Corporate Innovation and Venturing

These are perilous times for top corporations. They are being disrupted by new entrants at every turn, and had better figure out how to remain vital and relevant, or their very existence may be at stake.

But as is the case in any time of tumult and transition, opportunities also abound.

Earle & Company is well equipped to help corporate innovation leaders navigate these choppy waters, and transform a predicament fraught with risk into one flush with rewards.

Corporate innovation and venturing capabilities are derived from Paul Earle’s experience as co-founder and Executive Director of Farmhouse, the innovation center of the esteemed leading global creative agency Leo Burnett, where he and his team advised companies like Procter & Gamble, Kellogg’s, McDonald’s, and other big incumbents about how to innovate and grow, as well as the knowledge and insights Paul Earle has gained via his role on the faculty at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, where he co-leads the popular “Corporate Innovation & New Ventures,” class amongst other things. Complementing these experiences is a strategic alliance with the top growth strategy boutique Clareo.

Specifically, we can deliver:

• Innovation and growth strategy
• Internal open innovation platforms
• External open innovation platforms
• Corporate venture capital guidance
• Corporate/startup partnering guidance

[ tim- any way to make this section more interesting visually? ]

If you’re a corporate innovation leader and are seeking to drive growth, get in touch:

New Brand Conception and Design

We’re not aware of many new products that have gone to market anonymously. Even Anonymous, the mysterious mischief maker of the Internet, is not anonymous… that’s an awesome and nearly perfect name choice, and is a powerful brand by any measure.

We desperately love creating new brands from scratch, and have done it a lot. We’re very comfortable with time zero, and a blank piece of paper. We’ll do it all for you: identifying the people who matter most, the insight, the name and nomenclature, the graphic design, form design, go-to-market design, all of it.

One example of this kind of work is High Noon, pictured here [Tim please add a few more visuals]. A major wine and spirits company hired Farmhouse, the innovation center at Leo Burnett that Paul Earle co-founded and served as Executive Director, to create a new brand to bring to life a vodka formula they had acquired. The Farmhouse team did pretty much everything outlined in the paragraph above. It was a thrilling adventure and we are very proud of the outcome (the new brand and business are out there now, and there is much potential).

There is a corollary to brand conception and design, by the way. That is: brand reconception and redesign. We have done a lot of that too; it is fundamentally a similar exercise.

If you think your business might benefit from some art complementing your science, get in touch.


Stranger Things, and the Business Value of Being Nice

Barrels, Crates, and The Wisdom of Norman Rockwell

Radio Flyer, and the Benefits of Doing What You Love

The REAL Reason Why The Brandscape Should Be Afraid of Amazon

The Chicago Cubs, a World Series Championship, and the LIMITATIONS of Data

How Unilever Risked Too Much on Dove to Appeal to Women

PR Newswire Press Release:
Paul Earle & Co., A Modern New Platform for Corporate Innovation and Venturing, Is Launched

Amazon Inventions Tour:
Amazon Inventions Tour presents Paul W. Earle, Jr., Executive Director, Farmhouse

Chicago Tribune:
How Leo Burnett’s Farmhouse tends the growth of ideas

Burnett looks to create products with innovation incubator

Innovation Journal:
What’s Your Design Strategy? It’s Your Story.

Chicago Tribune:
Leo Burnett’s Farmhouse venture hopes to bring crop of new ideas to clients, maybe consumers

Today Show:
Old Products Get New Life

The New York Times:
Can A Dead Brand Live Again?

Brand Wagon

Origin Stories of Innovation℠

It’s easy to take the existence of today’s great brands and institutions for granted. Be mindful, however, of the fact that each one of them was started by real people at some point in the past, at great risk. And the path to success was rarely a straight one: in the early days, there were invariably plenty of twists, turns, brilliant maneuvers, and missteps, plus the ever-present impact of timing, opportunism, and the almighty rota fortunae. Through highs and lows, there was never a dull moment.

Origin Stories of Innovation℠ is a podcast series featuring interviews with founders, successors to founders, Presidents, Chairmen, and CEOs of great enterprises. The host, Paul Earle, begins each conversation with a basic question—how did it all begin? – and guides interviewees through a recounting of their own fascinating stories. Each tale is unique, but across very different verticals and even generations, there are commonalities. A “beginner’s mind” to do things differently and disrupt the category, optimism, a genuine love of people, and good old-fashioned common sense are just a few of them.

We have a great line up for Season One; guests are: Gordon Segal, co-founder and former CEO of Crate & Barrel; Rocky Wirtz, owner and Chairman of the Chicago Blackhawks; Andy Friedman, co-founder and former CEO of Skinny Pop; Robert Pasin, CEO and grandson of the founder, Radio Flyer; Kelly Leonard, former President/theatrics and successor to founders, The Second City; and Marc Bushala, co-founder and former CEO, Angel’s Envy Spirits Co.

Season 1 premiered on April 13, 2017 – click here to listen.
Check back here later for news about Season 2, tentatively planned for release this fall.

Special thanks to Leo Burnett, Lowercase Inc., and Sodada for their contributions to this production.


Paul Earle & Co. is led by Paul W. Earle, Jr., a brand and innovation professional, entrepreneur, intrapreneur, and lecturer with significant experience in design, the development of new products and services, new venture formation, intellectual property licensing, marketing communications of all kinds, and traditional brand management and strategy. His professional experience entails innovation roles at several top global creative agencies, most notably and most recently Leo Burnett, where he co-founded and led Farmhouse, its new product and service innovation center. Paul also has substantial experience in private startups, as founder and President of the brand acquisition firm River West Brands, which became part of Omnicom Group in 2007, as well as being part of the founding team that created and launched Angel’s Envy, the brown spirits company acquired by Bacardi in 2015. Paul is also an adjunct lecturer of innovation and entrepreneurship at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, where he co-leads the popular “Corporate Innovation & New Ventures” lab class. Paul’s full biography can be downloaded here.

Simply put, Alliance Partner and Advisor Craig Dubitsky is one of the consumer product world’s most acclaimed innovators and entrepreneurs today. A passionate champion for design of all kinds, Craig was one of the founding investors and Board members of Method Home Products; co-founder of Eos; and currently is founder/CEO of Hello Products. He also sits on the board of a number of important and successful design-driven new enterprises in the consumer space, such as Flow Water, Finally Light Bulbs, and several others. Among many other accolades, Craig has been named to the CREATIVITY 50 as one of top 50 most creative people in business, and most recently was named Innocos’ first runner up for “Innovator of the Year.”

Alliance Partner and Advisor Stephanie Farsht has been a leading pioneer at the intersection of innovation and retail throughout her career. Currently a faculty member at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management and active member of a number of emerging enterprises, she was previously a senior leader at Target Corporation, where she led and managed the team charged with evaluating acquisitions, joint ventures, and partnership opportunities on the cutting edge of what’s next in retail. She also led and developed Target’s relationships with key digital partners (Facebook, eBay, Google), venture capital firms, and startups. Stephanie founded and led Target’s first-ever Digital Advisory Board, and previously held a senior corporate development role for the company.

In the world of innovation and product design, Alliance Partner and Advisor Craig Sampson is one of the top practitioners and academics. A Stanford engineer by training, he was an early protégé of David Kelley and member of David Kelley Design, one of the predecessor companies to what would later become the famous innovation firm IDEO. Craig later founded IDEO’s Chicago office, which he led successfully for years. At IDEO, he stewarded the conception and creation of a number of famous consumer products and services in the market today across a wide range of verticals, and in particular later served as head of their global healthcare practice. He subsequently led innovation at World Kitchen, and served on the leadership team of Farmhouse, the innovation center at Leo Burnett. He is presently a faculty member at Northwestern’s Segal Design Institute and an investor in a number of early stage companies, amongst other endeavors.

Paul Earle & Co. is also fortunate to be able to leverage relationships with prominent players throughout the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem, including the top growth specialist Clareo, other proven entrepreneurs, myriad capital sources, myriad retail outlets (both established and new), top creative agencies, incubators and accelerators, academic institutions (including students and tech transfer offices), consultancies, and beyond.

Whatever the challenge, Paul Earle & Co.—a small team by design, but one with wide reach and the right reach—is positioned to help its partners succeed.


When it comes to innovation in a corporate setting, so much more is possible.

Granted, the big guys are already great at R&D, consumer and marketplace insights, business analytics, concept development, and—if they have the right partners—design of all kinds.

But where they often struggle, by their own admission, is getting promising ideas through their own systems and into marketplace where they belong.

Burdensome size. Lack of speed and flexibility. Risk aversion. Red tape. Impossibly high financial hurdles. Corporate politics. These are just some of the forces that are hostile to the quest for innovation within many established corporations.

What makes this predicament even trickier is this: while most big players still wrestle with the old demons above, the outside environment is changing around them every minute. We have reached a historic inflection point, and established corporations may find themselves at a competitive disadvantage if they don’t do… something.

The membrane separating The Corporation from the ecosystem of external innovation and entrepreneurship must become increasingly porous and pliable. And therein lies the great opportunity.

Enter Paul Earle & Co., a unique, modern collective of entrepreneurs, innovation experts, and creative professionals committed to helping top established companies—and their people— TRANSFORM MIND INTO MATTER™. Led by private entrepreneur, corporate entrepreneur, and Kellogg innovation professor Paul Earle, as well as an extended network of some of the most accomplished doers and thinkers in their fields, Paul Earle & Co. was formed to provide a new alternative for large corporations seeking to commercialize more, better innovations, faster.

Paul Earle & Co. was forged out of a strong belief that advancing promising ideas out of the proverbial top drawer and into the marketplace, even as an experiment, is not just good business, it’s a moral imperative. Corporations have a responsibility to their shareholders, to their employees, and to the consumer populace at large to do much more to have the gifts of their considerable creative capital actually realized. We exist to be a champion for the advancement of great ideas and the people behind them in corporations everywhere.

Consider Advance Party™, a platform designed to short-circuit internal development systems by fast-tracking promising ideas to market directly via a transactional route, forming coalitions of external operators, financial capital, and other relationships. You could almost think of Advance Party™ as an enhanced, applied dot connection service. The fundamental mission of a corporate innovation program is to create a portfolio of options on the future, and this helps companies form and realize many more of them.

Then there’s Hammer & Pick™, a highly unique approach designed to mine through a corporation’s deep reservoir of unutilized intellectual assets, as well as yet-to-be-produced passion projects of its talented employee and franchisee base, all with a mission of unlocking and realizing the considerable value that’s already there. Most large corporations already have some Rembrandts in the attic, or maybe even Rembrandt himself… yet have no systems or people in place to even know it. That ought to change as well, and we’re doing it.

Whether it’s through the delivery of the two offerings above, or any number of other special projects, or speaking and training engagements geared around spreading the gospel of entrepreneurship and innovation to corporate leaders and employees, Paul Earle & Co. aims to emerge as corporations’ most valuable friend and ally in the quest for innovation.

And all of our work is backed up by a clear set of insights and principles about what innovation is… and isn’t… based on decades of experience in the arena. It’s downloadable by clicking here or on the image below.

Thanks for visiting. We look forward to helping you TRANSFORM MIND INTO MATTER™, and to a bright future ahead.


Advance Party℠: The Commissioned Acceleration and Commercialization of Ideas

Established corporations have nearly identical problems: they’re great at developing ideas but often struggle to get them to market in any reasonable time frame, or at all.

Rather than try to develop everything completely internally, what corporations should often do is form an Advance Party™.

Inspired by the old maritime tradition of launching small groups of brave adventurers to explore new territory in advance of a broader landing, an Advance Party™ is a coalition of external operators, retail solutions and capital to bring ideas to life in the only place that matters: the marketplace. And Paul Earle & Co. will make it all happen.

You can think of Advance Party℠ as a creatively-enhanced, hyper industrious dot connection service. It’s a decidedly modern and relevant approach: it tackles the increasingly severe problem of corporate innovation malaise with the increasingly potent solution of leveraging the thriving ecosystem on the outside.

The process is very simple:

1)  Assess the corporation’s portfolio of idea “inventory,” as well as external forces;
2)  Accelerate the best ones through the infusion of strategy, story, and design; then;
3)  Actualize the idea by placing it in an Advance Party™ that first commercializes the concept, operating outside of the corporate structure.

The obvious beneficiary of Advance Party™ is the corporation and its shareholders, as well as external partners brought in for the challenge. But not to be lost is the additional benefit of this approach to the individual inventors, innovation and marketing leaders, and so many other brave souls within the corporation who work on ideas—which are always intensely personal undertakings. They will be given a new pathway for their creations to be brought to life. We’re here for them.

There can be many mechanisms in place to ensure that the corporation retains considerable value in the new endeavor, and further possesses future options once it shows potential to scale.

Proof: Paul Earle has successfully led dozens of complex intellectual property transactions, ranging from trademark licenses to joint ventures and beyond, with companies of all sizes operating in virtually all classes of trade. He has also been directly involved in the conception, financing, and growth of a number of successful private enterprises, in addition to his past role as a corporate entrepreneur. It’s a unique profile, and required in order to implement the Advance Party™ model above. What’s more, the Mind Into Matter™ track records of Paul Earle &Co.’s advisors and partners are quite considerable too. We’re ready.

If you think you have the next big thing but want an alternative to the legacy approach to commercialization, consider forming an Advance Party™.

Feeling adventurous? Contact

Hammer & Pick℠: Mine Your Intangible Assets, Unearth Substantial Value

Fact 1: Large corporations already have a treasure trove of potentially hugely valuable intellectual property and other forms of intangible assets in their possession.

Fact 2: The vast majority of this “creative capital” is buried deep within, and not even inventoried… never mind actually harnessed to create value.

So many great inventions in the R&D apparatus, new product concepts, brand names, marketing ideas, employee ideas… collecting dust.

At PE&Co., we believe that companies wanting to innovate for the future can often start by looking at the untapped value that they already have. An idea from yesterday’s cutting room floor may be thisclose to awesome and simply needs a few simple refinements. Or maybe today’s timing is better. Or perhaps it can be combined with something else. There are many options. After all, creativity is just connecting existing dots in new ways.

Introducing Hammer & Pick℠, a proprietary platform designed to (1) mine through corporations’ existing inventory of intellectual property and even more broadly-defined “ideas” emanating from labs, innovation centers, and even employees’ own passion projects, then (2) creatively, industriously, deploy our skills as entrepreneurs and opportunists to find all new pathways to commercialization.

The Hammer & Pick℠ endeavor is driven by not only by the fact that it’s just plain good business for a company to make use of what it already has, but also a principled belief that morally, all good ideas deserve their day in the sun.

The Hammer & Pick℠ approach is simple. First we mine, then we monetize. The mining is a blend of art, science, and a whole lot of effort, and requires knowing where to look inside of a company. It also requires the judgment that only comes from years of experience in the fields of brands, marketing, and IP commercialization, as well as a proprietary tool we have developed to manage and force rank all the inventory. The monetization piece requires the experience in IP licensing that we bring, as well as a deep network of connections throughout the ecosystem that can result in commercial partnerships. What good is knowing you have a great idea if you don’t find a way to convert it to value?

In addition to helping corporations go on offense with their idea inventory, PE&Co. can also help them ensure that their intangible assets are protected from external privateers, as a defensive measure.

Proof: As founder and President of the dormant trademark acquirer River West Brands, Paul Earle amassed IP mining experience second to none. Over an 8 year run, River West identified and unearthed hundreds of unutilized but valuable corporate IP assets. These efforts ultimately resulted in over 25 commercialization events, transforming once dormant assets into real value again. What’s more, as co-founder and Executive Director of Farmhouse, the innovation center at Leo Burnett, Earle gained real empathy—and an even deeper understanding—of the processes and protocols for R&D and concept development inside a corporation, learning firsthand about IP opportunities and potential at a number of Fortune 100 client sites.

Might you have a few Rembrandts in your attic? Or maybe Rembrandt himself? Let’s find out.


Corporate Training and Events

PE&Co. offers a variety of corporate innovation training programs and workshops, inspired in part by Paul’s role as a member of the faculty at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. Programming can be designed in more of a classic academic format, or custom-built for whatever needs and opportunities you have, or a blend of both.

Paul is also a dynamic public speaker with a track record of delivering great experiences for audiences of all sizes and kinds. He has delivered keynote addresses around the country on topics ranging from branding, to innovation, to entrepreneurship, to design writ large.

Whether you are helping build a culture and practices of innovation at your company, producing a large conference, a smaller gathering for senior management, or simply desire an inspired workshop to study a particular issue, Paul and the team may have the right stuff to give your event a boost of energy, and some fresh perspectives.

Looking for a new voice, fresh insights, and perhaps a jolt of dopamine? Contact

Special Projects at the Nexus of Brands, Intellectual Property and Entrepreneurship

Paul Earle & Co. has the highly-specialized experience and network to help companies transform Mind Into Matter™ in many unique and valuable ways beyond its Advance Party™ and Hammer & Pick™ offerings. Special projects and collaborations include:

• New brand creation (naming, nomenclature, visual ID and beyond)
• Reboot of existing brands of all kinds (big, small, dormant)
• Business development (licensing, partnering) approach to brand extension and growth
• External open innovation and crowdfunding
• Trademark search, acquisition, and divestiture
• Story-driven innovation (including archive mining)
• Strategy and structure of an innovation organization

Interested in maximizing the value of your intangible assets? Contact