We are a London-based innovation and talent development studio guided by a mission and set of values that are focussed on intrapreneurship as a driver of growth and resilience.
Recent studies highlighted how 1/3 of companies cut innovation budgets during the pandemic.
However, innovating remains imperative to thrive in a downturn market. Moreover, the biggest innovations were born out of post-crisis environments.
We believe that training the right talent to “do more with less” is the sustainable way to innovate by keeping costs under control.
Becoming efficient by making innovation part of the workforce’s business as usual appears to be the only way forward in these challenging times.
An intrapreneur is an employee who thinks and acts like an entrepreneur within an established business. They apply problem-solving, creativity, communication skills and critical thinking to deal with ambiguity and to become agents of change and growth for their employer.
We work with world-leading organisations to empower intrapreneurs to drive growth and resilience.
How did you come up with the idea for the company?
Studio Zao’s founders Jamie and Davide’s mutual frustrations around corporate innovation formed the building blocks of Studio Zao.
Jamie has years of hands-on experience as an internal entrepreneur. He was the Founder and Director of Ernst & Young’s (EY) Startup Accelerator and Head of Open Innovation Ecosystems, helping global corporations across energy, retail, media and telecoms with enterprise innovation strategy and programmes. He’s also got his hands dirty as the Managing Director of Startupbootcamp’s Fintech Accelerator in Dubai, investing in and incubating early-stage FinTech startups to scale across the Middle East, North Africa and Asia.
Davide’s wealth of experience in the world of entrepreneurship and innovation spans across two decades. After leading corporate innovation initiatives for FTSE 100 and multinational companies, Davide has worked as a Lean Entrepreneurship trainer and coach for the likes of Virgin Startup, Imperial College London, UCL, Mass Challenge and Wayra UK. He’s a serial entrepreneur, having founded four ventures with two exits under his belt.
Jamie and Davide were motivated by the age-old problem of embracing entrepreneurial risk in a corporate setting and wanted to address the conservative attitudes of large organisations and encourage iterative experimentation.
This means in practice:
Fostering a Culture of Innovation. Almost all businesses are brimming with untapped entrepreneurial talent. Studio Zao helps organisations harness that talent from within by empowering intrapreneurship and promoting a company-wide culture of innovation.
Helping Entrepreneurial Talent Find Their Voice. Why can’t intrapreneurs find their voice in large organisations? Studio Zao provides employees with the tools and know-how to communicate innovative ideas to senior executives with maximum impact.
Embracing a Lean and Experimentative Mindset. How can large corporations embrace the mindset and behaviours of experimentation to learn from their actions and adopt a Lean Startup methodology? Studio Zao helps intrapreneurs translate the business value of their innovations to executive decision-makers.
Empowering Intrapreneurs in Corporate Environments. Both Davide and Jamie were juggling side hustles alongside their main source of income to quench their entrepreneurial thirst. Why can’t corporate environments empower and support intrapreneurs to express their creativity at work, especially in a way that can be hugely impactful for the organisation and industry?
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What advice would you give to other aspiring entrepreneurs?
We have empowered more than 2,000 intrapreneurs so far across 11 industries. One common point we have seen across the world-leading organisations we have worked with so far is that innovating within large organisations through intrapreneurship is like tango: it takes two to succeed. Specifically, intrapreneurs and leaders succeed when they work together and use a set of common language and tools to innovate successfully.
We’ve never seen a successful intrapreneur swimming alone. Instead, they’ve been able to secure the support of a coalition and, crucially, of senior leaders, to progress their innovative ideas further. Similarly, successful innovation leaders put in place systems that empower and incentivise intrapreneurial behaviours and mindsets.
This is why we have recently launched an intrapreneurship guide which contains 6 practical lessons for leaders and intrapreneurs to innovate effectively within large organisations.
What can we hope to see from Studio Zao in the future?
INTRAPRENEURSHIP PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Intrapreneurship is going to be a key cornerstone for the future of work, and we are on a mission to make it a recognised professional path and codified set of skills.
For this reason, we are working to expand our current online course “Intrapreneurship Foundations” available in the UK through Pearson’s online platform, UK Learns. Anyone taking the online course gets a certificate of completion, which constitutes our first step towards a proper professional certification.
INTRAPRENEURSHIP FOR ALL
At the same time, having been there in first person, we know well that intrapreneurship is about doing, not learning the theory.
This is why anyone downloading the Intrapreneurship Guide from our website will start a simple, free and light-touch intrapreneurship program providing practical tips, tools and crucially a pathway to get started.
It will take you through 6 lessons about intrapreneurship, both for those leading innovation and doing innovation. Each lesson will have a practical task or challenge for you and this series of challenges will provoke and support you, along your innovation and intrapreneurial journey.
How it works is really simple.
Every 2 weeks, you’ll receive an email from us with one of the lessons and the challenge task to work on. The email will contain:
A short explainer video
The challenge task
Supporting templates to help you
You can look at it and do it at your own pace. You can even send us your questions or work if you want and we will get back to you with our feedback.
INTRAPRENEURSHIP AT WORK
The other side of doing and not just learning the theory is about empowering intrapreneurs — both those who do and those who lead — inside organisations, to create and launch impactful innovations to help their organisations grow.
We are continuing our work across different industry sectors, supporting large organisations with developing intrapreneurial talent, harnessing that talent for internal innovation, and continuing to help organisations align innovation with strategy.
In particular, we’re working with our clients on topics such as sustainability, new skills development, retail and wellbeing.