Afghanistan. North Korea. Russia. The South China Sea. Open a newspaper these days and you’ll read about the numerous problems facing America’s military. Global threats and a dwindling technological advantage have caused the Pentagon to cozy up to Silicon Valley, a relationship from which Palantir and Anduril are but two successful outcomes. Yet, most dual-use startups building emerging technology still struggle to work with the Defense Department. These companies would do well to spend the summer reading comic books — Iron Man, specifically — and absorbing some of the lessons.
Even as the Pentagon has forged more ties to Silicon Valley, many startups still struggle to work with the Defense Department.
Taking inspiration from Tony Stark’s Iron Man — as well as companies like Anduril Industries and Palantir Technologies — Decker argues that companies can see the Pentagon as a partner, not just a customer, and outlines three ways they can better take advantage of myriad government opportunities — from R&D to prototype to production contracts — to expand funding runways and scale in the commercial and defense markets.
- Peter Thiel, the co-founder of PayPal , co-founded Palantir Technologies in 2004 with the idea that an algorithm could be used to hunt terrorists.
- Palmer Luckey, founder of Facebook-acquired virtual reality company Oculus VR, co-founded Anduril Industries in 2017. Anduril applies AI, automation, and edge computing to inform and accelerate defense mission decisions.
Dual-use companies can do this by following three tried-and-true strategies:
- Securing government funding through various channels, to grow and scale on the defense marketplace
- Selling unmodified commercial products to the defense industry before adapting them for defense requirements
- Fully assessing the market opportunity across a wide-ranging collection of agencies and organizations
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