Ideas at a given company are worthless without action. Anyone can come up with a great idea but without the proper direction, focus and resources…the idea will never be of value to a company. We had an idea here at Election Systems & Software that could never make its way up to the top of the priorities list so it simply sat on a shelf for years. Until the opportunity to participate in Straight Shot came along. This is a program usually dedicated to helping pure start-ups. The passionate folks that have the dream of turning their idea into something real and then pitching it to investors at a huge demo day event. The 2015 Straight Shot class was business as usual except for one of the teams. A corporate team. I had the honor of being one of two ES&S employees to participate in the first ever ‘corporate’ start up team with Straight Shot. This allowed me to shed 100% of my daily responsibilities as a director and focus on learning the start-up way while developing an idea from the ground up in just under 90 days. It has proved to be an invaluable education that I’m very thankful for.
We were very successful throughout this program for a few reasons. My colleague and I dedicated 100% of our time to turning our idea into something real for our company. We didn’t go back to the office for our regular meetings and spend time putting out the usual fires. We did all the same things the other starts-ups were doing except we had a big advantage and that was our company of 450 employees. We tapped into our marketing, finance, legal, IP, sales and every other department here at ES&S as we needed things. This was a huge advantage for us. Lastly, we were the right people to participate in something like this. Creativity is a key trait but even more important is the ability to build relationships and trust. From day one we were very methodical about the internal stakeholders we needed to get on board with our idea. This proved to be incredibly valuable when it came time to pitch the finished product to our company leadership and ultimately get the green light to move forward with our product idea.
Corporate innovation can take many different forms. We opted for an innovative approach to tackling an innovative idea. So far, so good.
By: Rob Wiebusch of Election Systems & Software