Can you name America’s largest startup? It’s not Facebook or Amazon or even Home Depot. It isn’t even a technology company.
This little known giant is the Transportation Security Administration and its massive scale up offers a roadmap for entrepreneurs eager to turn big ideas into sustainable businesses.
The secret isn’t just a clear mission or a risk-taking culture, though both are important. For us, building an organization at breakneck speed – and returning a jittery public to the skies – meant rapid business model experimentation and imposing a strict methodology for measuring progress each step of the way.
The TSA was created 10 years ago this month following 9/11 and in its first 13 months processed a million job applications, interviewed 125,000 candidates, hired 60,000 people, purchased $1 billion of security equipment and set up security at 450 airports. All this was done under intense Congressional scrutiny – and not without a few hiccups. You can imagine what a shoe bomber does to your business plan three weeks after opening the doors.