Startups Studio at Orange (Seasons 1 to 3)
The Intrapreneurs Studio program: from season 1 to season 2
In January 2017, we initiated the season 1 of the Intrapreneurs program in a 3 steps process, 1) Application, 2) Qualification, and 3) Incubation, as described in this previous post.
In January 2018, we handled the season 2 of the Intrapreneurs program with a very encouraging success reflecting an increasing awareness of the program:
- A 100% increase in the applications received (90 files);
- 250 attendees watching the intrapreneurs pitchs, at the jury session that finalizes the Qualification phase (2,5 more than in 2017);
- A more diverse Qualification class of 13 projects including 30% women, and an internationalisation with 2 new countries Poland and Slovakia, in addition to France; also the Qualification graduates chose the name of a woman: Gabrielle Chanel!
- Sponsorship works! 100% of the projects selected for Qualification had found a business unit to support their project;
- 3 projects were selected by the jury to go for Incubation phase, and the Polish project was awarded with an international prize; the 3 projects reflect a rich diversity:
- A TV dongle that simulates a PC in the cloud, proposed by an intrapreneur from the innovation division;
- A connected key-box, that lets authorized technicians enter a building, opening the box with their smartphone: it was suggested by a field technician working on Fiber installation;
- A mobile app that lets African consumers make appointment to get what they have ordered online, even if they don’t have an accurate physical address to share, suggested by an engineer working on the Orange Money service.
Looking back at season 1, we learned that:
- Some projects have continued (3 of them) even if they were not selected for incubation; this is a lesson that we shared in season 2 in an ‘after-jury’ session, with all the intrapreneurs that were not selected for incubation;
- Qualification phase, in another word this pre-incubation phase, needed to be fully hands-on, and put application of learning in practice: therefore we refined the season 2 Qualification, with a 100% focus on practical tools (empathy map, business model canvas, minimum viable product, leadership role game, pitch preparation) applied to the intrapreneurs’ projects; given this area of focus and the participation of international intrapreneurs, we shortened the Qualification to 10 days;
- Incubation phase showed that intrapreneurs have a natural tendency to lean forward product building; in season 2, we coach them toward users problems investigation, fall in love with the users’ problem, not with your solution; we also kept the pace of transversal coaching days, where we gather all the intrapreneurs to work on a specific topic, to keep the class spirit that raised during the Qualification stage;
- Also, though the Studio provides a strong acceleration to the projects, deriving from the star-up organization that we adopt, the cycle of MVP design, user testing, and iteration to improve the Business Model, turns out to much longer than planned, and our assumption of 6 months often translates in twice.
The Intrapreneurs Studio program: animating season 3
Following the season 2 Qualification & Jury, the Incubation stage has started, and concurrently the Season 3 has opened for applications.
To inspire candidates, we have run a specific Business Model Innovation barcamp, where we presented 11 new business models that Orange could conduct in the areas of consumption, work collaboration, and planet preservation.
The 60 participants elected 4 value proposition, and split into groups to fulfill a corresponding business model canvas.
We also ran local innovation / intrapreneurship workshop in Slovakia, both to help structure innovation projects initiated by Orange Slovakia, and entice intrapreneurs applications. Future workshops are in the radar for Poland, Spain, and Senegal.
The transformative effects, and the business impacts
The Intrapreneurs program has obvious trasnformative effects:
- Employees who stand out as intrapreneurs become head of an internal start-up: they learn a lot about innovation, and business development, they get a lot of visibility, and live an overarching experience;
- They are also a living example of what is possible for their colleagues, and thus they spread the entrepreneurial spririt mong all employees;
- Managers are transformed too as they learn to let go resources to staff the projects: in many cases the resources come from the innovation division, and staffing is business as usual; in some cases, employees who join the intrapreneur project come from other division: in this case, their manager open a window of opportunity for their collaborator;
- Finally business units are involved very upstream in the innovation process: as a sponsor they take part to a quarterly project board, and they are often solicitated by the intrapreneur to channel his MVP towards customers; the business units can provide their feedback very early, when it’s still time to pivot; and it forces them alos to take one step back from the daily business.
Of course, an intrapreneur project is not only a transformative tool: it’s a full win when it manages to transition from MVP, with first customers appeal, to business transformation. For the season 1 projects, after almost 18 months of incubation, we are at this crossroad where intrapreneurs have to prepare the hand-over to business units, to let their projects scale-up.
To optimize this pathway, we have joined an international peer group working on corporate scale-up. Preparing product industrialization, proving comprehensive business model canavas, jumping over the chasm to conquest early adopters, growing the team, and molding into the system of the business unit of destination with adequate business plan, some are the steps outlined by the peer group, and which our intrapreneurs are performing.
The way forward
The intrapreneurs rocket is in orbit at Orange!
Our next steps will be to capitalize on the work of the corporate scale-up group, from which we aim at shaping a new tool, the Corporate Scale-Up Canvas, that every corporate entrepreneur will be able to use.
In parallel, we want to develop the program at international scale, and thereby enhance local incubation and innovation capabilities of the Orange teams. To achieve this, we bet on a domino effect where the leading countries which have adopted intrapreneurship, will serve as an engine, and entail the next countries to follow.
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Nicolas Bry is Orange Startups Studio COO, an agile entity within Orange Innovation, to incubate internal and external start-ups. International innovation executive, his job is to set up innovation units for new business, in the digital industry. International speaker, entrepreneurs coach, innovation teacher, and ECC freelance consultant, follow him at @nicobry, and catch a glimpse at his articles on RapidInnovation.fr.
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