“I think there should be a symbiotic relationship,” he said. “It shouldn’t just be around M&A. I don’t think we’ve seen that yet. I think that’s the next innovation. It’s how do intrapreneurs work? How do entrepreneurs work?”
|Annette Domnik, CMO of Zarbee's Naturals|
Highlighting commonalities that drive intrapreneurship and entrepreneurship was Annette Domnik, chief marketing officer of Zarbee’s Naturals, a maker of natural lozenges, vitamins and immune support products. Many successful innovations have emanated from large companies, and Domnik said prior to joining Zarbee’s she had worked on the Procter & Gamble Co. team that developed and introduced the Oral B plaque remover, the first electric toothbrush oscillator.
“What I have seen in respect to commonality of culture are two things,” she said. “One is absolute ownership of the team. There are still pockets in large cultures where the concept of ‘don’t rock the boat, I’m here to advance my career, but I don’t want to be controversial,’ still exist. When you are putting together an intrapreneurial team, that complete ownership and honesty — what is the consumer really interested in? — is absolutely critical.
“The second thing, from a cultural perspective is the need to incubate and not merely to validate through stage gate testing a really big idea. You need to test, learn, fail cheaply and quickly and really have the spirit of incubation. Don’t wait until everything is perfect before you interact with the world, with your consumers who are going to make or break you.”
“I think in large organizations there are still instances where siloes need to be broken down significantly,” she said. “If you can get small cross-functional teams that can work well together and know the organization well enough where they know where to leverage the scale but still truly have ownership of the project, that’s where the magic happens where you develop products not only with functional benefits for consumers but products with emotional connection. We were those intrapreneurs. We were those serial disruptors. Success is not a function of size. It is a function of mindset.”
|||READ MORE: Big food in the age of the entrepreneur|||
|Joshua Sigel, COO of Innit|
Joshua C. Sigel, COO of Innit, said habits are difficult to break within corporate cultures. Based in Redwood City, California, Innit is an eating technology company focused on connecting the consumer “with the ritual from how one decides what they’re going to eat every day to how they are going to cook that food and everything in between,” he said. The early stage business involves partnerships between food manufacturers, appliance makers, retailers and health professionals.
Discussing corporate culture, Sigel described a recent meeting with a large potential corporate partner that seemed to be going well.
“There was very senior management in the room,” he said. “They talked about agility, and ‘We want to leverage your process. We want to emulate how you work as a start-up.’ And then right away we got pulled back into, ‘Then it’s going to have to go to this department, and we’re going to need approval. Then we need to go here.’ The CEO of the company stopped everybody and said, ‘You know what? Send them the logo.’ What he meant was get out of the way. What they are doing is what we want. Let’s not involve ourselves for the sake of involving ourselves.
Companies large and small benefit from a changed mindset among retail buyers, the gatekeepers who decide what products will be offered on supermarket shelves, Dubitsky said.
“It used to be as a buyer, the big dilemma was in saying yes, because there was too much risk,” he said. “Now it has turned quite a bit, and the bigger risk is not taking something that seems to have a millennial bent or a bias toward a more natural proposition. The bigger risk is not to have it.”