One of my earliest blogs here was about my conviction that we could, in fact, create and build successful entrepreneurs. After two cycles of Innoventures, I have a better understanding of what we can and cannot do. Softtek is a well-established IT-services organization, the largest in LatAm, which houses some of Mexico’s brightest engineers. Innoventures was developed to foster innovation and intrapreneurship in Softtek’s traditional environment in Mexico.
Innoventures and Intrapreneurship
Innoventures actively reached out to about 5,000 employees seeking ideas that could advance Softtek’s business strategies in the software, cloud, and mobile industries. The program coaches, advances, and cultivates entrepreneurship. Both internal and global communication teams also heavily advertise and encourage the program and host Innovation Days across all offices in Mexico.
In 2014, when the program was initially introduced, approximately 110 applicants reached out to Innoventures. In 2015, the number dropped to approximately 70. Initial applicants start the program with simple ideas that are developed into business plans through rigorous, Innoventures-monitored coursework. In 2014, approximately 50% of the applicants completed the course to submit a completed business plan. In 2015, we expect the participation rate to be lower.
What we have found may not seem surprising to some. Engineering skills do not naturally translate to business or entrepreneurial skills. Innoventures, despite the effort to coach and train intrapreneurs, cannot create intrapreneurs. Instead, Innoventures can appeal to those with an existing interest, albeit sometimes buried, in entrepreneurship. Innoventures is a way for this group of missed entrepreneurs to come forward and shine.
For those who have a tiny aspiration, hidden somewhere, of finding their entrepreneurial dreams, Innoventures offers hope. To this group of individuals, we are able to nurture their dreams, provide a collaborative environment, and train them to think of starting big things.
Entrepreneurship is not the chosen path for everyone. For some of us, it’s difficult to imagine why all of Softtek would not devote their effort to the Innoventures process. As the years go on, and as Innoventures expands to other geographic areas, we are more cognizant of the kind of people we are looking for. We are no longer trying to convert the brightest minds to become intrapreneurs. Instead, we are looking for the pure, natural, perhaps undiscovered entrepreneurial spirit.