Hacking for entrepreneurs: a transatlantic go at designing policy – Richard Boly

In September last year, startup ecosystem representatives got together at the MTB Innovation Center in San Francisco to “hack” policies in an effort to design solutions to global policy challenges facing entrepreneurs. Ahead of this year’s Startup Europe Comes to Silicon Valley (SEC2SV) mission, Richard Boly*, innovator and former career US diplomat, shares some thoughts on the Policy Hack.


Describe your experience with the Policy Hack in 140 characters.
Cultures, continents and worldviews collide! Impactful ideas result.

Were you surprised with the outcome?
No, nothing like a pitching competition to focus teams and surface good ideas. 

Do you think policymakers talk enough to entrepreneurs, investors & members of the startup ecosystem?
Unfortunately, policymakers too often talk at, rather than listen and hear from, members of the startup ecosystem.  On the flipside, entrepreneurs’ disruptive approach (e.g. move fast and break things) can be unnerving to regulators, who are trying to balance the interests of multiple stakeholders through a slow and methodical process.

How about regulators – should regulators talk to startups? Any specific sectors?
Regulators should consider establishing entrepreneurs-in-residence positions, so that they can have innovators and disruptors at the table to ensure regulations don’t unintentionally favor incumbents. 

What should that dialogue ideally look like?
Ideally, the dialogue shouldn’t be bolted on to the regulatory process, but rather be integrated into it. That’s why I like the idea of an entrepreneur in residence.

If you could pick a policymaker, investor or entrepreneur to team up with and design a solution for a policy challenge you have come across- who would it be?
Scott Kieff, former US International Trade Commissioner and professor at GW Law.  Scott sees the big picture and can relate to the perspective of both innovators and regulators.

*follow on Twitter @Beaurichly 

Richard Boly boated down the Amazon from Columbia to the Atlantic. Solo cycled from DC to SF. Spent a week living in the Stone Age with the Huaorani people of the Amazon. Climbed to the second furthest point from the earth’s center. Drove from Ecuador to Southern Chile and back. One of the first people to dive the wreck of the largest Spanish galleon, La Capitana. Former career US diplomat. Founded and ran a shrimp hatchery in costal Ecuador. Helped launch the original Apple Macintosh computer. Conceived and launched the Global Entrepreneurship Program. Spent half his life since 1985 overseas. Degrees from Stanford and UCSD. Now a free agent.

Richard Boly
Leadership Lessons 
My Bike Across America Tumblr

During Startup Europe Comes to Silicon Valley (SEC2SV) 2017, Mind the Bridge and Dell will host a Policy Hack on 18 September at the MTB Innovation Center in San Francisco to pull together a set of transatlantic recommendations for policy solutions. These will feed into the Startup Nations Summit (SNS), a global summit to take place in Estonia in November 2017 that will discuss the challenges digital disruption brings to the public sector in its role to set the rules of the game for entrepreneurs and innovators.

The SNS Policy Hack will take place on 22 November in Tallinn. Hosted by the Estonian Presidency of the EU and the Global Entrepreneurship Network and powered by Dell, the European Commission, EIT Digital and Startup Estonia, it will allow policymakers from across the globe to validate and test policies to make it easier for regulators and startups to talk to each other in their respective ecosystems.