At a glance

Diageo’s tech and innovation department shares its experience working in partnership with new players, and explains how large brands can begin to understand the startup space.

Why it matters

The difference between small young companies and older, larger organisations means that partnerships between the two are extremely difficult to pull off.

Truly new technologies (and new uses for them) are more likely to come from hungry, agile, young companies than publicly listed giants. Some of these ideas explore how that hunger is central to the startup and how they can apply to big firms.


  • When making choices about where to invest or partner, large brands often want scale right now; the far bigger prize is getting to a scalable idea early and riding its upward trajectory.
  • Start with something broken: startups tend to begin with a problem in the real world rather than a retrofitted technology.
  • As a big brand, your world is as new to the startup as theirs is to you: help them understand the organisation, help them build support with a network, and help them understand that large organisations move slower.