Decathlon India initiated Innovation Lab to foster scalable innovation. They curated challenges from the stores and various departments and engaged startups to tackle the challenges together. The co-built solutions are piloted in a store in Bangalore and it is possible to scale across India and the globe.
Birth of Innovation Lab
The idea was brought about by the Country Leader Steve DYKES with his vision to explore existing solutions in the market. The Innovation Lab enables co-building solutions with external partners, so as to accelerate transformation and reduce the risk of investing time and resources of the internal teams. The maturity of the startup ecosystem in India creates a favourable environment to establish the Lab. Many startup founders have long years of experience and success in other corporations and their startups are well staged.
Supriya MAMGAIN is the leader of Innovation Lab, and she also founded a startup which provided booking service for sports facilities. With her extensive network with the sports partners and experience in the field, the Lab acts as a bridge between Decathlon India and the startups.
Process of Co-Creation
Innovation Lab collaborated with an innovation partner Numa (Now rebranded as LINK) and co-organised a Design Thinking workshop with 60 Decathlonians across various departments. At the end, 6 challenge statements of Decathlon India were concluded and they became the core of the Lab.
A website was then created with the challenge statements, which allowed startups to apply to the scheme by submitting their proposals online. Since the Lab was launched last year, the team has received over 200 applications. Supriya works with 20 other team members in a “team of teams approach” to review the applications and meet the potential startups.
Once the startup is shortlisted, they will be connected with the business units in Decathlon and start to co-create the proof of concept to be tested in the store.
With the advanced process of the project, two tests have been implemented in the store. One is focusing on bike repairing, upcycling and reselling, and the other one aims at preventing theft and generating store analytics with the help of cameras. At last, the pilot test results will be presented to the Indian Investment Committee to decide whether to scale the solution.
New modes of work
The Innovation Lab creates a cost-effective and agile working mode. Having shared a strong innovative spirit with the startups, they meet on common ground to co-create the proof of concepts at zero cost. Moreover, the early and growing companies are more enthusiastic to build the solutions concerning the specific challenges faced by Decathlon. The pilot test is an experimental process that provides time for mutual understanding and alignment of the values. Since the development of pilot tests are at low costs, if the objective is not attained within the experimental period, the team will react quickly to drop the solution and move on to find other solutions.
Decathlonians in India feel excited and involved working with the startups, and they appreciate having alternative solutions to supplement the internal solutions. The Lab has also reinforced the internal cooperation between different business units because they join hands to find the common challenges. In conclusion, teammates are very cooperative and they are looking for a helping hand from the Innovation Lab.
Towards an inclusive company
Supriya thinks the idea from Steve has shaped the entire mindset of all the teammates in Decathlon India. They are now more open to external partners and new solutions. Furthermore, the Innovation Lab adds value to Decathlon United as a whole because it is becoming a replicable solution for other countries.
In the first year, the main objective of the Lab is to co-create solutions. In the second and third year, they are planning to incubate startups by providing workspace and grants and investing in promising companies to build the future of Decathlon together. It is believed that the inclusivity will be strengthened by sharing more information and helping the future generation to develop and deploy creativity.
“The Innovation Lab is definitely promoting inclusivity because we are including everyone. Some college students also wrote to us and wanted to apply to the Lab and we said WHY NOT? It is also for the regenerative economy and the future of capitalism. We are rebooting and planting new seeds, new ideas and new solutions.”
– Supriya MAMGAIN