State of Tandem



Jonathan Aberman, Managing Director of Amplifier Ventures and Founder of TandemNSI

About once a quarter, I try to provide everyone with an update on how well we are delivering against our mission to bring together National Security Agencies and high-growth entrepreneurs to advance innovation. Earlier this month, we hosted an event “Discuss: The Government is More Innovative Than you Think.” As has been the case for our events since our launch party in February, we brought together a diverse mix of entrepreneurs and national security agency employees. I know that Trish Barber, our community manager, has already posted a piece on the event so I won’t repeat a discussion about it here. But, it did strike me as I reflected on the event, we really have come a long way in a short time.

Believe it or not, the TandemNSI community has had 22 events since mid February. During that time we’ve added more than 1,000 people to our growing an vibrant community, and have worked with an absolutely alphabet soup collection of agencies: DARPA, DIA, DHS, ONR, Army REF, and Air Force OSR to name a few. When we started TandemNSI with the grant from the Commonwealth, I stated that although I was optimistic that there would prove to be demand, I really had no expectation things would grow so quickly.

As I go about my business here in town I am finding more and more often that TandemNSI is known in and outside of government, as is its message – that to really provide for innovation in the 21st century national security agencies must engage with and work with, the wide range of talented people that currently are invisible to them. They are also hearing the ancillary message that the agencies must change their business practices to make it easier for entrepreneurs and startups to work with our national security establishment. The White Paper we recently released on this topic has reverberated within the Pentagon and elsewhere, and I think that people are starting to listen.

Meanwhile, our business mentorship offering, the Venture Advisors Program, under the direction of Alex Murphy has started to accelerate. You’ll see some interesting case studies on our website now, and expect to see more over the next months. We believed that by bringing experienced serial entrepreneurial advice to federally funded small companies we could help them grow. That certainly seems to be the case.  We’re excited about the Venture Advisor Program, and I hope that you will spread the word about its existence and use it yourself if you are an entrepreneur trying to grow a federally funded technology business.

As we head into the fall, we plan on remaining on path for a strong first year of operations. Events are being set up for September and October to provide further opportunities for our community to meet up, and to share experiences. Look out for further details as we firm up our Coffee and Donuts schedule, as well as events surrounding robotics and other emerging areas. Also expect us to do some more policy work, and share what we are learning about opportunities in our community so that we can all work together to continue to develop our community.

I hope that you are enjoying being part of the growing TandemNSI community and that it is valuable to you. For my part I thank you for being part of what started out as a personal mission, and one that with each day gets more exciting and gratifying.  You know, in many ways, starting TandemNSI was like the experience you have of arranging a party. You know that feeling – it’s 7:10pm and you are wondering if anyone is going to show up.  Well, in a way, starting TandemNSI was like that. So, when you turn up at an event and I look pleased to see you now you know why!

Enjoy the rest of your summer and see you soon,


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