What most in tech call a hackathon, Shipt calls Innovation Days – a three-year-running employee exercise that fosters inspiration and sets our sights on Shipt’s future.
We’re always looking to enhance our services and the experiences of shoppers, customers, and retail partners here at Shipt. So, unlike other companies that limit creative brainstorming sessions to just engineers or product-focused teams, we open Innovation Days to all within the company who wish to put their next big idea on a company-wide stage.
“In the past, I participated in many university-level hackathons similar to Innovation Days. We formed teams and worked on our project’s prototype, but Innovation Days at Shipt is a unique experience,” said engineer, Apurva Patel. “There is a sense of collective ownership when presenting a pitch in front of your work peers to members of the leadership team. Through my experience, I continue to find myself learning, applying, and improving.”
Participating employees come together in teams (this year there were 20) centered on a common theme, problem to solve or uncovered opportunity. All ideas are welcome, no matter how big or small. Each idea must have a business case, too, whether it’s increasing customer value, solving a pain point or improving the functionality of an existing product. And in three days’ time (we do our best to clear meetings from calendars) teams plan, design, build and rehearse before presenting...to all of Shipt...in only five minutes. If the time limit isn’t followed? A blaring, duck-quacking timer sounds off to stop speakers in their tracks.
“What makes Innovation Days special is its inclusive nature,” said Marissa Dulaney, Senior Vice President of Product Design and User Research at Shipt and founder of Innovation Days. “We’re giving people from different career backgrounds and perspectives the ability to spark connections with others and find ways to make a powerful impact and contribute to Shipt’s success.”
But what if someone doesn’t know how to pitch? What if an employee doesn’t work on data analytics day-to-day? To break down barriers of participation, leaders host happy hours (this year they were virtual) in the months leading up to Innovation Days to share tips, educate on the basics and help employees learn new skills.
This year’s teams, with lively names like Ya Heard?, Shiptitude, Shipt Essential, Hello World and POP, really brought it. One focused on the impact of weather, another on member and shopper communication and one even made their own grocery shopping video game.
And the Zoom chat thread was chock full of employees cheering teams on and rallying behind each idea.
“Participating in Innovation Days has been one of the most rewarding experiences to date since I’ve been working with Shipt,” said Keaton Pickett, Associate Manager of Shopper Operations. “Working alongside incredibly talented individuals across product, design, data, and engineering departments to create a product that holds true to our values was so empowering and motivating.”
For Shipt, it’s not just about the pitch, but also about camaraderie and inclusiveness. The goal is to give people throughout the company an opportunity to step outside their day-to-day routines to create, engage and spark new ideas – even if it’s only for a few days. Ultimately, it’s a time for recharging and inspiration.
So, after deliberating for 15 minutes in a virtual breakout room, what did the panel of leader-level judges decide? The 2021 Shipt Innovation Days winner was team 8 Bit Shipt! They not only get bragging rights but also the opportunity for company leaders to take a deeper look into how Shipt might bring their idea to life. That means we can’t tell you yet why their pitch was so amazing.
In fact, stay tuned for more from us, because Shipt has two new features on the horizon that were born out of previous Innovation Days.