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Entrepreneurship and Intrapreneurship – Both/And

Friday, September 14, 2018
start-up business qualities

The word entrepreneurship is a scary term to some people who relegate it to a small percentage of the population who are reckless and risk lovers. Not so – it may be more common than one thinks. Even large companies often promote the principles of entrepreneurship, sometimes called intrapreneurship. It is important for them to engage their own employees in entrepreneurial and innovative thinking and action. Without it, they could be forced to go the way of Woolworths, Borders, Blockbuster, Pan Am, Toys ‘R’ Us and a host of other once profitable companies.

Intrapreneurship is a term popularized by Howard Haller, Gifford Pinchott III, and Steve Jobs. Today, several large companies actively promote intrapreneurship within their organization. Google and Intel are well known for allowing employees to spend 10%-20% of their time on innovative ideas of their own. More and more, big companies are aware of their need for innovation and intrapreneurship.

These well-known examples of intrapreneurial success inside of a mega company are representative of many more:
  • Mac, iPod, iTunes, iPhone, iCloud inside of Apple
  • Gmail, Google News, Google Maps, Driverless Cars, and many other innovations inside of Google
  • PlayStation inside of Sony
  • Post-It Notes inside of 3M
  • SkunkWorks fighter jet inside of Lockheed
  • Java programming language inside of Sun Microsystems
  • Digital Light Processing inside of Texas Instruments
How does this happen? Employees need to know that it is OK to toy around with new ideas; it is OK to make mistakes and that failure will not be punished. Companies need to hire people who have a wiring for innovation and entrepreneurship and can make decisions on their own.

Patrice Caine, CEO and Chairman of the 65,000 employee French Thales Company, is an example of a person who embraces innovation and entrepreneurship. He suggests that a large company like his and others have much to learn from entrepreneurs, and he states that “…there are two main ways in which large companies can benefit from start-ups’ driving force for innovation and transformation.”

“The first is being inspired and learning from their flexibility, their adaptability, from their trial-and-error culture. With their lean structures and ability to make decisions in a heartbeat, start-ups tend to be more and more responsive to passing opportunities compared to large companies with their demanding, but somewhat painstaking, approval procedures.

Rather than completely overhauling the way they work – a process that, in itself takes time – companies have the option of incubating internal start-ups, preferably with a degree of liberty towards the central hierarchical structure. These can work either on customer projects or on the digital transformation of the company itself, through specific programs or employee training courses for example. That is the spirit of the Thales Digital Factory, located in the WeWork office building in Paris.

Learning from start-ups’ flexibility also means picking-up on their beta -, or Minimum Viable Product (MVP) – culture. Instead of spending a lot of time developing a perfect product, the idea is to deliver a rough draft quickly, that can then be improved with the client and/or end users.

One example of this – even though Google can hardly qualify as a start-up – was Google maps: the first version was just a map, which gradually started incorporating information such as traffic, stores, restaurants, customer opinions, etc. This evolution is interesting because it is part of a global cultural change, with more and more appetite for testing, experimenting, but also for outside insight and collective intelligence.

Working with startups

The second way big companies can benefit from start-ups is by partnering: identifying the most promising start-ups in the field and finding new, interesting ways to work with them.

The ‘identifying’ part can be more challenging than it sounds, with over 300,000 start-ups created in the world every year. How do you find the ten, one hundred, one thousand start-ups that have something new to bring to your industry? It is really up to every company to find the hidden gems where they are in the world… and then to enter into creative partnerships with them.

That is the idea behind Starburst, a start-up accelerator with a focus on aerospace and defense technologies. The success of these new types of partnerships shows how useful they are for all parties: the benefit is obvious for large companies – who can keep their pulse on the latest market evolutions – but also for start-ups, who can test their technologies, be mentored by professionals, and acquire new credibility in their field. 1 

IBEC of course works with start-ups, and Mr. Caine’s comments are a reminder to start-ups that they may find their success in partnering with others. What might it take to be “identified” by a larger company as a partner – to their benefit and yours?

Daniel Gunaseelan’s story was told on this site on June 25, 2016. While selling products in the oil and gas industry in western Kazakhstan, he gained valuable experience and made quality contacts for what later developed into the start-up Gateway Ventures. Daniel is a great example of Kingdom, missional living and entrepreneurial focus within an established company. It is worth reading again.

1 Published for the annual event VivaTech. “Innovation: Big companies have so much to learn from Start-ups” by Patrice Caine, May 24, 2018 in Linkedln with the hashtags #VivaTech. #VivaThales

Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

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Pabi – Employee of the Month at Purnaa company, Nepal

Friday, September 07, 2018
man fishing

IBEC has been a friend of Fair Flies since founder Jeff Coffey attended our seminars and got the vision for kingdom entrepreneurship. He was already a serial entrepreneur, but he saw how integrating faith and work was a wonderful way to bring new life in Jesus to those who have never heard. Check out this unique start-up, especially if you like fishing.

They recently awarded the Employee of the Month to Pabi, one of the workers in their Nepal factory, which seeks to empower those unemployed and underprivileged. 

Here are some segments from her interview. Purnaa is a World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) Guaranteed company.

Congratulations, you won the employee of the month award! How did you feel when you found out that you won?

I didn’t expect it, but I was very happy and very glad to hear my name.

We want to get to know you a little bit better. Can you tell us about your family?

I have one son and one daughter. My son is 7 and my daughter is 2. My son lives with his father, and my daughter lives with her aunt. I am currently staying at a shelter home.

What do you like to do in your free time?

Normally I like to just stay home and relax. When I am relaxing, I like to talk with the other ladies I live with and sometimes read the Bible. Whenever I get a chance though, I try to go and visit my children.

What is something fun or interesting you have done recently?

Very recently, we had a birthday party for Indira. She is the woman who runs the shelter home where I am staying. There were games, snacks, and dancing. I love to dance. I really enjoyed that party.

When have you been the most satisfied in your life?

The day when I gave birth to my baby boy was the most satisfying day of my life. I was married for 5 years before I got pregnant. That was a difficult time for me and my family. But the day when I gave birth, I said I had been awarded some kind of star from God. It was the happiest moment of my life.

What is your job at Purnaa?

At Purnaa, I make fly-fishing brushes. I also like to encourage my friends, and whenever they make mistakes, I like to help them.

What do you enjoy the most about your job?

Making the brushes is what I like. When I first started, I wondered how I would make enough to reach the target. But now, whatever brush they give me, even if it’s hard right away, slowly and steadily I will get there. I love learning and improving.

How long have you worked at Purnaa?

7 months.

What did you do before you worked at Purnaa?

This is my first job ever. I used to live in a village and do farm work.

What motivated you to come work at Purnaa?

I am very grateful to God that I met Shristi, my friend and colleague. She brought me to Purnaa for the interview. I’m also very happy to have become friends with Rebecca. She has helped to empower me. God has brought so many wonderful people into my life.

What keeps you coming to work?

I like the environment of Purnaa. I have many friends here, so if I stay at home I get bored, and I will not be able to earn money. It has been very helpful to have a community, to be able to socialize with my friends. I am now very hopeful for my future. I feel like I can earn enough, and I can save money. I know I will be empowered, and even if I don’t work here in future, I will be able to find a job somewhere else. I have hope.

How have you changed as a person since working here?

There has been a tremendous change in my life. If you had seen me before, you would also see it. The way I used to think about my life, the way I used to talk with people. I never used to have hope for my future. I always had a negative feeling about my life. But now, the way I think, the way I talk with people, the way I even wear my clothes, it’s all different. I have become so happy. There’s so much hope, and I am at peace. I don’t have to worry about anything now. I’m a new person.

If I were to ask your boss what your greatest strength is, what do you think they would tell me?

I feel like they would say I am a very honest person and am very dedicated to my work.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I just want to say that I really love Purnaa. I am very thankful to Purnaa. I love working here, and I hope that I will continue to grow in my life.

Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

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IBEC Ventures -- Consultants for BAM/Business as Mission