Change Agent

How SoapBox CEO Brennan McEachran helps companies dig up better ideas

A company’s best new ideas can come from any employee—but only if you have a system to find them

header for Canadian Business series Change Agents
Soapbox Innovations CEO and co-founder Brennan McEachran

Soapbox Innovations CEO and co-founder Brennan McEachran. (Portrait by Roberto Caruso)

Brennan McEachran co-founded SoapBox Innovations in 2010. The platform for gathering employee ideas counts Coca-Cola, Bank of Montreal, General Electric and Metrolinkx among its clients, and raised $3 million in seed financing in October 2015. He explains how his company helps big corporations to surface the best ideas from their workforce:

“We make software that enables large companies to act like successful startups. As an organization grows, it needs structure. But structure leads to silos—physical, geographic and departmental divisions—that stop great ideas from being acted upon, because they don’t reach the right people. Ideas and engagement die.

What we’re doing is flattening organizations: SoapBox lets all employees submit ideas for making or saving money, for changes they’d like to see in the company or for ways to improve the customer or employee experience. Other employees can give a thumbs-up or thumbs-down to the suggestions. SoapBox automatically finds similar ideas and merges those together, and the best ones bubble up all the way to the top. Leaders can not only find the best proposals but also act upon them and communicate what they’ve done to the whole organization.

The promise you’re making to your employees is, ‘If you add an idea here, we’re going to look at it and evaluate it.’ If you launch something like SoapBox—even if it’s just an email address for ideas—you need to respond to the community. Otherwise, employees feel ignored. You get the opposite of what you want.”