evan has invested in more than 40 startups with world-changing ideas, from Silicon Valley to Nairobi.

Entrepreneurs get scared at the thought of having to work with the government, reasons being that government is sluggish and slows things down, even the entrepreneurs who overcome the first fear end up not knowing how to get the government on their side, they struggle to get support and end up paying a bunch of fines for violating regulations. This is
basically the same for most regions in the world, wherever it is, startups struggle with making friends with the government.

Evan Burfield, Co-founder of a technology firm called 1776, also the author of a book titled “Regulatory Hacking”, shares from his experience seeing startups spring up in several cities of the world, different tactics or approaches for startups to work with government successfully. When dealing with a product or service that is meant for as much as millions of people, you are dealing with the direct concern of government because your product actually affects the way people live. In his book “Regulatory Hacking”, Evan shows cases of startups who have successfully progressed whilst working with government as ally in different regions
of the world, he calls such entrepreneurs Regulatory Hackers.

Elon Musk is absolutely the foremost Regulatory Hacker, each of the startups he’s helped drive including PayPal, SpaceX, Tesla, SolarCity, all operate in exceptionally regulated sectors. He’s incredibly good at turning government into an ally for his companies, it’s a great skill to possess as entrepreneur hoping to break into regulated markets, below are a
few approaches to getting the government to listen to you:

1. Getting citizens to speak on your behalf

This approach would function mostly in countries which practice the democratic system of government, it involves getting the users of your product or service to speak up about regulations affecting the way they use your product. Governments are most likely to listen to the needs of the citizens and effect changes where necessary, so this strategy is one to
reckon with. It can be done with a social media campaign such as a twitter hashtag against a particular regulation or in support of your service.

2. Engaging Influencers

As an entrepreneur, working with people who carry an amount of influence, authority or contact with people in power is another good strategy to getting the government to listen to you, they can foster the quick movement of the amendment of policies or regulations in your favour.

The methodologies carried by startups from books, tech communities and materials tend to leave out the government when teaching startups planning, startups often run off without considering the government and they end running into problems with regulations. Strategic regulatory hacking is key to the growth of startups in regulated markets and it is important for entrepreneurs to add this to their playbook when building startups.

─ March 26, 2019