Ideawake Gives Employees a Voice

Nov. 23, 2016
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As a company grows to employ hundreds, and even thousands of people, it becomes continually harder for frontline employees’ ideas to reach management. This disconnect can become frustrating and lead to employees becoming disengaged which, in some companies, affects 50% of employees and can cost $2,200 per disengaged employee per year according to a study conducted by ADP.

Ideawake, an enterprise software company founded in 2013 under the name Inventalator by Milwaukeean Coby Skonord, hopes to reengage employees through a fun, easy to use idea-management platform. 

“I believe that some of the best ideas for improving efficiency and growth come from the employees executing strategy on a daily basis,” Skonord says. “The problem is that collecting, evaluating and taking action on all that feedback is tough, and that’s where Ideawake comes in.” 

The program displays an engaging, game-like interface for employees to contribute ideas to the companies they work for. A manager using Ideawake will post a topic they want ideas on, give a start and end date of the “challenge period,” pick the best ideas, and can award prizes to the participants who submitted those ideas.

Ideawake finished a round of pilot testing in September, and is now in talks with several local, regional and national companies. While Ideawake is quickly growing, and has raised over $750,000 from investors since it’s launch, it has not always been such a slam-dunk to investors. Skonord recounts the story of having to meet with an investor eight times before he finally agreed to put any money into the company. This resolve and ability to not take no for an answer is essential for any entrepreneur in Skonord’s mind.

Along with running Ideawake, Skonord mentors other area entrepreneurs, and his company hosted an event during the inaugural Milwaukee Startup Week called Startup Co-Lab.  To Skonord, mentorship amongst entrepreneurs is essential because of the many pitfalls and mistakes that can be made. He talks about the mentors he’s had in his career, and how they’ve kept him from many mistakes, though he assures me he’s made plenty along the way himself. 

Though there are many skeptics of Milwaukee’s entrepreneurship credentials, citing low Kauffman Index rankings and a lack of local funding options, Skonord has an optimistic view of Milwaukee’s startup community. He cites a number of successful companies springing up all over the city, but concedes that there needs to be a stronger effort to connect entrepreneurs with one another. 

He sees Milwaukee eventually becoming a hub for startups, though it will take some time, and thinks that the inaugural Milwaukee Startup Week, which ran from Nov. 1-6, is a great start to giving Milwaukee entrepreneurs a unifying voice.

Though he may not admit it, Skonord and his team at Ideawake are becoming leaders in the local startup scene, if for no other reason than the winning example they set for others. When asked about this role in the community, he showcased his humble personality saying, “I believe in leadership by how you can impact others, and if you measure it that way, we’re doing okay.”


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