Telenor Group announces results of Ignite intrapreneurship programme – five napkin idea become startups

Telenor Group today announced the results of its internal startup programme, Ignite Incubator. Following a three-month incubator bootcamp, five of the eight teams who submitted their “napkin ideas” will be taken forward as startups within Telenor.

Written: Dec 2016

Reading Time: 3 minutes

In April, Telenor Group President and CEO Sigve Brekke challenged the 36 000 global employees to come up with ideas for solutions or services that can impact the societies in which Telenor operates and that the company’s more than 211 million customers can use in their daily digital lives.

“The digital shift is about more than technology or computing power; it’s a cultural sea change. Our customers today and tomorrow want and expect much more from being connected, which means we need to work differently. We must experiment, learn and pivot as we go. That’s generally not the way big corporations work – but I’m convinced we have to. Ignite is a program designed to help us harness the entrepreneurial power of our own employees, and we’re really excited about the projects that come out of it. But maybe just as important, the program elevates teams and people who are able to combine the best of two worlds,” said Sigve Brekke, President and CEO of Telenor Group.

From more than 530 ideas, 30 were put through a pitching process in Bangkok in May. Eight teams were selected for the incubator programme, either at StartupLab in Oslo or Dtac’s Accelerate in Bangkok. During a three-month bootcamp period, the eight teams had to research, test and iterate on their ideas and prototypes, which were again pitched to a global jury at Telenor HQ and showcased to the company’s Executive Management.

Five ideas will now continue as startups within Telenor, either at Group level or within one of Telenor’s 13 international companies.

Two ideas will be developed as startups within Telenor Group:

  • Telco Open Data – Delivery platform for Mobility Analytics. Enabling customers to do analytics on a self-service basis (Telenor Group startup, will be based in Telenor Denmark)
  • Engage – a smart and digital tutor for supporting mass market agents selling complex products and services, through augmented pictures and video.  (Telenor Group startup, based in Bangladesh/Thailand)

Three ideas will be developed within Telenor’s companies in Sweden, Malaysia and Thailand:

  • Alfredz– Wireless intercom for apartments (Team will work at DigiX to develop for Malaysia)
  • Dealstogo – An online platform to help movie theatres fill their empty seats by offering customers amazing deals in real time (Team will work at Dtac to develop for Thailand)
  • Switch – a service to make it quick and hassle-free to switch phones and transfer content such as calendar, photos and contacts, between any type of mobile, regardless of type and OS (team will work at Telenor Sweden)

“Telenor is going through a big change from a traditional telco to becoming a digital service provider, which means we need people who really understand agile and lean methodologies and the importance of addressing customer needs. The Ignite teams can bring valuable practical experience to our global companies from their intensive three-month bootcamp and become ambassadors for our new ways of working,” says Lisa Long, VP Product Management for Telenor Group and Ignite mentor and jury member.

Long adds; “From the final pitches today, I’m impressed by their understanding of how user research and validation is the cornerstone of innovation based on customer needs – it’s not about asking what the customers want, but about understanding their lives and uncovering the latent needs they have. Throughout the process, this sometimes required pivoting to a new direction, and this kind of flexibility in assessing the validity of an idea before building a single thing is the way forward for ensuring Telenor gets the most from its innovation experiments.”

Due to its success, the Ignite Incubator programme will also be run in 2017 and Telenor employees are already applying for the next round.