As the world leader of the services to improve quality of life, Sodexo is facing new challenges in a highly competitive environment, with mounting regulatory pressure and new players entering the market. With the help of Bengs, Sodexo has experimented a totally new approach to quickly implement and scale disruptive innovations.
12 weeks to boldly rethink the new starting points for future growth
“What happens if we massively lose business due to a decreased length of hospital stay?” “Our longstanding offer is mainly connected to the hospital location rather than the patient location wherever he or she may be”. These were the strategic issues raised by the segment Santé Hôpitaux et Cliniques (Healthcare, Hospitals and Clinics) in France, who were the first in the Group to try this approach.
In the US, the US Senior segment are facing difficulties to extend their market shares in a very competitive market: “how to connect with final customers”? “how to offer innovative solutions to our existing clients?”
For 12 weeks, the collaborators of Sodexo virtually quit their company in order to create their fiercest competitor, right next door! The greatest advantage of this? They instantaneously free themselves from all the possible internal constraints of a large company. But then the challenge is to take the shoes of a startuper and create viable business opportunities in a record time and convince to raise funds from the executive board.
A whole new area of possibilities arises. And this is how thousands of problems to solve emerge, for which multidisciplinary teams seek any potential value buckets where there is no solution offered or at most an unsatisfactory one. All of these are interesting innovation opportunities to work on.
The most promising concepts of solutions are selected through a radical innovation design process for initial seed funding, followed by an experimentation phase to acquire the first clients and to demonstrate the market fit.
3 startups have been launched since 2018, with 2 more in progress
On the French market, two startups have already passed the experimentation phase by demonstrating a positive market fit.
One of them was very close from Sodexo’s core business and is now re-integrated within the portfolio of services offered to their customers. Maid4Me offers a new catering offer within hospitals, rethinking the whole traditional supply chain to make sure patients could have better meals to their room, at the time they want.
A more disruptive one, Docteur House, reaches out a new market, and offers a solution to support young doctors to set up their professional activity by providing services such as general administration, IT support, services to individuals, … This startup is hosted within Bengs’s startup studio in order to accelerate its growth in its development phase.
On the US market, Destinease is currently on its scale up phase. This start-up is a B2C online booking platform offering short vacations in Senior Independent Living communities. With this service Sodexo offer a solution for communities to generate incomes and disrupt the classical B2B service provider/client business model. At the heart of this concept, a virtuous business model with a new kind of customers reached and a new source of revenue for Sodexo over a market so far untapped.
A transforming managerial approach leading to a shift of mindset
Through this innovative experience, the collaborators are quickly immersed in a challenging start-up environment with its share of ups and downs. And what better way to get used to it than just first try to unlearn the ways of working of a large corporation?
This approach creates the conditions for agility and shorter decision cycles. The first step is to change and keep up a new mindset within the teams. The comments such as “it’s too late”, “they won’t support it”, or even “we don’t have the means” are banished!
The second step is to stimulate creativity thanks to external resources: meeting with startups and experts, insights on new technologies and their usage, etc..
Then comes the step to validate the concept created by the teams: all the assumptions are tested with consumers in order to make sure that the offer fits to the reality of the demand.
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