THE BLOG
08/21/2014 01:05 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

What Does Y-Combinator and the White House Have in Common?

Y-Combinator's new batch of nonprofit startups and the White House are using the lean startup. The Lean Startup framework is not exclusive to startups in Silicon Valley, but for all institutions and entities looking to test new innovations quickly and ultimately bring new ideas to life.

By using an agile, continuous deployment tool like the lean startup, government leaders and social innovators can experiment with new ways to solve old problems scientifically. For example, with help from the White House, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) created Development Innovation Ventures. It is similar to a venture capital fund that provides fiscal resources and technical expertise to global startups after first conducting due diligence evaluations.

Development Innovation Ventures has pumped life into social innovations that bring hygienic latrines to Kenya, prevent pre-eclampsia among pregnant woman in rural Nepal, and generate electricity to the villages of Tanzania. By finding and funding evidenced-based interventions, governments can essentially "pay for success" and leverage public-private partnerships to scale successful interventions. Adopting The Lean Startup methodology can empower governments to optimize taxpayer dollars and experiment with innovation.

Governments are not the only ones using Eric Reis's methodology; leaders of nonprofits are working to implement it, as well. For example, Black Girls Code's program participants explained how they used lean startup to build tech apps at the 2013 Lean Startup Conference. In addition, Y-Combinator -- the most prestigious venture accelerator -- recently accepted a batch of startup nonprofits using lean startup, such as One Message and Noora Health, that are unleashing the power of tech to tackle social sector issues.

If you are a social innovator interested in using the lean startup, start by reading the Ultimate Dictionary of Lean for Social Good. Afterwards, check out the model below that I created for you to start thinking about how to use the lean startup:

2014-07-01-Slide3.jpg