Stanford Seminar - Silicon Valley & The U.S. Government: In-Q-Tel’s Steve Bowsher

Stanford Seminar - Silicon Valley & The U.S. Government: In-Q-Tel’s Steve Bowsher

Steve Jurvetson's Career and Advice

  • Steve Jurvetson co-founded Netlabs, which had notable venture capitalists on its board, and worked for several startups with varying outcomes.
  • He advises young venture capitalists to focus on the deals they make and ensure some are successful, rather than dwelling on missed opportunities.
  • Jurvetson emphasizes the importance of gaining operating experience in a relevant field before pursuing venture capitalism.

In-Q-Tel (InQT)

  • InQT, a non-profit organization created by the CIA, bridges the gap between innovation in startups and technical challenges faced by the agency.
  • It acts as an investor, establishing relationships with startups and providing funding, product influence, and opportunities to pilot products within government agencies.
  • InQT measures success through pilots, adoptions, and the qualitative impact of engagements.
  • It has expanded to work with multiple government agencies, invests internationally, and provides insights on geopolitical events and strategies of countries like China.
  • InQT's value lies in helping government-facing companies secure their first government customer and making them successful for future contracts.
  • InQT facilitated the entry of companies like Palantir and Anduril into the government market, securing initial contracts with agencies like the CIA, DIA, and NGA.


  • InAccel supports startups by providing investment and a work program to validate products and acquire initial customers.
  • It specializes in dual-use companies that can serve both commercial and government customers.
  • InAccel assists companies in understanding the government market, navigating procurement processes, and building federal sales teams.
  • Current focus areas include big data analytics, AI, cybersecurity, and hardware such as microelectronics and commercial satellites.

Government Adoption of Commercial Technology

  • The US intelligence community and State Department are increasingly adopting commercial satellite technology.
  • Engaging with the commercial tech startup world is crucial to access talent and expertise in areas like autonomy, AI, cybersecurity, and sensor platforms.
  • Government spending is shifting towards commercial technology, presenting opportunities for students interested in the intersection of government, innovation, and technology.

Advice for Entrepreneurs and Aspiring Venture Capitalists

  • Entrepreneurs should validate product ideas by talking to potential customers and understanding their needs before building anything.
  • Students should consider taking classes on lean startup methodologies to learn efficient product development and validation.
  • Aspiring venture capitalists should develop skills in evaluating teams, technology, and markets, as well as building relationships and networks.
  • Being the first to acquire customers and establish partnerships is crucial in a new venture.
  • Building relationships with classmates can be more valuable than academic achievements due to the network effect.
  • In the business world, having an opinion and making recommendations based on imperfect information is essential, even if it means embracing uncertainty.

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