Interview: Lisa Besserman, Head of Program at Indeed’s Global Incubator

Corporate Incubator of the week.

Corporate incubators are enabling businesses all over the world to fuel growth, foster an entrepreneurial mindset and create new revenue streams. They’re also a highly efficient way for established enterprises to leverage their considerable assets and gain a competitive edge against disruptive new entrants to the market.

There’s no “one-size-fits-all” way to reap the benefits of this technique, and incubators vary as much as the businesses that build them. Just look at examples like L’Oréal’s Technology Incubator, Lufthansa’s Innovation Hub and Walmart’s Store Nº8, each boosting innovation in its own unique way, with its own growth goals.

Indeed’s Global Incubator is another inspiring example of how an incubator can help its parent company carry out its mission, strengthen its core values and innovate from the inside out.
We recently had the chance to chat with Lisa Besserman, Head of Program at Global Incubator, to learn more about the unique strategy that made Indeed the largest job platform in the world.

The biggest job platform in the world.

With over 250 million users per month and ten new job listings added per second, Indeed is currently the largest job platform in the world. Founded in 2004 with the simple mission to “help people find jobs”, they’ve beat out formidable competitors like LinkedIn, Monster and Glassdoor, just to name a few. This is no small feat in such a saturated market. 

Part of the success can no doubt be attributed to the company’s five core values:

  • Put the job seeker first - Job seekers are always a top priority.
  • Pay for performance - They only charge when their service delivers real value.
  • Data-Driven - They measure everything so they can make improvements. 
  • Innovation - They’re future-focused, always finding new ways to stay ahead of the curve.
  • Inclusion and belonging - They committed to a culture of diversity and accessibility. 

Being the future-focused company that they are, the leaders at Indeed are aware of the importance of constant innovation to dominate the industry and retain that top position.

Innovating from the inside out.

Incubators differ from company to company, each with its own mission, growth goals and set-ups. Indeed’s Global Incubator focuses on building MVP’s that can become new products (not new features) with a “nail it and scale it” mentality.

At Global Incubator, the focus is to improve Indeed’s offering in all areas continuously, so their ventures remain mostly in the HR tech space.

Drivers for success. 

Corporate bureaucracy can make it challenging to get new and disruptive ideas off the ground. Having to report back on every activity and wait for multiple green lights before taking action delays the innovative process and hinders even the most creative and talented intrapreneurs.

Part of what drives success at Indeed’s Global Incubator is that the team has the freedom they need to test and build new concepts. 

There are various ways to measure an incubator’s success, and the KPI’s vary from company to company. The activities at Global Incubator focus on taking Indeed’s strategic, financial, and operational achievements to new heights, and they measure their success in different ways.

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Finding the right talent. 

Incubators often strive to bring the speed, creativity and entrepreneurial mindset of a startup to their parent companies. However, in most cases, these qualities are born from the need to survive and keep the business afloat. Recreating that environment within “safe” corporate walls can often pose a challenge.

Within an incubator setting, team members are often required to wear “different hats” and be skilled at a wide range of tasks, this is not to say that there is an absence of specialisations. Teams are often multidisciplinary and include profiles that are adept at marketing, UX design, legal and product development.

Global Incubator has about 100 employees across their three international locations in Austin, Seattle and Tokyo. They often work with external groups to supplement their knowledge base where needed. 

A new era of corporate incubation.

Through the years, enterprises have adapted the corporate incubation model to suit different industries, business models and growth targets. As a result, we’ve entered a new era where corporate incubators have more resources and autonomy than ever to explore, build and scale.

Hybrid models that combine the strengths of both in-house and external incubators (e.g. C-Lab Inside and C-Lab Outside) have become more common. This is because most innovation leaders see the benefit of investing in disruptive ideas that stem from external sources as well as internal ones.

The lessons learned.

During our interview, we had the opportunity to ask Lisa about some of the most important lessons she learned during her time as Head of Program at Global Incubator. She was kind enough to share some valuable tips with us:

Alignment with corporate leadership is crucial.

Corporate leaders and stakeholders play a huge role in determining the incubator’s greater mission, its growth goals, and they serve as key advisors and influencers. Their involvement and support are critical to the success of your incubator. 

Use the talent that’s available to you.

Collaborate with different areas in the company to create a multidisciplinary approach to your projects. 

Democratise your key learnings for real impact. 

Make a conscious effort to share your learnings through events like Lisa’s Learning Initiative. An event created to share Global Incubator’s knowledge throughout the company.

Watch the full interview here:

Final thoughts.

We’d like to thank Lisa for taking the time to speak with us and wish her the best in her new position as Managing Director of Expa VC. We can’t wait to see where this new opportunity will take her and hope to speak with her again to discuss this exciting new phase in her career! 

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Would you like to explore corporate incubation as part of your innovation strategy? We can help your company create a venture strategy, tailored to your growth goals. 

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