3 Inspiring Examples of Intrapreneurship in Action

While we're sure you're already familiar with the term “entrepreneur,” intrapreneur might be a new one for you.  According to executive Craig Rhinehart, an intrapreneur can be defined as “a person within a large organization who takes direct responsibility for turning an idea (or innovation) into a profitable finished offering through assertive risk-taking and effective stakeholder collaboration.”

So, what does intrapreneurship in action look like?  We've identified 3 inspiring examples:

  1. 3M

    At 3M, scientist Dr. Spencer Silver tried to create a strong adhesive to use with aerospace technology.  Instead, he accidentally created a light adhesive that didn't leave a residue.  Rather than scrapping it because it didn't meet his aerospace objectives, he spent years trying to formulate a use for it.  Ultimately, his persistence paid off when he teamed up with scientist Art Fry, and they used his creation to develop Post-It notes!

  2. W.L. Gore

    W.L. Gore (from Gore-Tex fabric) allows employees to use 10% of their work day to develop new ideas.  It was during that time that employee Dave Myers noted that a coating the company used for push-pull cables could also be used on guitar strings to make them more comfortable.  Ultimately, the company took a risk and launched the coated guitar strings under the brand name ELIXIR Strings.  The brand then went on to become the No. 1 selling acoustic guitar string.

  3. Gmail

    It seems like virtually everyone has Gmail today.  However, that might not be the case were it not for intrapreneur, Paul Buchheit.  As with 3M, Google allows employees 20% of their workday to devote to developing personal projects related to the business.  It was during this time that Buchheit developed the template for Gmail, which was unique among email providers because it offered additional storage capacity and was the only email option at the time to offer a search function.