Small bets mean incremental investments in projects that keep delivering value and high impact

10x is like a venture studio within the federal government. Traditionally found in the private sector, venture studios are investment offices within a larger business or organization. 10x sources ideas across government, places small bets on risky projects, and eventually hands off a service or product to a long-term steward for ongoing maintenance.

We’ve integrated a lot of these private sector practices within a federal government context. We prioritize ideas that align with 10x's investment priorities. And using a phased approach, we vet in-flight projects continuously, and only continue funding if projects continue to demonstrate impact and deliver value.

Here's a phase-by-phase guide of how 10x supports projects and details why an idea might not move forward. For context, in 2022, we received 181 ideas and selected 25 ideas for the 10x teams to vet. Of those 25 ideas, only seven were approved for funding for Phase 2.

Phase 1, Investigation: Is there a "there" there?

In Phase 1, 10x sets out to answer, "Is this worth investing further?"

In Phase 1, our team dives in to understand if there is a real problem that technology can help solve. We assess whether there is a problem and how many people it impacts. We may find that the impact on the public experience is not large enough to justify investment, that work is already being done to solve this issue, or that 10x is not best equipped to solve it. But if the problem is significant and a potential solution will be impactful, the Phase 1 team will recommend 10x invest more time and dollars in Phase 2, Discovery.

Phase 2, Discovery: understanding the problem space, and the root cause(s)

In Phase 2, we try to unpack that "there" there. We bring in strategists, researchers, product and technical experts to dig deeper into the market and tech landscape, uncover barriers, blockers, and/or other risks that might cause a project to flounder or fail if scaled.

In a Phase 2, the research team may discover that the original idea isn't ultimately a technology problem because it's a people, policy, or funding problem. If this is the case, 10x will choose not to invest more resources developing a product or service.

There are some situations where 10x may pivot from the original idea and change the direction of the project based on the research presented. More commonly, however, 10x discovers that there is a potential technological solution and invests the resources necessary to start developing prototypes.

Phase 3, Develop: prototypes and MVPs

Prototyping a minimum viable product (MVP) lets us kick the tires to see how a solution might work (or not) in the real world. We also use Phase 3 to conduct user testing, and start to find its eventual agency home.

In Phase 3, we want to know if the solution integrates with the agency partner's existing priorities and tech capabilities. We ask what doing this means for existing workflows, and how 10x can help get the agency product owners set up for success after we hand off a solution.

Most 10x projects end after Phase 3, when the product is handed off to its agency product owner. However, a few select projects require more funding and resources so they move on to the next phase of work, Phase 4, Scale.

Phase 4, Scale: your idea in action

During Phase 4, Scale, the team – along with agency sponsors and partners – looks to scale the solution to support different use cases across agencies and programs that drive the biggest impact. Our ultimate goal is to expand the reach to transform digital services for the public.

Read up on some of the Investments that 10x has supported from concept to launch or Submit an idea.