Hacking for Defense™ (H4D) is designed to provide students with the opportunity to learn how to work with the Department of Defense (DoD) and Intelligence Community (IC) to better address the nation’s emerging threats and security challenges. (See the background here.) Unlike current practices in the DoD/IC that can stall and in some cases thwart rapid innovation, this course will provide a platform that can develop minimum viable products (MVPs) and prototypes that match DOD/IC users’ needs in weeks. Agencies or Commands in the Department of Defense and Intelligence Community, or investors, may provide follow-on funding to student teams for further refinement and development of solution prototypes.
In most existing Lean Startup classes, student teams come with a vision of a product or service they’d like to build. In this H4D class, student teams may either select from an existing set of problems provided by the DoD/IC community or introduce their own ideas for DoD/IC problems that need to be solved. Although teams pick a problem to solve, H4D is not a product incubator for a specific technology solution. Instead, it provides teams with a deeper understanding of selected problems and the host of potential technological solutions that might be arrayed against them. Using the Lean LaunchPad Methodology the class focuses teams to:

  1. Profoundly understand the problems/needs of government customers.
  2. Rapidly iterate technology solutions while searching for product-market fit.
  3. Understand all the stakeholders, deployment issues, costs, resources, and ultimate mission value.
  4. Deliver minimum viable products that match customer needs in an extremely short time.
  5. Produce a repeatable model that can be used to launch other potential technology solutions.