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Regulatory Hacking


regulatory hacking

noun | \ˈre-gyə-lə-ˌtȯr-ē\ \ˈhak\-ing

a strategy combining public policy and alternatives to traditional marketing for startups to successfully scale in the next wave of the digital economy



Master the Toolkit to Succeed in the Next Wave

Every day in the news, we hear new stories of unbelievable technology — smart objects, drones, artificial intelligence, robotics, virtual reality — making its way into new corners of our lives. The next wave of the digital economy is upon us and will inevitably take entrepreneurs to harder and harder industries, where enormous financial returns are theirs for the taking.


The way growth hacking was the mantra for yesterday’s entrepreneurs, regulatory hacking will be the new tool of the trade for the digital era.

Why? Invariably, government and giant institutions play key roles in so much of our global economy. The education startup with a technology solution to enhance lifelong learning must work with the state legislatures, school boards and accreditation agencies. A transportation startup cutting down commute times won’t be able to ignore the mayor, city council, zoning commissions or permitting offices for long.

Regulatory hacking does for tomorrow’s startups what product and market hacks did for companies like Dropbox or Pinterest. Now, startups can go on the offense, using technology to capitalize on laws like Notarize has done. Startups can also play defense, arming themselves like Airbnb for legal battles against municipalities.

There is an entirely new toolkit for tomorrow’s high-growth companies: working with government, forming partnerships, grasstops connections, grassroots networks, influencer activation, coalition building, lobbying, public affairs and more. Companies like Opower, who used regulatory hacking to create demand for its solution, demonstrate that you can grow from seed to IPO and beyond in a complicated market while putting substantial dents in the important challenges of our time.

We’ve laid out examples and takeaways in our Regulatory Hacking presentation to prepare entrepreneurs for the work ahead of them. Use the toolkit to your advantage, and change the world.

Relevant Reading


Welcome to the World of Regulatory Hackers

Hacking Regulated Markets to Drive Scale

Airbnb’s Regulatory Hacking Moment

3 Startups Scaling in Tough Industries

5 Steps to Defending Your Startup From Policy Battles

a16z Podcast: The Art of the Regulatory Hack