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Regulatory Hacking Helps Entrepreneurs Make the World a Better Place

August 07, 2015

Entrepreneurs today are driving innovation for many basic services that we deserve as citizens.

Entrepreneurs today are driving innovation for many basic services that we deserve as citizens: education, energy, health and more. These industries operate in much of the same way that they have for decades because of the governmental or institutional barriers to entry. We work every day to remove these barriers to entry and provide entrepreneurs bold enough to start their businesses in these industries with access to the best investors, channel partners, and customers. We also work to make sure that they not only understand the regulations in their industry, but either take advantage of or change them.

We call this approach Regulatory Hacking, premised on the idea that companies innovating in areas intertwined with government need a different set of tools to scale. Those tactics include creative sales channels, public affairs campaigns, leveraging community influencers, relationship building with public and private sector leaders, and more.

Let me give some examples of what we mean by regulatory hacking in the healthcare space:

First, let’s explore Babyscripts, a company that has created a self-titled app for pregnant women. The app tracks a pregnant woman’s weight and blood pressure throughout their pregnancy and alerts them to when they may be at risk. The app also provides useful information to users throughout their pregnancy so that they know what to expect at each doctor appointment and at various milestones. To validate the product and its usefulness to pregnant women and their doctors, Babyscripts built a relationship with MedStar Health, a major Washington, DC-area hospital network, which agreed to become a channel for a pilot program and ultimately a sales channel. Babyscripts now has the ability to test its app at 10 hospitals in the Washington region. Through this pilot and others, Babyscripts will be able to gather proof-of-concept data that will allow it to roll out the product nationally.

Another example of a company that is leveraging regulatory hacking in the healthcare space is Luminate Health. Luminate’s HIPAA-compliant web-based solution provides patients with digital access to their lab reports. In addition to taking advantage of the trend that patients want more and more access to their data, Luminate is also taking advantage of a recent regulation that requires labs to provide patients with digital access to lab reports. They are providing a solution to labs all over the country that now need to comply with this regulation.

These products seem like no-brainers for patients and doctors alike, but it has taken creativity, boldness, and persistence for these startups to gain mindshare with their target audiences. These same approaches apply to other industries like education, energy, transportation, and more, that provide essential products and services for our citizens. At 1776, we are working to elevate these entrepreneurs, aggregate the learnings of these types of companies, and curate relationships with major institutions to move the best entrepreneurs to the front of the line. By doing this, we help ensure they have the best possible chance of success to advance and improve society.

Brittany Heyd is the Managing Director of 1776. 1776 is a Washington, D.C.-based global incubator and seed fund that helps startups that are tackling important challenges in areas like education, health, energy & sustainability, and transportation & smart cities.

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