What is an 'Intrapreneur'

An intrapreneur is an inside entrepreneur, or an entrepreneur within a large firm, who uses entrepreneurial skills without incurring the risks associated with those activities. Intrapreneurs are usually employees within a company who are assigned to work on a special idea or project, and they are instructed to develop the project like an entrepreneur would. Intrapreneurs usually have the resources and capabilities of the firm at their disposal.

BREAKING DOWN 'Intrapreneur'

Intrapreneurs and entrepreneurs vary in their level of focus. Whereas an entrepreneur envisions a company from start to finish, an intrapreneur has a much broader vision for an established company. Because the intrapreneur works on solving bigger issues within the business, he typically has more directly applicable skills for given tasks and takes more risks within the context of his job.

Intrapreneurs and Innovation

Just as an entrepreneur starts a company as a means of providing a good or service, intrapreneurs seek policies, technologies and applications that will help increase a company’s productivity. As an intrapreneur builds the aptitude for recognizing and solving important problems, he also builds the skills required to start his own business.

Intrapreneurs and Experimentation

Similar to how entrepreneurs experiment, an intrapreneur possesses the freedom and autonomy for professional growth. An intrapreneur has the independence to analyze and understand trends necessary for planning the company’s future. Intrapreneurs synthesize their findings and determine methods for staying ahead of their competitors.

Intrapreneurs and Company Leaders

Intrapreneurs become a company’s executive leaders over time. They move the business forward and rise to the top as they understand the business from all levels. A company should recognize and promote successful intrapreneurs so the business can succeed and grow. When intrapreneurs work at solving problems, they foster the growth of other talented intrapreneurs and integrate processes for the greater good of the entire company.

Example of an Intrapreneur

In less than one year of working as eBay’s chief of staff of global product management, Healey Cypher realized the company was missing out on a large business opportunity. Although the majority of consumer purchases are made within 15 miles of a consumer’s home in physical stores, eBay was offering only e-commerce services for its clients. Because Cypher met many retailers, he knew they would want products for physical retail as well.

After consulting with eBay’s chief executive officer (CEO), Cypher assembled a team of engineers to find ways to use technology to enhance physical stores. The engineers created an interactive storefront that Toys R Us eventually installed. Over the following two years, the engineers did the same for TOMS, Sony and Rebecca Minkoff. Cypher’s success became a new division of eBay, giving workers autonomy for solving problems and moving the company forward.

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