April 17, 2010
In this episode of Beyond the Pedway, I’m chatting with Zach Kaplan, founder and CEO of Inventables , a Chicago based online marketplace that connects buyers and sellers of materials and technologies.
Zach and I chatted about how Inventables connects buyers and sellers of materials. We also discussed how it’s important to hire the right people for your company and the significance of inspiring creativity in your employees.
Here are some highlights from our chat:
- Inventables is an online marketplace for buyers and sellers of materials to connect
- Companies that are making new consumer products use Inventables to find new materials they might be able to use in their products. Companies that sell these materials use the site to discover new sales leads.
- The motto “Sales Leads Worth Your Time” drives everything Inventables does. The idea is for the site to get smarter as more and more people use it. Over time, the site figures out what is worth the time of the buyers and vendors.
- Every employee at Inventables is given an exploration budget. Half of the budget is given to the employee for them to go explore and buy anything they want with no questions asked. The other half of the monthly budget goes to the team exploration where every month, a new employee chooses what the company gets to go explore together.
- In the past, Inventables employees have used the exploration budget to go kayaking on the Chicago river, taken a tour of the cooking school at Kendall College, built a workout facility in the Inventables office (complete with a treadmill desk) and learned folk music.
- Zach believes that if you get locked into the same activities every day, you forget that there are other activities out there. By having these other experiences, it makes it easier to pull in new ideas as you’re innovating.
- Inventables uses agile software development and has “Free Point Fridays”, where developers get to work on whatever they think is most important.
- Inventables is very specific and thorough in their hiring process to ensure they get the right people. There’s a lot of trust and responsibility given to each employee, and Zach is confident they’ll come up with great solutions because they’re the right kind of person.
Editor’s Note: This video episode was created by Tim Jahn, a longtime Chicago TECH cocktailer and storyteller who produces the online video series, Beyond The Pedway focused on better telling the local business stories in Chicago. You can follow Tim on Twitter: @timjahn.
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