Designing success

We build success through careful experimentation.

We are always evaluating our own approach to investing to ensure we use best practices from the private-sector investors. For example, we’ve recently been experimenting with distinct investment themes — targeted areas of the government tech ecosystem that we wanted to explore and invest in. We got this idea from talking with and learning from venture capital investors in the private sector. While all ideas are still up for consideration, we wanted to try something different by tailoring our pipeline into specific areas. Our current themes are:

Digital foundations

From bridges to broadband, we believe 10x has an opportunity to explore the digital landscape that will accompany new infrastructure investments and to do what 10x does best: solve problems and uncover transformative opportunities.

Equity in delivery

This has been a focus of 10x for years and we’re carrying it into FY23. From our work with bias in AI to reimagining ways to bridge the digital divide, we believe our projects have demonstrated the value of the 10x model, and highlight how ripe the equitable tech space is for new innovation.

We felt that these areas were unique, apt, and ripe for investigation. While we accept ideas on all topics, ideas that align to these themes will receive greater attention when we're deliberating on which project ideas to fund.

Lessons learned for smart tech investment

After five years of navigating the world of government technology, we’ve learned several lessons to help us optimize project success.
Be intentional in your investment focus.Prior to 2019, 10x had no defined investment strategy or areas of focus. Ideas were scattered, and it was difficult to find common threads of work. Developing an investment approach has made it easier for both 10x and for individuals applying for 10x funding to understand what is required by the program.
Successful projects have clear objectives.In the beginning, 10x did not define milestones that could be standardized across projects. We now have specific meta questions that must be answered by each project at every phase, which allows us to make consistent, fair judgements about moving projects forward.
Clearly communicate the criteria used to evaluate ideas. This helps people understand why their idea was or wasn’t selected and ensures a consistent approach between different evaluators.
Keep an open mind and embrace unknown outcomes. It's important to acknowledge that some projects will deliver unexpected impact and others — even the most compelling — may turn out to be duds. In the world of investments, you only need a few home runs to make all the other projects that didn't pan out worth it.