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Allie Armitage of weBike: The Pros and Cons of Being an Intrapreneur

October 17, 2012

9:00 am

Allie Armitage will be a moderator at DCWEEK for The Intrapreneur’s Dilemma. She is an entrepreneur (cofounder and marketing director) at weBike, a bike sharing startup, and an intrapreneur at The Entrepreneur’s Organization. DCWEEK is a week-long festival co-produced by Tech Cocktail and iStrategyLabs. Get your tickets here.

Tech Cocktail: What does an intrapreneur mean to you?

Allie Armitage: An intrapraneur is someone who brings ideas to life within an existing structure. If organizations were houses – the intrapreneur would architect the rooms and beautiful exterior when the foundation is already in place.

Tech Cocktail: What are the advantages of intrapreneurship vs. entrepreneurship? 

Armitage: Intrapreneurship allows you to innovate while you have stability. You get to own individual ideas, efforts, projects without having to take on the stress of running the whole ship.

Since the foundation of your organization is already there, as an intrapreneur you are guided by what exists. You can lean on structure if you’re stuck in a hard place. You don’t have to shoulder the entire weight of creating and owning the house; and you can move on entirely if you want a change. There’s more freedom in your personal life as an intrapreneur.

Tech Cocktail: What are the disadvantages of intrapreneurship vs. entrepreneurship?

Armitage: The cons of intrapreneurship are essentially the other side of the same coin. As an intrapraneur, you don’t get control over the structure you work within. You don’t create guiding values of the organization, and you can’t make it fit to you, your strengths, your personality, your whole vision for how things should be done.

You also don’t get to experience the level of reward, satisfaction, or pleasure that comes with watching something you created from the ground up become successful. The entrepreneurial journey is one that brings a lot of lessons firsthand – without owning all the aspects of the process, you may not pick up the humbling lessons of failure or the understanding of how everything fits together. There’s far less stability as an entrepreneur, but the weight comes with creative control and ownership of the whole.

Tech Cocktail: What makes the DC startup scene unique? 

Armitage: In a town “run by government,” we in the DC startup scene are all unique simply because we are doing something else, and truly trying to make things happen. We’re small and we don’t have the “entrepreneurship spotlight” on us, so we’re closer and more supportive; we help each other be successful. That makes the experience of being an entre/intrapreneur in DC more intimate, nurturing, and overall exciting.

Tech Cocktail: What are you most looking forward to at DCWEEK? 

Armitage: I’m always inspired by the entrepreneurs around me. There is nothing more compelling than hearing how others took chances, failed, succeeded, learned a lesson, and tell a story. I’m looking forward to learning everything I can from the people involved with DCWEEK.

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Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact [email protected]

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