Established businesses are turning to startup techniques in their attempts to innovate and grow.
This trend was identified at the International Startup Festival, held in Montreal this earlier year. Workshops aimed at people looking to launch a startup were attended by many non-startup, traditional corporate employees. The trend was so impressive that the workshop on Lean Analytics, run by Alistair Croll and Ben Yoskovitz, directed part of their talk to intrapreneurs.
Intrapreneurs have been an important part of influential companies since the mid-1980s. Some of the world’s most successful tech companies, like Apple, appreciate the necessity of intrapreneurship. As Steve Jobs said in 1985, “the Macintosh team was what is commonly known as intrapreneurship…a group of people going in essence back to the garage, but in a large company."
This back-to-the-garage work ethic is what large companies now want to foster. These companies want to keep their dynamic, innovative workers; finding ways for them to grow within the organization is the best way to retain their valuable entrepreneurial skills.
Stages of growth for intrapreneurs
Intrapreneurs are not simply trying to change the status quo, or develop a new product. They innovate to revitalize, to engage in competition, to find new customers and increase market share.
The first stage of growth is unique to intrapreneurs: a peremptory phase. They need buy-in from key people within the company.
The other stages of growth are similar to those experienced by entrepreneurs in traditional startups. These are an empathy phase, a stickiness phase, a virality phase, a revenue phase and a scale phase.
Intrapreneurs have to be analysts. Their empathy stage, where audience needs are assessed, consists of finding problems which already exist in the company.
This growth stage consists of identifying and creating a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). This minimum could be restricted by regulatory minimums, and is another area where intrapreneurs face different challenges to startups. Existing companies may have greater regulatory minimums due to their existing investment.
The virality growth stage refers to how the product can grow. This is often challenging for intrapreneurs, who must convince their organization that their innovation is essential for success.
Intrapreneurs have more to consider than their startup counterparts. They must prove the fiscal validity of their innovation, but they cannot ignore the existing sales chain in which so much has already been invested. Startups do not have this problem.
The scale phase is where the innovation can grow rapidly. It’s another difference intrapreneurs must face. They now often have to hand their project over, sometimes losing all control.
The successful culmination of the growth phases can be incredibly frustrating for intrapreneurs. If the parent company wants to keep its most innovative minds, it must ensure intrapreneurs are well rewarded.
Sources used in researching this article include the TechCrunch article: The Plight Of The Intrapreneur, Or How to Be An Innovator From Within