Open innovation is a frequently used term that promotes thinking outside the box, opening up innovation processes and involving various internal and external parties to achieve a common goal. More and more corporations explore its unique value that lies in ending secretly and silently working in silos by turning towards an open mindset and approach of innovation.
In theory, open innovation is a highly promising concept, nevertheless many organizations fail due to collaboration challenges, difficulties in communication, and its overall complexity. In this blog post, we’d like to shed light on an open innovation success story from the real business world. We show how a regional Austrian bank, Raiffeisenlandesbank Oberösterreich, managed to co-create an innovative solution for startup finance management despite all circumstances that are involved when engaging in open innovation.
How it all started: Touching base with the startup ecosystem Linz
RLB OÖ supports startups in their growth phase with various financial instruments, but they also benefit from the fresh wind, inspiring ideas and the modern technologies of young companies as driver for innovation:
RLB OÖ aims to learn the flexible and agile way of working like startups in order to apply these methods to their daily work. The cooperation with the innovation ecosystem startup300 facilitated the process of getting in touch with the startup world, especially FinTechs and Business Angels in the innovation hub of the Tabakfabrik in Linz.
After dipping into the startup world, the new innovation goal was quickly found: Developing an innovative payment solution for the startup300 ecosystem.
Discovering the problem by involving the end user from the very beginning
Full of enthusiasm for the new joint endeavour, the essential question asked was: Well, and how does developing an innovative payment solution work in such a dynamic environment? RLB OÖ started to activate their network, “asked around” about payment transactions at the Tabakfabrik and gained a deeper understanding of the daily problems of startups and business angels related to this topic.
Investors are facing difficulties keeping an overview of their investment portfolio, while startups are struggling to communicate relevant information regularly.
Initial customer feedback on this idea was gathered right away in the form of a first click dummy at the Tabakfabrik. Business angels such as Michael Altrichter and Marcus Ertler, as well as startups like clean energy and all about apps provided insightful feedback and valuable suggestions to further improve the solution.
During this process, RLB OÖ learned about the relevance of gathering feedback from the end user at every step of the way. The user knows best about its own needs, expectations and wishes. While testing the first prototype with users, many insights about underlying pain points and user behaviour was collected. RLB OÖ therefore always listened carefully throughout the product development process, and found out about the “need behind the need” of their future customers.
Overcoming important challenges along the way: Understanding the user need and defining the MVP scope
The biggest challenge in the co-creation process for RLB OÖ was to fully understand the user requirements for the finance manager solution and to therefore put themselves in the role of their customer groups. Since they are focusing on startups and investors, they had to design the solution in a way that caters both groups at the same time. Hence, creating a deep understanding of both customer groups was crucial during the co-creation process.
At the next stage, the difficulty was to define the scope of the MVP: Which functions are most important to start with in the first expansion stage? Which level of fidelity should the MVP already have? How many user testings should be done in order to validate the product assumptions?
The ongoing feedback on the prototype and its functionalities provided by startups and business angels through various networking events, a feedback day at the Tabakfabrik and similar formats were especially helpful to solve to tackle these challenges.
Involving their target customers from the beginning, enabled RLB OÖ to test their assumptions early on in a cost and time efficient manner while applying the lean startup approach to their specific innovation case.
For future co-creation projects, RLB OÖ learned that an open innovation process is a complex endeavour that requires sufficient resources, support and clear communication. The most important success factor is a motivated team that also receives support from top level management and has access to the required resources to implement the innovation project.
Proudly presenting the solution: Gibble – the startup finance manager
The result of this co-creation process is a startup finance manager called “Gibble”. Gibble is a financial data app serving as an interface between investors and startups. The innovative solution provides financiers a real-time view of the company and financial data of the startups in which they are invested. They are thus proactively informed about significant happenings and milestones. Gibble simultaneously simplifies financial reporting for startup needs and on top all parties can count on the trustworthy data of the bank.
Are you an investor who aims for a better overview of his investments?
Are you a startup that wants to impress investors with flawless financial reports?
If yes, or if not, and you’re just curious, then try out the app!
Register now at www.meingibble.at and use the app free of charge for one year (until December 31, 2021)!