I am exploring a tech startup business idea that would provide a data service to the federal government. In order to validate the concept, I need to understand, in some detail, a particular function of a specific government agency. I would like to speak with someone who has previously held a specific role at the agency (ideally in the past couple of years).
The role is neither executive management nor entry-level -- somewhere in between. I estimate that there are several hundred people currently with this role and perhaps a thousand people who have previously held the role.
The government agency would be a major target customer for my business. Depending on how the agency operates, it could have significant ramifications for how I build my product. It could even render the business model invalid. Before building a prototype and getting in front of the right decision maker, I would like to confirm that the prototype would be worthwhile and solve a real need.
Do any of the expert networks like GLG, AlphaSights, etc. specialize in government? I have tried LinkedIn but nobody in my network can introduce me to someone who has held this particular role at this agency. How could I get connected with this person?
I've worked on large civilian and defense projects for the Federal Government while working for two top-tier management/technology consulting firms and one smaller technology consulting firm. Have you considered approaching some of the big management/technology consulting firms that do most of their work with the federal government? I'm thinking about companies like Booz Allen Hamilton, CSC and SAIC.
I'm pretty sure these companies have the contacts within the federal government agency you'd like to speak to about your project. The Partners at these companies usually have a pretty good idea what the agencies are looking for, so you may want to think about validating the idea through the companies, leveraging their network of connections. Many of the Partners have come from the Federal government.
If the companies see your product as a valuable service, they can then help you get in front of the right people at the federal government agency to speak to about it.
I have a pretty strong network within companies like this and would be happy to discuss further on a call. Either way, best of luck to you!
I'd recommend trying Groups on LinkedIn for whatever industry your invention is in. Then post an open question and start connecting to people in that field who may have connections who know the type of person you're looking to contact.
You can also search résumés for those currently seeking work, but who have previously held that job. Start simple on Craigslist in Alexandria, VA or Washington, D.C. or whatever city is likely to be home to the profession you want to know more about.
You can also search the USPTO's site (or Google Patents) for inventors who have made similar devices, then try to connect with them through LinkedIn or other sources. As long as it's a non-competing invention, they may be willing to connect.
I hope this helps!
Hi. If you are based in DC, network, network, network. Tools like LinkedIn or Conspire might be of help to trace your path to your target person, whether or not you are in DC. If you are not based in DC, make trips here and network. Once you have found a path, then you need to consider how to approach the said person. Ask your contacts on the way for insights. Are there rules that might impeed said person to communicate with you? If yes, what are ways around them? More often than not, there is a way. Is this the kind of person who will respond to an awesome (give and take) "cold" email? The kind of person who will only meet with you to repay a favor? Read up on said person as much as possible, there might be relevant nuggets out there about him/her. Make it easy for people to help you! Anticipate or ask them what you can do to facilitate the intro they might be able to provide for you. Most importantly, as a practice, help people around you. They will be happy to help someone who has helped them in the past.