MDN: The Case for Ground Floor Innovation

MDN: The Case for Ground Floor Innovation

ServiceMaster wanted to open an innovation center partly for “self-serving” reasons, the company’s chief information officer said during a panel discussion Thursday, June 15, that marked the inaugural event in ServiceMaster’s new innovation space the “Ground Floor.”

The company, CIO Jamie Smith said, had actually looked at launching such a space even before the company knew it would be bringing its corporate headquarters Downtown.

Ground Floor will serve as a startup accelerator, co-working space and small events center.

“We know we need to innovate, as ServiceMaster, to really stay relevant – we don’t want to be captive to the Innovator’s Dilemma,” he said. “But, also, we knew there was someone somewhere up at night with that next great idea, and we wanted to facilitate that coming into the world.

“From that kind of seed is where the idea for the Ground Floor started.”

That means, Smith continued, the space isn’t just going to be for ServiceMaster’s internal use. He said the plan is for functions on behalf of outside groups to also take place there – things like hackathons and coding bootcamps. He said the company also got inspired, as it began thinking about the new space, by looking around the country at other corporate innovation centers.

During ServiceMaster’s panel discussion, Jackson Giles, co-founder and managing partner of Austin, Texas-based startup SoftMatch, added some of his own perspective about why the opening of ServiceMaster’s Ground Floor is significant.

It also has to do with proximity.

The company, Giles said, is also “placing bets with entrepreneurs in this local community by inviting them into these doors and helping them bump into each other and collaborate and collide.

“And then (Smith and ServiceMaster) are investing in entrepreneurs in other markets. And that’s really what it takes to drive innovation in this kind of business.”

MDN: The Case for Ground Floor Innovation


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