“Startups are known for taking risks and not being afraid of failure. But few startups openly celebrate mistakes the way OpenMarkets Health does.” That’s the lead sentence in a new article featured on the Built In Chicago website, celebrating the mindset of innovation fostered at OpenMarkets.
Built in Chicago is an online community that creates and curates exclusive content on local startups, hosts monthly events and publishes data on the Chicago tech sector; it was founded by some of the city’s most successful entrepreneurs.
The article shares details about OpenMarkets’ monthly “Failure Contest,” which rewards the company employee who made the biggest mistake that month with $500. It shares the history – and strategy – behind the unusual contest, and credits initiatives like it with playing a key role in OpenMarkets growth. The article also highlights that growth: In the past 12 months, OpenMarkets has celebrated a major software release and seen a 277 percent increase in sales. The platform now boasts over 400 hospitals in 40 states along with 75 suppliers.
“If you were a traditional healthcare company, you would never say it’s OK to fail,” OpenMarkets Co-Founder and Senior VP Tom Derrick
in the article. “But a different mindset is necessary when you’re building technology. The rationale here is that at a product company, it’s OK to fail. You’re taking large risks and trying to be innovative in your thinking.”
Derrick says the contest began in January and was born out of a mistake made by the engineering team. After causing a minor data leak during a software deployment, the team was too embarrassed to tell the sales and marketing departments about their mistake. When word eventually got out, OpenMarkets CEO Michael Fineberg saw it as an opportunity to build transparency and trust within the product-centric culture he’s working to foster. Today, employees report their biggest mistakes directly to the CEO each month, and at the company’s monthly meeting, the biggest loser and their mistake are announced to a round of applause.
“The key is that you teach others about your mistakes and learn from them,” Derrick says.