The life of a CA intrapreneur
The best of both worlds: Leading a startup from within an enterprise
An interview with Andrew Homeyer, manager of Software Engineering at CA Technologies. Andrew is an intrapreneur, leading a development team in the CA Accelerator program that focuses on creating solutions which utilize emerging technologies.
Can you describe your role at CA and what a typical day is like?
I’m an intrapreneur – a lot like an entrepreneur, but I’m building a disruptive business inside a corporation instead of as a startup. Just like an early-stage startup CEO, I wear a bunch of different hats depending on what we’re focused on. These days I work a lot with our early enterprise customers, interact with stakeholders across the wider company, and spend the rest of my time helping the team build the product. I’m still an engineer at heart, and can’t completely give up that role.
What can you tell us about what you and your team are currently working on?
We run Waffle.io, a smart and simple project management tool for engineer teams. We plan our work using lean startup techniques to focus on our riskiest assumptions, and iterate quickly towards building the right thing to solve the right problem for our customers. Lately we even started to focus on scaling the adoption of our enterprise offering beyond the pull from early adopters by experimenting with twitter ads, like this one:
— Waffle (@waffleio) April 4, 2016
What are the advantages of running startup teams for the sponsoring enterprise?
Similar to building a startup outside a company, building a startup inside a company is still very risky, and most corporate innovations will still fail. But enterprise lean startups are able to align earlier with the strategic vision of the broader company, making it easier to integrate if you can gain enough traction in the market.
We can also inspire a culture of innovation, where everyone in the company is given the opportunity to innovate and spin into a corporate startup to validate an idea. Often it’s perceived that you have to leave a big company to truly build something that will change the world, but what if that isn’t true?
While this is a new and growing role at CA, where do you see this role going in large enterprises in general?
Enterprises have to innovate, that’s nothing new. Just look at how the length of time companies spend on the Fortune 500 has shrunk in half in the last 50 years. Innovation is a top priority at CA Technologies, and my team has received terrific support as a result.
Looking into the future I think we’ll see corporations learning from each other to figure out what works best. How do we innovate quickly and reduce waste? There are dozens of examples over the last several decades on how companies have innovated, but there isn’t a single playbook you can follow. In a world where transparency is becoming popular I expect to see companies like CA share what’s working and what’s not, to help other industries advance faster too. It’s not just about improving our bottom line, it’s about helping everyone move faster to solve the world’s biggest problems, together.
What sparked your interest in the role of intrapreneur and what are your favorite aspects of it? Do you have an advice for others interested in becoming intrapreneurs?
Being an intrapreneur lets me work at what I’m passionate about – solving the right problem for the right customer. It’s been a journey and I’ve had my share of both change and failure; but when you get it right for the customer and for the market, it’s really worth it.
For more, check out Andrew’s video on what it’s like being an intrapreneur, and what advice he has for those considering it as a career.