A Truly Innovative Way To Help Future Marketers19 April, 2016 / Articles
One of the definitions of the word “innovation” is the act or process of introducing new ideas, devices or methods. Not all that long ago I penned a piece entitled “The Single Trait That Can Build (Or Kill) Your Brand” with the single trait being ingenuity — and the need to foster and encourage it at all cost.
Brands and businesses of all sizes and shapes absolutely and unequivocally must do whatever they can to establish an environment where ingenuity and innovation are front and center. From large brand CMOs such as Julie Lyle, current Chairman of the Board for the Global Retail Marketing Association and former CMO of hhgregg, Prudential Corporation Asia and Walmart who calls this “more important than ever” — to entrepreneurs like Aaron Krause, CEO of Scrub Daddy, the best-selling product in Shark Tank history who believes “ingenuity in business is the spark that lights the creative fire.”
A Slam Dunk
Sometime today the Philadelphia 76ers and Kimball Office will launch plans for what is being called the “Sixers Innovation Lab Crafted By Kimball” with the goal being to cultivate an entrepreneurial spirit and foster innovation while connecting and energizing the business communities in the local region.
The innovation lab will focus on attracting companies in the sports and consumer product space and will be open to talented and driven entrepreneurs across the world, presenting startups with unique access and opportunity to succeed in the industry.
Selected companies will receive office space in the innovation lab furnished by Kimball Office as well as access to industry experts, executives and financiers, and a lot more including business solutions services; plus the opportunity to pitch industry-leading investors and venture capital firms.
If that weren’t enough, each of the selected companies will receive sponsorships from the Philadelphia 76ers to assist with growing their business’ marketing and customer base.
As to why a professional basketball team would get involved in such a venture, 76ers CEO Scott O’Neil says it’s nothing out of the ordinary.
“This is in our DNA and one of the core values of the Sixers organization,” he said. ”Fortunately we sit in a region that, quite literally, was born on and driven by the idea of innovation and entrepreneurship. We like to do things differently, challenge convention and look for creative ways to push the limits of what is, and explore the possibilities of what could be.”
He added that this endeavor stretches way past the local Philadelphia region. “In launching the Sixers Innovation Lab Crafted by Kimball we’re cementing our commitment to bring innovation to the sports, media, technology, entertainment and the consumer space and supporting transformative change in our market and beyond.”
For their part Kimball Office is all about disrupting the norm. “We told the Sixers that if they were willing to think differently, we were looking for an opportunity to build a ‘sandbox’ to test new ideas, gain rapid feedback and iterate new workplace concepts,” says Mike Wagner, president of Kimball Office.
Being this is a professional basketball team, who fully understand the need for teamwork, you would assume they have assembled a top-notch team to work with.
You would be correct.
In addition to partnering with Kimball, they have amassed a group who will serve as innovation lab advisors including Nextstage Capital, Dreamit Ventures, Techstars and The Wharton School Of The University Of Pennsylvania.
Sherryl Kuhlman, Managing Director of the Wharton Social Impact Initiative says the innovation lab will provide the participants with network, connections and inspiration.”We hope to work with the participants and other entrepreneurs to help them understand how an awareness of social impact opportunities can be a driver for business innovation and brand differentiation. We think of it as ‘business strategies for a better world!’”
O’Neil, who says he doesn’t see this see this as a good initiative in the sports industry, but rather as just good business — believes this all about shifting the paradigm, about being thought leaders, and about fostering the entrepreneurial spirit.
“We want to inspire the entrepreneurial spirit in this city (and the world), we want to be the flag bearers leading the way for genuine business mentorship. When best-in-class companies are lining up to join you, you know you’re on the brink of something extraordinary. We want to be part of that next great idea that will shake the media and sports industry, transform the consumer experience, and change the world.”
O’Neil hopes that other companies will emulate this same model and says the Sixers would be incredibly supportive in sharing our learnings if other teams and brands chose to emulate this model. “As more brands choose to mobilize their partners and resources, open their doors, provide a platform and invest in the strong entrepreneurial leaders of tomorrow, it bodes well for the future for all of us.”
Being a lifelong Philadelphian I for one am incredibly proud that this area will be home to this “petri dish” of budding entrepreneurs and future marketing leaders. As Randall Rozin, Global Director, Brand Management and Digital Marketing at Dow Corning says, “Ingenuity in business is vital, but only as much as it is backed up by persistent action and ongoing revitalization.”
Clearly this is all a step in that direction.
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