You face a group of potential investors. You have an idea, it’s the best of its kind, but it won’t go anywhere if you don’t get funding. Its fate all comes down to this final decision.

Is this your favorite reality show? Not exactly.

At AT&T we believe a great idea can come from anywhere. In 2009 we built The Innovation Pipeline (TIP) crowdsourcing and collaboration tool to tap the collective imagination of our employees. Since its creation, TIP has engaged over 130,000 members from all 50 states and over 50 countries in creating ideas to change how we work and play. Our executives have allocated over $45 million in investment funds to make those ideas a reality.

No matter the rank, location or expertise – TIP opens the door for any of our people to transform the world.

There is nothing more encouraging for our employees than to see their front-line colleagues pitching ideas to our leadership, getting feedback, getting support and, in most cases, getting funding.

Igal Elbaz, SVP Wireless Technology

Step 1: Social Innovation

The process kicks-off with a “TIP Season” – a three-month period where employees submit, vote and collaborate on ideas they believe will make an impact. Ideas are then refined through real-time feedback from their peers with the best rising to the top. Palo Alto Developer, Key West Technician, Portland Retail Sales Consultant – no matter where or who they are, the door to submitting an idea is always open.

Step 2: The Pitch

Once a TIP Season ends, the top ideas are pitched to the AT&T “Angel Investors” – AT&T executives who act as venture capitalists – with real money to fund ideas of their choice. Successful pitches leave with the executive support needed to begin the prototype-building phase of the project.

Step 3: Prototype

Ideas are developed into working prototypes by the AT&T Foundry, our start-up environments where cutting-edge ideas thrive. Innovation thrives in this prototype development process. Once complete, our internal business units evaluate the commercial potential of the product. This is the branching point that decides whether the project stays in our business or should be released into the world.

Step 4: Production

If the business unit sees potential, it’s prepared for release to our customers. What ideas have launched?

Not all TIP ideas reach the public. Those that don’t, often stay with our people and help them build the next big thing. For over 10 years, TIP has helped teams across the globe drive innovation at AT&T. We can’t wait to see what they come up with next.

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