Do you have what it takes to survive the Shark Tank? That’s the question Mitel’s engineers ask themselves every year during Innovation Day, Mitel’s in-house employee competition where research and design teams from around the world come together to share their biggest and best ideas for the future of unified communications.

Creativity and invention have always been integral parts of life at Mitel, even from our very start in 1973. 

“Innovation Day is a celebration of the innovative spirit embedded in Mitel’s DNA and has allowed us to remain competitive for 47 years and counting,” Al Hurren, Senior Vice President of Product Development, said.

For the past 11 years, Innovation Day has allowed our engineers to showcase their latest concepts and prototypes based on a central theme. Introducing an annual Shark Tank-style competition has only made it more electrifying. 

Like the hit show, the process is rigorous, and the talent is fierce. Facing a panel of authoritative judges (comprised of experienced leaders from across Mitel), participants pitch their latest innovations in the hopes of reeling in a shark and landing a deal.

These experts are looking to invest in Mitel’s next big product by identifying ideas with the potential to change the way the world manages collaboration and communication. Winning proposals will combine novelty and innovation with executability and commercial value. 

The experience is thrilling for both judges and participants. “I’ve had a lot of fun working with the teams and seeing their passion for what they had done, the depth of thought that had gone into their ideas, and the work they had accomplished,” Tarun Loomba, Mitel’s CEO and Shark Tank head judge said.

Over 100 initial presentations occur on Innovation Day, where a select few are narrowed down to enter the semifinal round. In the next phase, the top candidates meet with a judging panel and hone their ideas over several weeks with the help of mentors to prepare for the final presentation. Finally, the top three competitors move on to the final round by delivering their pitches to the senior executive judges. The winner gets the chance to see their ideas turned into reality and added to Mitel’s cutting-edge lineup. 

From the Shark Tank to the Real World: 2019 Winner in Action 

If you’ve used the Mitel AR app (available on Google Play and the App Store), you’ve experienced Innovation Day’s results firsthand. As a winning Shark Tank 2019 design, the app employs augmented reality (AR) to bring the Mitel customer experience into the future. 

The program allows users to point their mobile phones at a Mitel 6900 IP Series device, automatically identifying the model and providing easy access to guides and information like critical features, animations, and videos. 

Another futuristic function? The app uses AR to show you any Mitel 6900 IP Series phone on any surface in 3D, so you don’t have to use your imagination to picture your desk’s look with your new device.

And the Shark Tank 2021 Winners Are…

We’re happy to be back in full swing with Innovation Day post-pandemic, and it’s all about you – our customers. The theme of Innovation Day 2021 was “Elevate User Experience – Redefine Simplicity,” encouraging ideas to make our collaboration solutions even more straightforward, intuitive, and efficient.

Loomba believes simplicity and elevation are at the core of Mitel’s success. 

“I don’t think there could be a more important facet of our products across the board. There’s excitement when you have a product or service that works well and works intuitively,” he said.

As an additional challenge, our new partnership with RingCentral encouraged innovators to frame their prototypes with an agile, forward-thinking mindset, blending solutions for existing Mitel products with ideas for future collaborations.

Without further ado, we’re pleased to announce the winners of Shark Tank 2021:

First place: Alex Sorenson, Australia

For Alex Sorenson and his team of sales engineers in Brisbane, every day is an opportunity to use Mitel products to solve client problems. He works closely with customers to learn about their needs, then collaborates with partners within Mitel to develop new solutions.

This Innovation Day, Sorenson’s close connection to both customers and colleagues gave him an idea for seamlessly integrating Mitel tools into client workflows, winning over the Shark Tank judges and earning him first place.

The collaborative nature of his work energizes Sorenson. “I think the Shark Tank and Innovation Day initiative is just another amazing way to see what the minds at Mitel can achieve when pulled together,” he said.

Second place: Jean-Baptiste Girard, France

Jean-Baptiste Girard, a software engineer in Research and Development in Guyancourt, took the theme of simplicity to heart when working on his idea for Innovation Day.

With his technical expertise in Mitel’s latest technology and first-hand knowledge of customer needs, Girard consulted with coworkers in his own and other departments to find ways to streamline the user experience.

This was Girard’s first time qualifying for Shark Tank, and the experience paid off with a second-place finish. But he doesn’t limit his creativity to one day a year: “Innovation is a part of my day-to-day job!”

Third place: Ramanathan Pethaperumal, Canada

Ramanathan Pethaperumal, a systems architect in Kanata, works best with a “Focus” playlist and his creativity, developing ideas to solve contact center problems late at night in his home office before bringing them to his coworkers for feedback.

Pethaperumal found the Shark Tank process thrilling, describing Innovation Day as a “field trip to the future,” and several rounds of iterating on his concept with the sharks led him to a third-place prize.

He appreciates the culture of innovation Mitel fosters. “Creativity is a part of my life (not just at work). I am proud of what I am doing every day,” he said.

We’re looking forward to seeing how these concepts elevate our users’ experiences in the future.

Innovation Day highlights the talent that lives in the heart of every Mitel employee. Loomba points out the spirit of creativity at Mitel:

“There’s no monopoly on good ideas. Great innovations can come from anyone across the company. And it’s important that we foster that part of our culture as part of the way we do things, not just on Innovation Day, but every day of the year,” Loomba said.

Innovation Day and Shark Tank are just two ways Mitel recognizes and supports the daily creative development behind the scenes. Learn about the ways Mitel’s latest technology can help you modernize your unified communications and collaboration capabilities. 

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