How to make the best out of your Innovation Challenge as a corporation: Key learnings from K Group Challenge

“And the winner is….8-bit-sheep!” 

 Congratulations to 8-bit-sheep!

Congratulations to 8-bit-sheep!

A week ago Friday we were at the final moment of truth. Our eight finalists had just delivered their final pitch, summarising a week of work into five minutes. Everybody was hoping they had done enough to convince the mighty Jury to pick them as a winner of a 30 000€ collaboration project for with K Group. 

The odds were good for each - after all, they had just spent a week with many K Group people asking a million questions and getting valuable feedback on what might bring most value to K Group and their customers. We all knew each of the eight concepts were rock solid both in business value and customer insight. 

Finally, the Jury returned from their hour long debate announcing that 8-bit-sheep had convinced the Jury and with their My Data concept and demo that had been validated over the week with many. Also Smart Spotter, Touché and Mishipay were mentioned as runner-ups that are interesting for K Group.

 Aku from ResQ delivering a 10+ pitch, which was followed by major applause from the audience!

Aku from ResQ delivering a 10+ pitch, which was followed by major applause from the audience!

 The Jury in the midst of discussions. Who should win?

The Jury in the midst of discussions. Who should win?

From our point-of-view, the challenge week was a complete success (read on to find out what were the success factors!).

It is always a bit of a nerve-wracking situation to walk into the first day of the challenge, meeting all the teams and learning if our vision of possible collaboration was founded. And then to watch as the collaboration proposals get better and better by the day..always a thrill!

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The teams at K Group’s Future Loyalty Challenge:

  • 8-bit-sheep (FIN) is a Digital and Data Strategy Boutique that helps with problems regarding the digital in general and data in particular.

  • Touché (SPG) is a universal mobile payment acceptance terminal which allows customers to pay wherever they are with traditional payment methods and also with their fingers, incorporating loyalty into the experience and giving the merchant customer buying behaviour analytics.

  • Zippie’s (HKG/FIN) Zippie OS is the first mobile operating system that lets you discover and use decentralized applications directly on any mobile device

  • Miils & Meallogger (FIN) joined forces to create a concept of AI-supoorted customer-tailored meals and shopping bags, supporting the customer in dietary needs and goals.

  • Mishipay (UK) allows anyone in the store to pick up an item, scan the barcode on their phone, pay on the phone and just walk out of the door with it.

  • Fjuul Vision (FIN/CHE) is much more than a fitness tracker - Fjuul helps you turn activity into currency, using smart algorithms that not only prevent misuse but also encourage you to increase the smallest daily activities to keep you healthy. 

  • Smart Spotter (NL) is the platform that enables retailers and suppliers to meet their agreements through crowdsourcing. “Spotters” photographs and reports items on display for a small fee by the supplier. 

  • ResQ Club (FIN) is a platform for restaurants and grocery stores to sell their surplus food, making saving the world  taste good!

We will for sure keep an eye on all of the teams who joined our challenge! We predict great things for each of them.

 Aku from ResQ: “The week has been very intensive, concrete with a clear track for collaboration possibilities. Other teams also agreed that this has been the equivalent of about 6-12 months of discussions with a typical customer!”

Aku from ResQ: “The week has been very intensive, concrete with a clear track for collaboration possibilities. Other teams also agreed that this has been the equivalent of about 6-12 months of discussions with a typical customer!”

 Arno from SmartSpotter: “Normally I have contact with my customer - the retailer - a couple times a year for an hour. Spending the whole week here was a luxury”

Arno from SmartSpotter: “Normally I have contact with my customer - the retailer - a couple times a year for an hour. Spending the whole week here was a luxury”

 Team Touché: “We do not usually attend programs - many of them are waste of time. This one was so clearly scoped and gave us a good entry point to the Nordics, so we got very interested. The week was very valuable for us!”

Team Touché: “We do not usually attend programs - many of them are waste of time. This one was so clearly scoped and gave us a good entry point to the Nordics, so we got very interested. The week was very valuable for us!”

 Miils & Meallogger joined forces during the week: “It was great to spend the whole week here. We got to have very deep discussions, helping us to get very close to the customer and their needs".”

Miils & Meallogger joined forces during the week: “It was great to spend the whole week here. We got to have very deep discussions, helping us to get very close to the customer and their needs".”

Key success factors to a great Innovation Challenge: Collaborate and commit. 

The week was very successful thanks to extremely talented teams but also a very good customer: The people over at K Group showed remarkable commitment and support throughout the week. 

Not only was the whole week well organised, we were a bit stunned by the “at your service” attitude we saw from all K-people joining us during the week. Each and every one working with the teams shared insight, researched for more necessary info and ran to help the minute someone needed a hand. 

 Fjuul & mentors hard at work.

Fjuul & mentors hard at work.

From the great example of K Group, we highlight these key learnings for all corporates looking to collaborate with startups and scaleups, including the scouting phase (e.g. innovation challenges, challenge days, demo days etc): 

  • Make sure you have a solid vision of why you are seeking for partners - what are your goals?

  • Communicate the vision of possible collaboration to the team clearly: give unique briefs to each teams

  • Spar with the team well ahead before the challenge week / day to help them prepare

  • Consider who would be your best experts in-house to support the teams during the week and commit then early on ( = book time slots from their calendar and brief them well!) 

  • Assign in-house “sponsors” to each team to make sure help is always available 

  • Approach the final task of the challenge as your joint collaboration pitch, not something the growth company is delivering to you

  • Give honest and constructive feedback before, during and after the week

  • What you give is what you get: The more you put effort as the customer, the more you get from the teams. This was clearly the case with K Group, too.

Our warmest thanks to all teams and the people we met, we applaud the motivation, commitment and raw talent you brought to the table regardless of the company name on your name tag. Kiitos.

 The Jury by K Group & friends (from left): Piia Maaranen (Avanto), Antti Rajala, Tuomas Sointu, Tuomas Manninen (OP), Miia Ropponen, Anni Ronkainen, JP Suonikko.

The Jury by K Group & friends (from left): Piia Maaranen (Avanto), Antti Rajala, Tuomas Sointu, Tuomas Manninen (OP), Miia Ropponen, Anni Ronkainen, JP Suonikko.