Cultivate Labs Support Article

Cultivate Labs Support Articles

What Problem Does Internal Crowdfunding Solve and How Can I Start Using It?

Ninety-six percent of companies say innovation is a top 5 strategic priority, according Deloitte. It seems fairly obvious that this is the way towards growth and success in the future. However, McKinsey research reveals that there is a wide gap between the aspirations of executives to innovate and their ability to execute. With the relentless talk and need for innovation, why hasn't there been a good way to do it successfully within large companies? 

There's a significant problem that corporate crowdfunding helps to address that other so-called 'innovation' solutions have not.

Typical innovation processes still seem rather lackluster, despite efforts -- often not generating real results and sustained engagement. To spur new ideas, a company might try idea fairs, focus groups, 'Shark Tank' style sessions with leaders, offsite meetings at 'creative spaces,' or increased time for brainstorming (which we know doesn't work). Companies may go as far as setting up a completely separate innovation lab, staffing it with cross-functional expertise. 

Changing the Corporate Culture of Innovation

The fundamental problem with all of these approaches? None of these work to integrate innovation into core processes and behaviors across the entire system. Constant ideation, implementation, and feedback, needs to be engrained as part of corporate culture, not on an ad-hoc basis. 

Innovation is mostly still a top-level agenda item, where priorities are set by leaders, then trickle down to staff, so employees don't have an avenue to pitch their own ideas. Innovation is written in as a requirement of some leaders' job responsibilities with no clear performance metric or guidance around it. Sometimes, ideation is designated to a small group or department within a company, while leaving others out. When employees do get to pitch ideas up the ranks, the ideas go into a dark hole with no clear feedback or insight into resources for how to move it forward. 

To address these challenges, we designed Cultivate Ignite, our Kickstarter-style internal crowdfunding application. Ignite supports a culture of ongoing, lightweight experimentation at the front end of the innovation pipeline. Through internal (or "corporate") crowdfunding, we involve employees in the full spectrum of the process from "ideation to implementation." Employees submit ideas, and are given company house money, to fund the ideas that should become actual projects, with the company committing to providing resourcing for these fully funded projects. By using company money, your employees - who know the business best - are empowered to think like investors and select the ideas they deem most valuable. This gives the company a "signal" about how and in what areas to focus resources. Employees who submit ideas also know how their idea will be evaluated, which adds transparency and engagement in the process. 

Cultivate Ignite is innovative in itself, fostering an entrepreneurial culture that works similar to a venture capital model, with your employees being the inventors and seed investors. It can be executed across all areas of an organization in a consistent, streamlined way that results in "quick win" ideation, which over time, can become much larger in scope as projects prove their success, and eventually get more funding along their development. 

Where to Start and How to Use Cultivate Ignite

So, you're ready to try Cultivate Ignite. But, where do you start? With our self-service model, you can pay by credit card for a monthly subscription, so that you can easily start and stop "funding rounds" as needed. Some clients choose to run idea funding rounds quarterly, bi-annually, or annually -- this is really up to you based on the scope of the ideas you're collecting, and the amount of company budget you have at a given time to allot to the ideas. You can start by running a round with as little as 25 people, or up to 250 people, before you decide to "institutionalize" crowdfunding enterprise-wide.

Maybe this all sounds great so far, but you still aren't sure for what purpose to use Ignite. Whether you're ready to start big or small, here are a few use cases.

Got more questions? If you don't find what you're looking for on our Support Site, send us a note at