The Japanese company is looking to operate more like a start-up. Since last year it has been running an internal accelerator program for employees to pitch business ideas. The quarterly contest ends with one winning idea being picked. The idea now is to put that winning project on the crowdfunding platform in order to judge the public’s appetite for the product.
Sony could then potentially develop that on a larger scale internally, or sell that product through First Flight’s e-commerce platform.
“Sony’s innovation is ingrained in the company’s founding spirit of `doing what has never been done before,'” said Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai in Tuesday’s press release.
“Nothing embodies this spirit more than passionate entrepreneurs who give shape to their ground-breaking ideas and introduce them to the world, without fear of failure.”
One striking aspect of the First Fight website is the lack of Sony branding, a purposeful move in order to give the products their own identity, according to a person familiar with the matter.
In general, analysts have praised Sony’s move, but said that the crowdfunding initiative might not work for other companies.
“The tough time at Sony it is undoubtedly taking its toll on morale and engaging employees in a way that makes them feel they are driving the company forward is a really smart move,” Ben Wood, chief of research at CCS Insight, told CNBC by phone.
“The problem is if every company in the world has a crowdfunding solution, it won’t be viable. But what Sony has done is unique at a time when it needs to innovative.”