top of page

Don’t Fail Fast -Learn Fast!

Learn about Michigan State University FCU's Innovation Strategies to get your credit union started!

MSUFCU has taken innovation to the next level by creating an innovation ecosystem. Learn from their experience to start creating your own today!

Getting Started

Key Innovation Principles 


01. Make it Cultural

Innovation is the yearn to constantly learn and reiterate. Employees need to feel that they are empowered with opportunities to make a difference without fear of repercussion. The focus should always be on what was learned. Once employees know that, innovation becomes part of the foundation of culture, ultimately driving engagement.

At our core, credit unions were created to deliver financial services in an innovative way. Innovation is already part of who we are, it's time to tap into that entrepreneurial spirit and encourage a mindset change at our organizations. 

Identify ways innovation is already happening at your CU - highlight those successes and build upon them.

02. Plan...but don't over-plan

Plan because a formal process is essential to create alignment with strategic goals, to effectively recruit and retain employees, to aid in the selection process, to set clear expectations and to facilitate an open feedback loop.


Don't over-plan because the plan will never be perfect. As with every strategy,  flexibility and agility and the ability to "pivot" along the way are essential and unavoidable.


Create guardrails to keep the team on track, but avoid hindering their success by NOT defining all the steps up front. 

03. Engage Members & Employees

Over 3,000 MSUFCU members have participated in pilots facilitated by The Lab at MSUFCU including 500 members who serve on an ongoing member panel to provide early product feedback and guidance on innovation priorities.

Since Fall 2020, nearly 40 MSUFCU employees have participated in a 20 week innovation program where they learn Design Thinking, Lean Start Up and Agile Methodologies as they build prototypes with fintech partners to test with members. 95% of participants have reported being more engaged and empowered to make a difference in their role. 

Members are already giving you feedback, involve them in finding the solutions. 

04. Partner to "Learn Fast"

Don't start from scratch! Chances are, someone else is already testing out what you want to do. Perhaps a potential fintech partner has the expertise and skills to bring your ideas to life. Many fintechs have gone through the process of building and testing, and can provide that head-start.

Since January 2020, The Lab at MSUFCU has evaluated 215 innovative fintech, digital transformation and emerging technology startups. These conversations have resulted in 12 fintech partner pilots, 7 have completed, 6 of those were “greenlit” to be fully implemented as a project or enhancement. 9 additional companies were referred to business units for further evaluation, of which 3 have gone on to strategic project implementations.

Look at your current vendors for an opportunity to try them out as a partner. 

05. Identify a Champion

One of the major pain points preventing successful innovation at credit unions is the lack of a post-innovation execution plan. Quite often innovation happens in a silo and its only true artifact is a report of the innovation activity without a path forward.  


MSUFCU solved this by assigning an Executive Sponsor and Product Owner from the appropriate business domain to each innovation pilot from the start. Once a pilot completes a "green light" decision is made, they are highly involved in making the case to move the idea forward to full scale deployment.  If it is determined an idea should not be fully deployed then it is documented as to why, allowing it to be picked up off the shelf in the future if the timing or marketing conditions are right in the future. 


Use a gate-style approach to innovation - choose a champion, set milestones and as they are achieved determine to continue or end exploration of an idea.

Creating an Innovation Ecosystem with The Lab at MSUFCU & Reseda Group


The Lab at MSUFCU is a center for innovation that brings agility, collaboration, drive, and innovation together to turn ideas into advanced financial technologies.

The Lab at MSUFCU was established to identify, create, and execute opportunities for innovation at the Credit Union. By devoting resources to cultivating an entrepreneurial mindset, collaborative ideas can be generated that lead to pilots and new technology, products and services for members and employees

Since January 2020, The Lab at MSUFCU has evaluated 215 innovative fintech, digital transformation and emerging technology startups resulting in 12 fintech partner pilots. Seven of those pilots were completed with six “greenlit” to be fully implemented. Two of those “greenlit” products were early successes; a new service channel delivered to members in weeks and a chatbot build out in 10 days. 


At its core Reseda Group believes in building better for members. Supporting the best and brightest in FinTech and dynamic solution providers in the financial services space will get us there. That’s where Reseda Group comes in. Investing in innovative partners, and supporting their growth, in turn allows us to support credit unions and our member communities in reaching their financial goals. Reseda Group: Building better for members, together with our partners.

Reseda Group has invested in 11 Fintechs & CUSOs including 3 subsidiary CUSOs Spave, Ever Green 3C, and Foresight Group. Reseda Group offers a complementary set of support for fintechs through investment and providing encouragement to focus on credit unions as a growth strategy as they scale. Several of Reseda's Investment company's started out as pilot partners in The Lab at MSUFCU.


Success Stories


Following a 10-day build out, 60 employees were invited to pilot a chatbot in collaboration with Boost.AI.  After 1 week of piloting with employees, 50% favorably reviewed the chatbot.  By the 4 week mark, 100% of employees provided a favorable review. Also able to automate 2,000 employee-to-employee interaction each month saving over $100k each year in employee time.

Digital Experience

For its first pilot The Lab at MSUFCU partnered with fintech POPi/o to roll out a video banking solution to enable face to face interactions during the pandemic in 2020. The Lab Method allowed for a 5-week implementation of the video chat solution which would typically been a 10 month plus project. And for just under $10k for the pilot costs MSUFCU was able to determine that members really liked this new digital channel rating it 97% positive during the course of the pilot. 

Financial Wellness

Financial wellness has been a strong focus area for The Lab at MSUFCU & Reseda Group, partnering and investing in Pocketnest, ChangEd, Spave and Ever Green 3C. All four fintechs provide varying levels of automation and education related to finances. Pocketnest is a comprehensive digital financial planning tool with 10 themes to explore, ChangEd educates and helps pay off student loans early through roundups, Spave is an autonomous giving and saving platform for social good automating giving with connections to over 1.5 million accredited charities, Ever Green 3C provides an enormous library of financial education content originally created by MSUFCU's Financial Education department now packaged for resale to other CUs. 


Ben Maxim

VP of Digital Strategy & Innovation, MSUFCU and CTO, Reseda Group

“Fintech partnerships are a way for us to react to new technologies quickly without having to build everything ourselves. The lab ensures we can validate that these ideas actually resonate with our members. And our CUSOs provide a path forward for fintechs to thrive in the credit union industry.

Vote For MSUFCU's Innovation Ecosystem as i3's CU Innovation of the year!

Get a Demo
bottom of page