Organisations around the world are being challenged to find new ways of doing things or risk being put out of business by a more progressive and innovative startup or competitor. Because of this, companies big and small are establishing innovation teams and working hard to find new ways to get their employees thinking outside of the box when it comes to product development, business development and marketing.
This has caused a sharp rise in mentions of 'Intrapreneurship' skills in job advertisements and LinkedIn searches. Intrapreneurship involves taking an innovative approach to product and business development as an employee of an existing organisation. As opposed to entrepreneurs launching new products and services under a brand new business, an intrapreneur works for an organisation to launch new products and services under their brand.
To find out a bit more about intrapreneurship, check out my article here.
Over recent years, we've seen a number of organisations attempt to build a culture of intrapreneurship in their teams with varying success. Whilst some have resulted in tokenistic photo opportunities as part of a box-ticking exercise, we've also seen some companies transform the way they do business through effective intrapreneurship in action.
Here are three of my favourite examples:
Bendigo Bank's Launch Of UpBank
In recent years, banks in Australia have not been getting a great wrap. After a series of scandals by the big four banks, consumer trust in big banks is at an all-time low. With more and more young people steering away from traditional banking and exploring other options, legacy Australian brand Bendigo Bank wanted to find a way to reimagine banking whilst still protecting its core brand. Utilising an innovation team and an intrapreneurial approach, the brand launched a sub-brand and neo-bank, UpBank. UpBank set out with a mission to reimagine banking, and by working closely with the customers, the team at UpBank were able to create an offering that appeals to young people by relieving some of the burdens of traditional banking. The neo-bank has done things like redesign their physical debit cards, invest heavily into a user friendly app with a funky interface, offer a handy 'round-up' feature to better help young people save, and do away with all physical branches, instead investing into great online customer service.
Gaining over half a million customers in just five years, Bendigo Bank's launch of UpBank has seen tremendous success with over $3 billion in deposits and a truly out-of-the-box approach to banking that appeals to its predominantly under-35 demographic.
Duolingo's Tiktok Strategy
Language learning app Duolingo is arguably the most successful brand on Tiktok right now, and its success has largely been attributed to its 23-year-old Gen Z social media manager Zaria Parvez. Through taking a very alternative approach to their social media marketing, Duolingo on Tiktok has seemingly abandoned all corporate branding guidelines to instead create content that Gen Z will love. With their account featuring the antics of their owl mascot 'Duo', you can find videos of Duo twerking to trending songs, confessing its love for pop star Dua Lipa, and threatening Duolingo users for not completing their daily language learning challenges on the app.
Whilst such an out-of-the-box approach might have a traditional marketing team hyperventilating, it has worked a treat for Duolingo with the app gaining 4.9 million followers on Tiktok, over 117 million likes, and a click-through rate from marketing campaigns 39% higher than competitors. This is an amazing example of an intrapreneurial approach to marketing and business development carried out by a Gen Z in the workforce.
Crocs Making A Comeback
The final example of truly outstanding corporate intrapreneurship has been the revival of the shoe brand Crocs. Initially gaining popularity in the early 2000s, these plastic shoes had people divided - often attracting criticism for how ugly they were, whilst gaining support for their comfort. In 2018, things were not looking good for Crocs as the company announced that they were closing all manufacturing facilities along with 160 of its retail stores.
At the same time as closing its manufacturing facilities and the majority of its retail outlets, the company brought in a new management team, business strategy and a focus on intrapreneurship, innovation, and doing things differently. By working hard and trying new things, the new team were able to find early success during the pandemic which catapulted them to now become one of the most popular footwear brands in the world. As part of this journey the brand collaborated with big name celebrities, create limited edition runs of shoes in partnership with 7Eleven and Balenciaga, and invested heavily into emerging social media platforms such as Tiktok. Since taking an intrapreneurial approach to business, the brand has seen a 300% increase in share price in 2020-21 and over a $3.5 billion revenue in 2022!
These are just three of the thousands of examples of intrapreneurship in action in companies big and small around the world. As organisations are challenged to innovate in order to stay competitive, it's essential that business leaders invest in their teams and provide staff with an opportunity to take an intrapreneurial approach to product development, marketing and business development.
About The Author:
The tech-head prodigy behind BOP Industries, Scott Millar is a young entrepreneur taking the world by storm. Compared to a young Steve Jobs after turning a year nine business project into a thriving business, Scott finished high school and deferred university to run BOP Industries full time, now with a growing presence around the world. As a now 22-year-old, Scott has recently been named one of Australia’s top 30 under 30 in business, Asia Pacific’s Inspiring Youth Leader for 2019, Queensland's Small Business Leader for 2021, Griffith University Entrepreneur In Residence and an LGBT advocate and leader in Australia and overseas.
To find out more about Scott and to see if he's available to speak at your next event, head to: www.iamscottmillar.com/speaking