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Octopus wants to let go of its most ambitious employees

July 21, 2017

Octopus wants to let go of its most ambitious employees

“We’d be genuinely delighted if Octopus ended up as a training ground, or a springboard, for people to set up their own businesses,” said Simon Rogerson, CEO and Co-Founder of Octopus Investments. To this aim, Octopus has recently launched a programme to assist employees in developing their own entrepreneurial ideas. It’s called Octoden, and it’s designed to give employees the tools, advice and encouragement they need to create their own businesses.

“Fostering an entrepreneurial spirit generates creativity and drive to build new businesses and products within the Octopus Group,” explained Richard Wazacz, CEO of Octopus Labs. “It’s very much aligned with our mission to ‘find a brighter way’, and makes us a more attractive place for colleagues to work and personally grow.”

The idea of fostering internal entrepreneurship is not entirely new. Major corporations, such as Google, 3M and Apple, have given employees free reign to develop their own side projects. But Octopus is taking things a step further by designing an entire program to train and assist ‘intrepreneurs.’ So far, this has included variety of workshops on topics such as “How to pitch an idea”, “How to build a mobile app,” and “How to build a brand.”

Last week (July 11), Octoden held its first pitch day, with five individuals and one team presenting their new business ideas. It was an opportunity for these budding entrepreneurs to pitch to seasoned entrepreneurs and receive critical feedback and guidance.

“The ideas that came back from the panel were great and provided valuable new perspectives that we hadn’t considered,” said Ed Pitt Ford, an Advisor at Octopus Investments. He pitched to the panel a targeted investment platform that helps individuals substitute discretionary daily spending for small investments. “The enthusiasm and praise for what we had achieved — and might achieve — was really rewarding.”

“It was an amazing experience,” was Vladimir Negacevschi’s reaction, after pitching a powerful new search engine that sorts through internal company data. “I think Octoden is a great idea and it should be held at every big company. It encourages employees to follow their passion. Both parties benefit. For employees, it creates a tighter bond between them and Octopus. For the company, they gain a potential investment opportunity or a helpful product.”

Other individuals that pitched new business ideas were Cumhur Yalcin (Octopus Labs), who presented an extremely fast and secure system that helps software teams automate development and test environments; Rob Skinner (Octopus Investments), who pitched an easy-to-use website and app platform for retail investors to manage their share portfolio; Drew Barrett (Octopus Energy) who showcased an innovative, online furniture business that relies on automated and customizable manufacturing and design; and the team of Cameron Taylor, Dan McLean and Sam Reynolds (Octopus Investments), who put forward their idea for forming “Octopus Australia,” based on the UK’s tax efficient investment schemes that encourage investment in small companies.

Both Simon and Richard were impressed by the inaugural Octoden Pitch Day. “Without exception, they did a great job,” Simon said. “We’re working through the next steps from here, but we’ll be as helpful as possible to everyone. This might be something as simple as making introductions, so that they can see if their ideas have legs, or providing them with an unpaid sabbatical for a few months to see if they can make it work (safe in the knowledge that they can come back to a job if it doesn’t).”