To best serve our clients, we’ve focused on attracting talent—software engineers, designers, hardware developers, project managers, marketers, etc.—that is relentlessly dedicated to working on difficult, real-world problems day-in and day-out.
Developing this inner circle of talent has a residual effect—internal idea generation that wouldn’t have an outlet for innovative expression in most service companies.
What Is the Dialexa Labs Model?
As a services company, our main focus is always our clients. The Dialexa Labs Model has evolved into a hierarchy designed to balance our responsibility to customers with our desire to push innovation out into the world. The hierarchy consists of four tiers:
- Dialexa Labs (Proper): This is the highest level of the hierarchy—the point at which a product or service is going to be released to market or a business will be spun out on its own. When we first started Dialexa Labs our vision was to go beyond turning our ideas into products, but instead take these products and turn them into companies. This approach to pushing innovation out into the world has evolved with the implementation of the following other three levels of the Dialexa Labs model.
- Bespoke Innovation: At this level of the Dialexa Labs Model, we do the design research, design thinking, and we design for business outcomes up front before handing off the idea. Bespoke Innovation allows us to create innovation in the world by delivering “innovation in a box” to a vertical industry partner. Think of this more as a proof of concept initiative.
- Internal Development: There are times when we build tools for our own benefit as we work on client projects. For example, we have a dashboard for project management that integrates with JIRA to give us a high-level view of our agile projects. We’re currently working on packaging some of these internal projects so we can launch them publically.
- Dialexa Innovate: This is our own personal take on Google’s original “20% time” model. On Friday afternoons, our employees can work on their passion projects between 1pm and 5pm (if they’ve completed their normal work). These passion projects can fuel the Bespoke Innovation and Dialexa Labs levels as teams come together and make progress on what begins as a high-level view of a market problem and an employee’s take on a solution. By the end of this quarter, we’ll have finished projects in virtual reality, project management, and personal finance. If you want a better idea of the kinds of projects the Dialexa Innovate program products, watch this video.
A Closer Look at the Dialexa Labs Process
At first glance, it might seem like the Dialexa Labs Model is another start-up incubator. However, we’ve put some rules and processes in place to distance the program from this label.
First, the Dialexa Labs Model is available only to employees—we do not take external startup applications. This makes the model more manageable and allows us to focus on talent and ideas that we know.
Once these requirements have been met, we have a two-part approval process for Dialexa Innovates ideas. Employees start by introducing an idea to their internal team, gaining interest from people to form a team for a Dialexa Innovates project. The team then completes a high-level overview of the project—a team roster, problem being solved, length of project, depth of research expected, etc.
After this high-level overview is approved, teams get to work on a deep VC-style pitch deck and we hold our own Shark Tank-esque, 45-minute pitch to determine if an idea should move forward.
This may seem like an intricate process, but it is what’s enabled us to become a service company that can deliver outcomes for clients while also pushing innovation out to the world on our own—and the process has proven to work.
Two Success Stories for the Dialexa Labs Model
While the Dialexa Labs Model is growing quickly in our company, there are two hallmark examples that have proven this model can work:
- Vinli: This Dialexa Labs company has been labeled the world’s largest connected car app ecosytem. Vinli is the leading cloud platform for bringing smart car functionality to any car on any lot, in any fleet, or in any shop. Vinli provides a platform where you can track automotive metrics based on both the car and its context. Giving developers from companies like Meineke and Cox Automotive access to APIs and SDKs that leverage the connected car platform is enabling a new wave of automotive IoT.
- Robin: Dialexa employees levereaged aggregation of a fragmented market much like Uber and created a service that disrupted the $70 billion dollar lawn care industry. You can go to the website, put in your address, get a quote for your lawn care, add a credit card, and you can enjoy service within days. Aside from lawn mowing, you can add services such as fertilizing, weeding, tree trimming, and more. Explosive 50% month-over-month growth in Dallas, Houston, Austin, and other cities in the southeast is allowing us to expand to even more markets in the coming year.
Spinning these two ideas out into their own businesses and seeing their success proves that investing in your talent can lead to long-term business growth. Unfortunately, there are so many companies that haven’t adopted this innovation center mindset.
Bringing Dialexa Labs to our Clients
The Dialexa Labs Model isn’t something we want to keep a secret. We want companies to adopt this innovation center model and start pushing innovation out into the world more effectively - we call this Dialexa Client Labs.
The most successful ventures in history gained their position through the simultaneous creation of a great team, a great product, and a new category. Dialexa Client Labs focuses on uncovering and bring together all three of these elements.
We create a dedicated team that will utilize the breadth of Dialexa’s experience and expertise towards helping our clients create business impact through innovative technology.
If you liked this article, listen to Dialexa Co-founder and Chairman, and Vinli CEO Mark Haidar, on Custom Made who shares the chapters to date of the connected car platform, Vinli:
Listen to all episodes of Custom Made for insights and perspectives from industry disruptors and technology leaders.
If you want to learn more about implementing the Dialexa Labs Model, download our free ebook, How to Set Up Your Own Innovation Practice.