In this interview we talk to Karel De Bondt, an expert on intrapreneurship at VRT Sandbox.
Hi Karel, you are an expert on intrapreneurship at VRT Sandbox. When and how did you take on that role?
I’ve been working at VRT Sandbox pretty much since the beginning. I started with running the startup cases themselves. Afterwards, I began working on an intrapreneurshiptrack, and a track on innovative video workflows.
What does intrapreneurship mean exactly?
At VRT Sandbox, we offer the same support to startups as to internal inventors. These intrapreneursare people with creative ideas, that program software, but also hardware. We want to offer them the same platform as the external companies. This means we will set up a collaboration with production teams and help them grow. We will offer training for pitching, sales and business analysis, as well as business development and so much more. Giving colleagues the opportunity to develop their own ideas adds value to the VRT as a work place. We want keep advancing in terms of technology, innovation and creative ideas. The best ideas are born on the production floor itself. We want to find those people and create space for them to grow.
Could you give me an example of an intrapreneurship case you took on?
One of our more successful intrapreneurs is Renaud Schoonbroodt, who works at the radio support team. One day, he started programming, literally, in his office at home. As a result, he created a complete and stable studio environment in one program that you can run on an iPad. Normally, this is something that would require an entire technical room and radio production room. Our next step would be to implement it in a real radio production and test how a real DJ can work with it to produce a real radio show. This will be a valuable learning experience for Renaud to further improve his product. At the same time, we are looking into any options to start a new company, by gathering more information about funding and the development of the company.
What does the innovative video workflow track look like?
Our focus has always been on live video productions. Last year, we discovered how much web video makers valued our technology department’s support. Even for classic broadcasters like VRT, web video makers are becoming more and more important. When we started talking with those creators, we asked them what they were looking for. Based on their input, we started buying more gear for a community of video makers within VRT. Every two to three months, we organise half a day of training and inspiration sessions for them. Together, I believe we can make the web video process and, hopefully, the web video quality better.
What is your current ambition for this track?
This year, our goal is to make the multicam live video productions more efficient and compact. This means we’ll be entering the domain of classic TV productions where you’d typically need an OB-van or a TV-studio to create your show. While we, VRT Sandbox, look at the situation through innovative glasses, we will try to not only reduce the amount of gear, but also the amount of people. We aim to reach the same, or even better, results and perhaps even make the world a better place. (laughter)
Which VRT Sandbox case taught you the most?
It’s already been more than a year now, but the “Live IP” project was an eye-opener in many ways. First of all, technology-wise. At that time, we were on the bleeding edge of innovation, the whole world was watching us. Literally. Our press releases have been translated into all languages of the world. People from China, India and even Brazil were taking a plane to come and view our studio. Secondly, collaboration-wise. We had twelve technology companies working together, that are each other’s commercial competitors in the real world. In our studio however, they were working and innovating together.
What do you hope the future holds for VRT Sandbox?
For 2018 and beyond, I hope VRT Sandbox can continue to realise relevant projects. For a next step, it would be nice to see more of our endeavours end up in real productions.
Why is that?
It doesn’t happen often enough for our tools to get picked up by the mainstream technology, operations and TV productions. We’re all busy people and after one project has ended, we’re already working on two or three other projects. Due to our focus and lack of manpower, we are not able to make sure that every project is handed over to production. The same counts for the technology and operation department, that also has a heavy workload and busy schedule. If it isn’t planned beforehand, then the chances are low that they are able to pick up what we’re doing. It’s all a matter of timing. Sometimes we, VRT Sandbox, are too early. It’s not only about video production, but about all other circumstances as well. Sometimes the mindset, nor the right context, is apparent, which means we’re too early. We believe it does have all potential to work in the future though.
One last question, if you could change one thing about the VRT Sandbox workflow, what would it be?
Within VRT Sandbox, we’re all so busy and focused on our own deliverables that there’s not a lot of time to do things together. I believe that if we could make time, we could be even better in what we do. Therefore, I would like to invent ten more hours to share with my colleagues.
Thank you for your time, Karel!