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Agile Giants: Lessons from Corporate Innovators

Mar 18, 2019

On this week’s episode of Agile Giants, I’m joined by Gustavo Lopez a general manager at MS The Safety Company. MSA is over 100-years old. They historically have sold safety devices, things like portable gas detectors. 

Over the last few years, those devices have started throwing off more and more data about the detection that they’re doing. Two years ago made a decision to launch a new startup within the company called Safety IO. Their corporate startup does big data analytics from the data that those devices are throwing off. 

I should say for full disclosure, January through May of 2018, a team of my graduate students in my Corporate Startup Lab project course actually worked with MSA to refine the ideas for Safety IO. And at the end of that course, when an MSA decided to push forward, I joined their advisory board. Also, Laurie Barkman (on last week’s episode) is also on their advisory board.

While I admittedly am slightly conflicted, I do think this is an amazing story and it’s a perfect illustration of how large established companies are able to leverage their brand and customer relationships to build a new startup inside an existing company. It really would have been challenging for two entrepreneurs inside a startup accelerator to do what Safety IO has done, yet MSA has had a ton of success with it and I’m really excited to be part of it. So even with the conflict, it just felt like a perfect episode to add into our conversation about how large companies can do transformative innovation. I hope you enjoyed this week’s conversation.

Episode Links:


CMU Corporate Startup Lab Project Course: