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!



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

If you like this episode, please subscribe and leave us a review on iTunes. You can also follow us on Soundcloud or Stitcher. We have an incredible lineup of interviews we’ll be releasing every Tuesday here on the Powderkeg Podcast.

Dave Knox Quotes from This Episode of Powderkeg:


Links and Resources Mentioned in this Episode:

Companies and Organizations:

Rockfish Digital

Procter & Gamble

Braxton Brewing Company


Dollar Shave Club

Get Satisfaction

American Express

General Electric




Nokia Bell Labs

Xerox PARC

Under Armour



Everything But the House





The Honest Company

Warby Parker



General Motors

Cruise Automation


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


Miami University

Harvard University

Wharton School of UPenn


Predicting the Turn

Get Lucky

Hacking Growth






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!


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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