Scaling Success: When Startups Grow Startups

Imaging having a startup that is doing so well, you now have the resources to create another startup within the company.

It’s called “intrapreneurship,” and big companies have been doing it for decades. Local corporate giants like Motorola and Sara Lee are known for their teams of ‘intrapreneurs’ ― groups of venture-minded employees tasked with turning an innovative idea into a finished product.

These days, successful startups are doing it, too. One such company is ÄKTA, a design studio founded in 2010 by John Roa. An entrepreneur since the age of 15, Roa spent his free time visiting the homes of people and charging them to fix their broken computers. A hard lesson of betrayal, by his then-schoolmate and business partner, made Roa more determined to succeed on his own terms.

About 18 months after starting ÄKTA, Roa began acting on the idea of incubating another startup within his company, and put together a team.

“Once we had the team, we needed a great product,” says Roa. “So it only made sense to put them inside ÄKTA’s environment where we are thinking about product and big ideas all day long.”

Roa says the new startup, called Social Crunch, disrupts the traditional method of ‘surveys and focus groups’ that advertisers have used for decades to collect information about consumers. How good is the idea? Social Crunch has been selected to join the inaugural class of TechStars Chicago. Roa explains how Social Crunch works. ❒

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