Agile Intrapreneurship at LabCovéa [Interview]

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by Nicolas Bry


Philippe Lebeaupin is Innovation Coach at Lab Covéa (insurance company), and one of the founders this incubator for entrepreneurs. In the interview below, he explains in details the origin of the Lab, and the way he coaches intrapreneurs’ projects, sharing some exciting business pivots along the way!

Q: Hi Philippe, would you explain us your position and role at LabCovéa? What are the purpose and activities of Covea Lab?

Philippe Lebeaupin: I’m an idea coach at Covea Lab. Covea lab is a tool for accelerating innovation on behalf of the MAAF / MMA / GMF Insurance Group. Customer-oriented, it provides a framework, tools and methods to validate the relevance and business model of innovative ideas.

For my part, I am one of the coaches responsible for accompanying employees in the selection process, which takes the form of a pitch in front of the internal investment committee, and then for the lucky ones to support them in the implementation of their project.

Q:  Tell us about one innovation project you mentioned, the ratings site about cars: how did the project start, was it an intrapreneur idea or an innovation idea from the Lab? What was the initial intent, and how did you pivot to the car ratings idea?

Philippe: This pilot project began with an idea put forward by Yann, an intrapreneur employee. The initial idea was to make a mobile insurance quotation in one picture.

The head of MAAF digital marketing, Emmanuel, sponsored this idea, and he helped us to prioritize our early adopters. Start with people who are already insured, and who happen to change vehicles. Actually it was a case made:

  • simple because we already knew the bonus, the traffic area … and it only remains to complete the identification of the new vehicle to finalize an estimate and;
  • with high stakes because the change of vehicle is an important moment to retain a customer.

So we conducted “problem” interviews with people who changed cars … and it turned out that when someone changes cars, insurance is only a micro-problem! We could have moved to other customers, for example, interviewing customers who changed their insurance… but since this life event was at high stakes, we kept the focus on customers who change cars, and we pivoted on the problem, and therefore on the solution !

Through these customer interviews, we identified other problems, including the need to feel confident on your next vehicle: a moment of reassurance! We were able to brainstorm, and propose a catalog of 24 solutions, which we submitted to customers who change cars.


This is how was born, a web site where you can consult the opinions and average rating of your next vehicle, being assured that the evauation comes from a true owner of the vehicle (on who is insured with our company).

Q: We often highlight the advantages of startups compared to large companies. In the previous project, what was made possible through the assets of the corporation (like accessing a large customer database)? Reversely, what did you have to adapt to come near to the startup operating mode (like turning IT work into more agile sprints)?

Philippe: My conviction is that the challenge for large companies is to take the best of both worlds: the striking force of the group, and the agility of the startup!

A large company has means, data, striking forces that do not have startups. If we know how to use them in an agil waye, we become an outstanding competitor:

  • certified ratingss for example are possible because our group has a database of several million insured vehicle owners;
  • recruiting and interviewing customers who cchange their car was achieved in 2 weeks thanks to the tools, and help of the marketing research department;
  • we also have easy access to coders who are already employees of the group.


The condition is then the cooperation between the different entities of the large company, to enrich the current services portfolio.

The LAB is a part of the Marketing and Strategic Transformation Department, and is co-chaired by the IT Director.

The first project was to associate the IT department to create and develop a website in a week: we agreed on how to “staff” a developer in less than 1 month. We enabled him with standard development kit, and a cloud platform access, letting him work independently to deploy his web site. The constraint here was to free yourelf from the legacy Insurance Information System, so as to to avoid integration / and security procedures with the current system.

Then we partnered with marketing, purchasing, legal, so that their procedures align with the agility of these Lab projects. The counterpart is that we put a framework: if the project were to be industrialized, the scenario should have to be reworked with the different entities.

Q: Could you describe in more details the intrapreneurs program you’ve set up? What kind of framework did you develop to support intrapreneurs (green box, business canvas, call for project, call for intrepreneurs, speed dating)? What are the results you’ve reached (number of projects completed, new business created, and impact on the rest of the company)?

Philippe: The lab makes it possible to assess employees’ innovation ideas throughout the year, but to stimulate the process we have put in place a call for innovation on connected objects: unfortunately, having one single idea owner coming with his idea lead to a lot of waste.

Since then, we test calls for volunteers: we build, after accurate speed dating, teams of 2 to 3 people with complementary profiles. They do not have specific innovation ideas, but we provide them with  a brief, and they will have to identify together customer problems, and corresponding tailored solutions.

We have thus created a methodology kit called “The greenbox” which is given to the intrapreneurs to help them challenge the problems of the customers, design the solutions as well as fulfill the Lean Canevas. We also worked on how to make the intrapreneurs very handy at pitching their project.

Today after 18 months of operation, we have more than 250 employees who have liaised with the lab. We have about 20 projects that have been presented to the investment committee, and 11 who have win a GO:

  • 2 have been stopped
  • 1 quick win is being generalized, and 1 service will be soon industrialized on the service platform
  • 7 innovations are in progress

The lab is increasingly well-known, and highly appreciated by collaborators throughout the company.


Still, our difficulties are:

  • The conditions  of the half-time of the employee who leaves for 8 months intrapreneurship  generrates problems of implementation with the operational managers: no replacement is easy …
  • Innovations are mainly incremental: we have too few innovation breakthrough projects with this intrapreneurship system.

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