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By Emily Woodman
In today’s business environment, it literally doesn’t pay to stick to tradition and go with the old motto, “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.” Because, unfortunately, many organizations don’t realize that something is indeed “broken” until it’s far too late.
Such was the case with well-known companies, like Blockbuster, the former king of movie rentals, for example. There was a time that they could have implemented changes that would have pushed them ahead of Redbox or maybe even Netflix. Think about it — consumers tend to put their trust (AND money) into household names, rather than taking a chance on their loyalty. So, it stands to reason that customers would have flocked to Blockbuster to rent their favorite flicks without the confines of a brick-and-mortar store. And they did eventually come to this realization, but they had missed their chance at pivoting toward innovation.
Whether your company is a global corporation or a brand-new startup, it’s important to look within your organization to begin to implement change, to create disruptions and, ultimately, to continue to grow. Let’s take a look at a few tips that should put you on the path toward a variety of inspiring new ideas!
1. Identify Your Intrapreneurs
An intrapreneur is an employee who completely understands and embraces the goals and the culture of a business, and will function just like an entrepreneur. Every company has at least one and, if luck is on your side, perhaps more. They are the perfect people to have by your side as you begin to get creative and spread the seeds that will grow your business.
But how do you identify an intrapreneur on your team? They are typically:
- Extremely self-motivated
- Energetic team players
- Always willing to take initiative
- Not afraid to think outside of the box
- Eager to step up to a leadership role
- Phenomenal mentors
- Ready to spring to action
- Fully responsible for their work
2. Schedule Brainstorming
Now that you’ve identified the intrapreneurs who can help you take your company to the next level, what’s the next step? Begin brainstorming immediately! Set up a time at the office that will not take your newly found intrapreneurs away from their work, and give them an open floor to discuss ideas and feel inspired.
Be very clear about the fact you’re not after the ordinary, but you’re looking for something to shake things up. If a business strategy hasn’t worked for other organizations, don’t think that it will work for yours just because you have a better team. Instead, pick up suggestions that are a little risky and will require a lot of input. Remember, there is often no reward without risk!
3. Research and Discover
Once you have a gameplan on the table, it’s time to move into what many refer to as the “discovery stage.” This requires extensive, thorough market research so that you can see where your competitors may have failed and which changes you can make to achieve a positive outcome.
Often, large corporations become too eager to begin utilizing new plans and ideas, without first researching and exploring customer-related evidence that may be imperative to success. In short, you’ll need real-world data to ensure that the best methods are being implemented.
4. Test Your Ideas
And of course, testing your ideas after research may be the most important step. If you execute a strategy without the proper planning and testing, chances are good that it will soon fail or, worse yet, begin to unravel when it will affect the bottom line the most.
It’s best to select a number of test samples, so that you may more accurately ascertain which outcomes will serve both you and your customer base. Whether you’re testing a new product line or an innovative business model, knowing in advance how your customers will respond can allow you to pivot and make changes before doing so is no longer cost-effective.
5. Create an Innovative Culture
Finally, once a system has been established and put in place, maintaining it is a large part of the process. Therefore, creating a culture that fosters innovation is imperative, as the ideas will keep coming, and your intrapreneurs will continue to grow and perhaps even inspire other team members.
Innovation can be contagious. Who wouldn’t want a workplace environment that is always brimming with excitement, always on the brink of the next big thing?
Once this culture becomes a way of life, it can spread beyond the organization and bring fulfillment and creativity to your team outside of their nine-to-five. Once this is set in motion, the stale, standard way of doing things will be left in the past — exactly where it belongs.
Interested in joining the Innovation Cluster and its community of startups?
Check out our incubation programming today!
Two Innovation Cluster Startups Take Home Bears’ Lair Grand Prize for Innovation and Goods & Services Stream - 2019-05-01
Innovative eye care company, Alexander Optical, and health food company, Electric Juice Factory, are looking to be game changers in their industries. The winners for the Innovation and Goods & Services Stream were announced during the 9th annual Bears’ Lair Entrepreneurial Competition on April 30, 2019 at The Venue. The grand prize cash value for each winner was $8,350. The four runners-up each received $1,000. Four out of the six contestants were Innovation Cluster startups.
Three finalists per stream were given a duration of 10 minutes to pitch their business. This time included a Q&A by heavy hitting judges Teresa Kruze, Broadcaster, TV Producer, Best-selling Author and Community Activist; Steve Reble, Owner of etee and Brenda M. Hogan, Senior Investment Manager.
For the Innovation Stream, Alexander Optical took the grand prize. Alexander Optical is increasing access to eye care in the community through organized pop-up clinics that bring professionals on-site to perform comprehensive eye exams and find eyewear solutions. Pop-up clinics are facilitated at locations, such as but not limited to schools, seniors residences and local businesses to benefit patients.
With partnerships including Fleming College, Trent University and local eye care professionals, judges were impressed with the accomplishments the company had completed so far and the potential of growth it can have in the future. Founder Dylan Trepanier went in front of the judges.
“I’m so proud to be a part of such a supportive community and have such incredible mentors that helped me get here,” says Trepanier. “I put my heart into the pitch and I’m feeling blessed that the audience and judges were receptive to the change we are trying to make in the community. I can’t wait to start working with more eye care professionals and employers in the area to bring services to them. I can hardly wait to see what the future holds.”
Trepanier says winning Bears’ Lair will help when promoting the company to eye care professionals.
“I know Bears’ Lair is exactly what we needed to take our business to the next level and get the support we are looking for with the community,” says Trepanier. “The prize money is going to be poured into marketing to develop a direct marketing campaign to speak to employers and eye care professionals in the area and encourage them to try working with Alexander Optical and see the difference we can make for them.”
For the Goods & Services Stream, Innovation Cluster startup Electric Juice Factory took the top prize. Cheryl Gould went in front of the judges pitching the company’s innovative smoothie puck product, successfully impressing the panel. The company recently launched the product in five flavour options in addition to its array of raw plant-based juices.
Gould expressed her gratitude toward the community that has been a continued support over social media after winning, saying, “It’s time to get to work.”
Local Startup Wakhal Transforms How Social Media Can Connect Community Groups Through Online Platform - 2019-04-30
Local digital startup, Wakhal, has officially launched its community building platform, Community4E. Using the four (4) E’s of community building, Engagement, Empowerment, Education and Entertainment, the platform mirrors the trust characteristics of a local, “in-person” community but on a virtual and global scale.
Wakhal Founder Rojit Sorokhaibam says, “Social media has existed for more than a decade and, while social media is a powerful platform, we believe it is ready for an evolution. There is an urgent need to reset the course of social media development so that the very basis of every interaction is one based on trust, privacy, and protection for those that use it.”
Community4E is a modern intranet collaboration platform between organizations and their stakeholders that offers vital tools to improve productivity and aids problem-solving, making it a vital pillar in the infrastructure of a business or an association of like-minded organizations.
“Using a white-label approach, the platform enhances organizational engagement by creating a community-branded social media site,” says Founder Rojit Sorokhaibam.
Wakhal is currently offering its solution to the Innovation Cluster, Peterborough, in partnership with the City of Kawartha Lakes Economic Development, Spark Commercialization and Innovation Centre in the Durham Region, Parry Sound Muskoka Community Network, Muskoka, Global Homeopathy User Community and more. From all the participating communities, the platform has attracted over 40,000 registered users so far.
The Innovation Cluster’s programming connects its community of startups with innovation specialists, angel investors and knowledge partners. With the number of remote clients actively growing, the Cluster is looking to use the platform to better connect these entrepreneurs to its ecosystem.
“We are excited to implement our programming on this platform which will allow for more cross-collaboration that is no longer limited by geographical location,” says John Gillis, President and CEO of the Innovation Cluster. “Other key outcomes we aim to achieve through Community4E is improved reporting, more extensive client data, and a reduction in the overall administrative footprint of running an incubator.”
Similarly, east of the GTA, Durham Region is experiencing a boom in the number of innovation companies calling the region, and Eastern Ontario, home. Spark Centre is responding to this boom by partnering with innovation centres from Pickering to Kingston and developing a robust Eastern Ontario innovation network that includes both regional and international innovation cells.
“Community4E is exactly what we are looking for, a community platform that is private, secure and enables engagement across multiple innovation cells, time zones and cultures,” says Sherry Colbourne, CEO of Spark Centre. “The platform will allow our Startup Visa applicants to engage with the Eastern Ontario innovation ecosystem well in advance of immigrating to the region and will develop our cross cultural ties to international markets. It will also allow our local startups to capitalize on the phenomenal talent that exists in the region and abroad and supports our very deliberate polycentric development of the Eastern Ontario innovation ecosystem.”
Wakhal is also participating in and has pre-qualified for Startup Canada’s Global Entrepreneur Cohort and investment competition Muskoka 4.0.
With the browser version of Community4E launched, Wakhal is now inviting community organizations and business owners to sign up and use the platform in order to collaborate and stay connected with their members.
Wakhal aims to be the next generation of social media platforms that connects community members and like-minded groups to one another utilizing Wakhal’s unique virtual identity and verifiable approach. This approach enables individuals to connect to others through trusted and relevant channels that allow users to share opportunities, expose their talents, and cooperate in a virtual local ‘sharing economy’.
Wakhal is working to re-define social media into a productive and useful tool in an age of communication and collaboration. The research suggests that people want a safer and more relevant place online, where like-minded people can stay connected with a tangible sense of community. Community4E is that place.
Those interested can contact Founder & CEO Rojit Sorokhaibam at email@example.com
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