Cooperating and Competing with Large Companies to Grow Your Startup

Posted May 23, 2017

Matt Hunckler

CEO & Founder

Brand marketer and venture capitalist Dave Knox is an expert in relationships between large companies and startups, as he has extensive experience working in both worlds.

Knox began his career at Procter & Gamble, where he consistently pushed the envelope in terms of marketing and digital innovation, eventually spearheading the company’s development of digital business strategies. He left the company in 2010 to co-found The Brandery, a startup accelerator in Cincinnati, OH, leveraging his seven years of corporate experience to advise local founders on their entrepreneurial journeys. In addition to his work with The Brandery, Knox also serves as Managing Director of WPP Ventures and CMO of Rockfish Digital.

Knox has an astute understanding of the ways startups and corporations affect each other. In our interview, he explains why startups must strategically compete and cooperate with large companies to improve their capacity for innovation and disruption—which can ultimately lead to acquisition and profitable exits.

If this episode leaves you eager for more of Knox’s keen insights into corporate-startup interactions, you’ll want to pick up his new book, Predicting the Turn: The High Stakes Game of Business Between Startups and Blue Chips. Purchase the book through the publisher’s website and enter the coupon code “powderkeg” for an exclusive $10 discount on your order. As bonus, I’ll also be giving away a free copy of the book to one lucky listener who comments on this episode!

In this episode with Dave Knox, you’ll learn:

  • The key to building your network outside of a major tech hub (9:10)
  • How to avoid falling prey to large companies that can “disrupt the disruptor” (15:06)
  • Corporate venture capital is the new R&D (20:07)
  • The difference between outsiders and disruptors (24:00)
  • The ongoing transition toward fully digital business models (34:40)
  • Why startups need to engage with large companies from the beginning (38:28)
  • Reasons you might want to work with corporate VC organizations (44:30)

Please enjoy this conversation with Dave Knox!

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This episode of Powderkeg is brought to you by DeveloperTown. If you’re a business leader trying to turn a great idea into a product with traction, this is for you.

DeveloperTown works with clients ranging from entrepreneurs to Fortune 100 companies who want to build and launch an app or digital product. They’re able to take the process they use with early stage companies to help big companies move like a startup.

So if you have an idea for a web or mobile app, or need help identifying the great ideas within your company, go to developertown.com/powderkeg.

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Dave Knox Quotes from This Episode of Powderkeg:

“We want to be part of building the community instead of just hoping somebody else did the hard work 10 years ago.” — Dave Knox

“If every day looks the same in terms of where you go, where you interact and the people you spend your time with, you’re never going to have a network that builds.” — Dave Knox

“The days are gone when your acquirer is buying you to take a competitor off the table. It’s not about consolidation anymore. It’s about innovation-driven acquisition.” — Dave Knox

 

Links and Resources Mentioned in this Episode:

Companies and Organizations:

Rockfish Digital

Procter & Gamble

Braxton Brewing Company

ExactTarget

Dollar Shave Club

Get Satisfaction

American Express

General Electric

GrowthHackers

Amazon

Deliv

Nokia Bell Labs

Xerox PARC

Under Armour

Birchbox

Unilever

Everything But the House

FlightCar

Basecamp

Bonobos

Casper

The Honest Company

Warby Parker

Salesforce

Jet

General Motors

Cruise Automation

Cisco

Venture Capital Firms:

WPP Ventures

High Alpha

Union Square Ventures

Spark Capital

Greycroft Partners

Greenspring Associates

General Catalyst Partners

Andreessen Horowitz

Google Ventures

Salesforce Ventures

Startup Accelerators:

The Brandery

Universities:

Miami University

Harvard University

Wharton School of UPenn

Books:

Predicting the Turn

Get Lucky

Hacking Growth

Websites:

AngelList

eBay

Stratechery

People:

Dave Knox (@daveknox)

Jake Rouse (@JacobRouse)

Jonathan Gandolf (@JDGandolf)

Naval Ravikant (@naval)

Sean Ellis (@SeanEllis)

Morgan Brown (@morganb)

Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos)

Scott Dorsey (@ScottDorsey)

Fred Wilson (@fredwilson)

David Heinemeier Hansson (@dhh)

Ben Thompson (@benthompson)

Andy Dunn (@dunn)

John Chambers (LinkedIn)

John Somorjai (@jsomorjai)

Did you enjoy this conversation? Thank Dave on Twitter!

If you enjoyed this session and have 3 seconds to spare, let Dave Knox know via Twitter by clicking on the link below:

Click here to say hi and thank Dave on twitter!

COMMENTS?

What stood out most to you about what Dave shares in this podcast?

For me, it’s how to avoid falling prey to large companies that can “disrupt the disruptor”.

You? Leave a comment below.

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Matt Hunckler

CEO & Founder

Matt is the founder and CEO of Powderkeg, a network of local communities with global reach for tech entrepreneurs, investors, and top talent. Powderkeg entrepreneurs have collectively raised more than $500 million in capital and are disrupting industries, creating wealth, and changing the world from areas beyond Silicon Valley. Hunckler has led successful teams with his own ventures, as well as Inc. 500 companies and venture-funded tech startups. He's been named an Under 30 CEO Entrepreneur to Watch and an IBJ Forty Under 40 Honoree for his entrepreneurial endeavors. @hunckler