How to stay innovative as a company

Detecting, promoting and utilizing the employee’s potential 

What once started as an innovative Swisscom in-house program, has meanwhile become a successful support program open to all enterprises interested in fostering both their employees and their prospective business ideas 

The KICKBOX program is meant to raise intrapreneurial awareness among all employees. Not only is it a unique possibility to create and develop new internal products or even branches, but also spin-offs and joint projects with partner companies. And all this comes – in the truest sense of the word – «out of the box». The common assumption by cliché is: big and midsize companies are often stolid, not very innovative, and stuck in routine, while tiny start-ups and small businesses are far more creative, dynamic, and inventive. Well, this may often be the case. But in terms of Swisscomthe reverse is true. The company is dynamic and strongly aware of the employee’s potential. This is where the KICKBOX program kicks in and tries to «tap» this abounding aptitude.  


Each and every employee with a compelling, brilliant, and exciting idea, can apply for the so called KICKBOX program and get thus the unique chance of developing this initial idea to a concrete project or even a prosperous business. The aim of this innovation program is to foster the employees’ internal intrapreneurial awareness. Swisscom has already generated various projects with this idea competition, all of them have the potential to become new products or even entirely new business branches and spin-offs.  


Intrapreneurs with spirit of enterprise  

The original idea of an in-house innovation box came from the North American software company Adobe. «We adapted their idea and adjusted it according to our needs,» states David Hengartner, co-founder and CEO of rready. In the Swisscom KICKBOX, there were only about ten percent of the initial Adobe box left, Hengartner declares. The KICKBOX program allows a certain degree of free room for the employees which does indeed cost both time and money – but it’s absolutely worth it. «If these ideas end up as profitable business areas, all resources are well dispensed.»




After a successful pilot phase, the intrapreneurship program continues. On the one hand, there are numerous new applicants for the RedBoxthe first phase of the three-staged program and on the other hand, the first GoldBox-projects are well on the way to generate new products and sales channels. Also, the company constantly tests new concepts: Swisscom employees have the possibility to make an investment in projects they believe in.  


Additional Value for Employees & Customers

In addition to spare working time and a start-up credit of CHF 1.000, KICKBOX winners do also get valuable support from both internal and external specialists and are able to gain therefore a lot of experience. These innovation processes can also be beneficial for external firms. With a so called cross-company approach, all involved companies can become experts, coaches, and partners for future projects or for a resulting spin-off. 


Open Program

The Swisscom KICKBOX program is no longer an in-house support program. They did themselves what they support others in: become independent with innovative ideas. Meanwhile, the KICKBOX program is offered by the company rready. This program can be bought and implemented from enterprises all over the world. «It’s kind of Innovation as a Service,» says David Hengartner. Collaborations with different universities are also implemented – for example a course for students of ETH and HSG and the ETH course Lean Start up Academy. 


This successful innovation program shows that also big companies are flexible and encourage their employees to think innovatively and in an entrepreneurial way and to develop suitable processes. «With KICKBOX, we globally promote the internal entrepreneurial spirit and are able to strengthen the culture of innovation according to the motto: try fast, fail fast, learn fast,» summarizes David Hengartner. By using the right methods, also big enterprises can inspire their employees and awaken their start-up spirit. Like that, many new ideas will get the chance to arise, grow, and succeed.