From Clydesdales to Unicorns: Bringing a Startup to Life

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By Sergio Esteves

AB InBev prides itself on being as quick and efficient as a much smaller company. The culture is surprisingly similar to that of a nimble, young startup business—but at a tremendous scale. Still, AB InBev realized that prioritizing creativity and growth—not to mention disrupting existing practices—would be easier in a separate, compact startup. Thus, the genesis of ZX Ventures.

ZX Ventures was created to disrupt AB InBev’s core business by prioritizing different things—creativity, outside-the-box thinking, and rebuilding from the ground up. It’s hard, in a big company, to create a new way of doing things or a new business or service. Those are tasks we can focus on here.

I still think of ZX Ventures as a crazy dream, even though I’ve been working here for almost a year. We bring to life the incredible vision of our founders: to put great people to work in a tiny “think tank” and incubator environment, where we get to pursue wild ideas and experiment with small changes (and sometimes big ones), sailing uncharted waters.

I was always empowered to be creative and innovative at AB InBev, but it’s leveled up at ZX Ventures. We’re so small that we can try out a crazy idea from left-field, and if it works, that’s great. If it doesn’t, we haven’t lost much because implementation was inexpensive.  We can test out ideas without fear of failure and without needing to compete with huge brands. Maybe we’ll find some solutions that will apply to AB InBev’s core businesses, or maybe we’ll expand the market!

I like to say that we’re creating unicorns at ZX Ventures. We’re already creating magical results from our weirdest, most out-there dreams. Even I don’t know what we’ll come up with next—but that’s the advantage of running a small startup company within a large business.