Innovation as a Team Sport – Intuit

by Stefan Lindegaard

YOU: Fresh, dynamic, innovative entrepreneur or company. Relishes out-of-the-box thinking. Eager to deliver new product or service that improves the lives of millions. Web and social savvy. You think in the cloud – as in computing.

US: $3 billion innovative software company. Searching for passionate, spirited people who want to bring new ideas and products to life. Believes innovation is a team sport. Seeking possible long-term relationship. Hope to grow rich together.

Innovation TeamNo, this is not a dating agency. It is a quite unusual message from Intuit which on October 5 hosts their first Entrepreneur Day.

Entrepreneur Day is part of Intuit’s broader initiative to drive mutual growth through open innovation and partnerships. They invite a select group of entrepreneurs, start-ups and small but more-established companies to meet and talk with a broad group of senior Intuit leaders including their founder and CEO.

Such an event is not a new thing in the IT-world, but I hope companies in other industries can learn from Intuit as I find this to be a great example on how you can establish relationships with external partners. Here are a couple of reasons:

1. Well-defined goals

  • Intuit has set some clear goals on what they want to achieve from this initiative. They want to partner with young, dynamic companies to develop and launch innovative product offerings. Specifically, they are looking for:
    • New business opportunities that align with Intuit’s core markets and strategic direction, such as small business, personal financial management, taxation, online banking, personal health care information management and emerging markets.
    • Leading edge technologies that Intuit can source to improve existing offerings or to create novel technology-enabled solutions, such as social software, mobile applications, data analysis, and Web 2.0 services relevant to our businesses.

  • Such clear goals make it easier for Intuit to be successful at the event and it also makes it much easier for potential partners to judge whether the Entrepreneur Day is something they should consider attending.

2. A filtering process

  • Besides the clear goals, Intuit also seeks quality rather than quantity and they have setup a filtering process to get this. Applicants need to fill out a form that is not too long and yet makes sense for both Intuit and the applying company. I also like this sentence taken from the website: “Although we’d like to meet everyone, we can’t.” Less is often more.

3. Intuit’s contribution is clearly communicated

  • Intuit does a pretty good job on explaining what the participating companies can expect from Intuit. It goes like this:
    • “The potential rewards for collaboration are considerable: access to our leading brands, our large customer base, our award winning product lines, our developer ecosystem and our extensive marketing and distribution channels.”

4. Strong commitment

  • Intuit shows a strong commitment having their senior people and even Scott Cook, their founder and Brad Smith, the CEO present. It is not only a strong signal to the external partners that Intuit is serious about this event. It is also a strong signal internally that Intuit really wants to build strong external relationships.

5. Commitment to quick follow-up

  • Intuit promises the participating companies a timely, candid and direct feedback on proposals and on next steps, if appropriate. You should not expect less as an external partner, but as we have seen in some of my recent blog posts this is not the case at other large companies.

I think Intuit has done very well so far. Hopefully, I can get my contacts at Intuit to share what they learn from their first entrepreneur day with us. It would also be nice to talk with some of the participating companies to check whether Intuit really follows up on their promises.

All in all, nice work by Intuit!


Stefan Lindegaard is a speaker, network facilitator and strategic advisor who focus on the topics of open innovation, intrapreneurship and how to identify and develop the people who drive innovation.

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