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Two sides of the Web3 coin: Startups and Fortune 500s

You know, one of the questions I get asked almost every day is something like this:

Diego, what’s the best way to go full time into Web3? Should I apply for a startup or go big with a Fortune 500 company?

This is a question that hits close to home because I’ve been fortunate enough to ride both these waves.

Pretty much every day, I have a call with the founder of a three-person startup that’s cooking up some groundbreaking tech, followed by a Zoom meeting with a whole department of a Fortune 500 company, discussing strategies that could impact millions.

So, what’s the verdict? Well, as cliché as it may sound, each has its own set of challenges and rewards. But here’s the thing: they’re not mutually exclusive. In fact, they complement each other in a way that’s pushing the Web3 space to new heights.

Based on my experience, I would say startups are like a speedboat – fast, agile, and able to pivot on a dime. Fortune 500s? Think of them as your cruise ship – loaded with resources, but they tend to take (a looooong) time to change course.

Whether you’re looking to transition into Web3 or just curious about the landscape, there’s a place for you.

Today, I’m pulling back the curtain to give you an insider’s look based on my own journey:

→ Speed vs. Stability: Startups offer agility and quick pivots, while Fortune 500s provide a wealth of resources, brand power, and a solid customer base.

→ Risk and Reward: With startups, it’s all about “test and learn,” while Fortune 500s involve higher stakes and bigger impacts.

→ Company Politics: Startups generally offer more flexibility, whereas Fortune 500s often involve navigating complex hierarchies and processes.

→ Impact: Startups, apart from Unicorns, generally can’t create a huge impact on an industry, while Fortune 500 companies can have a tremendous impact. Adidas’s project “into the Metaverse” and Nike’s acquisition of RTKF in 2021 are great examples of this, demonstrating the significant impact they created in the Web3 industry.

The speedboat experience 🚤: working with tech startups

Working with tech startups is like riding a rollercoaster with no seatbelt (and I don’t say this in a negative way AT ALL 😅 ). First off, the speed is insane.

Decisions are made in the blink of an eye, and before you know it, you’re launching a new feature or pivoting the whole business model.

Second, these companies are usually the pioneers of Web3. They’re not afraid to take risks, push boundaries, and explore uncharted territories. It’s like being part of a modern-day gold rush, but instead of gold, we’re mining digital assets and opportunities.

When it comes to startups – and my experience is mainly dealing with tech providers – you’re not just an advisor; you’re a strategist, a problem-solver, and sometimes even a cheerleader. But hey, that’s what makes it exciting, right?

Now, let’s talk about the culture. When you’re advising startups, it’s less about corporate ladders and more about collective brainstorming. It’s a collaborative effort where everyone’s voice is heard, and the focus is on impact over hierarchy.

So, what’s the real scoop on startups?

🚤 Agility: Quick decision-making is the name of the game, and it’s exhilarating.

🚤 Innovation: These startups are constantly pushing the barriers, introducing new ideas that shape the Web3 landscape.

🚤 Resourcefulness: Limited funds, but unlimited creativity and a knack for problem-solving.

🚤 Culture: It’s a laid-back environment where everyone’s input matters and hierarchy takes a backseat.

Web3 is a game-changer here. It’s leveling the playing field, making it easier for creators, innovators, and doers to break through. The barriers are lower, and the opportunities are endless.

As you know, I just talk about stuff I experience, here’s a deep dive into a startup that highlights REALLY well what I said above.

Spotlight: Journee – A pioneer in Immersive Web

After diving into the world of startups that are pushing boundaries, let’s focus on a prime example: Journee.

Journee is on a mission to elevate our online experience. They’ve already partnered with industry giants like BMW, H&M, and Clinique to deliver outstanding immersive web applications.

Imagine a world where your online interactions aren’t confined to 2D screens or pixelated blocks. Instead, you can experience rich, three-dimensional environments. That’s the future Journee is crafting.

Journee’s core product, JourneeX, is a game-changer. It’s a user-friendly toolkit for crafting immersive web experiences. With intuitive templates and a straightforward dashboard, JourneeX is accessible to everyone, tech-savvy or not. And the best part? No need for downloads or extra hardware; it’s all about seamless, inclusive digital interactions.

By democratizing access to these digital realities, Journee is doing more than just innovating; they’re making the web a more inclusive space, open to everyone, regardless of their background or location.

Here’s your TL;DR:

→ High-quality immersion: Journee is taking us beyond 2D screens into rich, three-dimensional digital worlds.

→ User-friendly tech: With JourneeX, creating an immersive web experience is a breeze, no coding skills required.

 Seamless access: No downloads, no extra hardware, just smooth and inclusive digital interactions.

→ Democratizing the web: Journee is making these advanced digital experiences accessible to everyone.

The next chapter: My partnership with Journee

As usual, I keep it real with you: I recently teamed up with Journee as an Immersive Web & Growth Advisor (click here if you want to check the whole story)

From the moment I sat down with them, it was clear we were on the same page. We’re not just talking about tech; we’re talking about shaping the future of the web(3).

Their “Show, don’t tell” approach and vision for mainstream adoption of immersive web and Web3 technologies are right in line with mine. Together, we’re gearing up to take this industry by storm.

Hit me up here if you want to chat about how Journee can help your business enter the new era of the Immersive Web.

Pink Beanie + Journee

The cruise ship 🛳️: working with Fortune 500 companies

Switching gears, let’s talk about the Fortune 500s, the cruise ships in the sea of business. While it’s true they have substantial resources, it’s not always a free-for-all.

Especially when it comes to Web3, these giants are often in the learning phase, cautiously allocating resources to new tech ventures.

Navigating the corporate structure can feel like you’re in a labyrinth. There’s red tape, layers of approval, and a slower pace when it comes to innovation. But once you find your way, the scale of impact is like nothing else.

And let’s not forget the brand power. When a Fortune 500 steps into the Web3 arena, it’s not a ripple – it’s a tidal wave that helps bring mainstream attention to the space.

Alright, why should we care when a Fortune 500 jumps into Web3?

 🛳️ Resources: The sheer manpower and financial backing are like having a Swiss Army knife for business.

 🛳️ Scale: When a Fortune 500 makes a move, it’s felt across the entire industry.

 🛳️ Challenges: Navigating the corporate structure can be like solving a Rubik’s Cube, but the rewards are massive.

 🛳️ Recognition: Their brand power alone can bring Web3 to the forefront of mainstream consciousness.

“But I don’t like ‘the suits’”

Even today, part of the Web3 community still looks skeptically at big corporations entering the space.

But let’s be real: these giants have the global reach and consumer bases that can fast-track Web3’s mass adoption.

Companies like Nike, Starbucks, Gucci, and Volkswagen aren’t just “playing” in Web3; they have dedicated departments pushing innovations from within. So, while they might be “the suits“, they’re also the megaphones amplifying the Web3 message to the masses.

Spotlight: How Nike is sprinting ahead in Web3

Among the big names in the Web3 arena, one brand has been setting the pace: Nike. This isn’t a casual jog into the digital realm; it’s a full-on sprint to integrate Web3 into their core strategy.

Back in December-21, Nike’s acquisition of RTFKT, wasn’t just a headline-grabber; it was a strategic move that signaled their serious commitment to the digital collectibles and virtual worlds space.

This Web3 studio specializes in virtual sneakers and has been a pioneer in creating digital footwear as NFTs.

By bringing RTFKT into its portfolio, Nike didn’t just buy a company; they bought expertise, creativity, and more importantly, a thriving community in a market that’s all about disruption.

Fast forward to November-2022, we have .SWOOSH, Nike’s Web3 marketplace, where members can trade, collect, and even create new collections, earning royalties on sales. Plus, the platform offers real-world perks like access to exclusive events and the option to pre-order physical shoes.

Considering the strides Nike has already made, I’m stoked to see what they’ll pull off next. So, let’s break down why Nike’s Web3 initiatives are a game-changer:

Strategic acquisitions: The acquisition of RTFKT gave Nike a head start in the digital collectibles space.

Community building: .SWOOSH isn’t just a marketplace; it’s a platform that empowers its community to contribute to the brand’s future.

Real-world utility: Nike is bridging the gap between the virtual and the physical, offering real-world benefits to digital asset owners.

Mainstreaming Web3: With its brand power, Nike is positioned to bring Web3 technologies into the mainstream, making it more accessible.

Nike / Air Jordan / Converse / RTFKT

To wrap it up, keep your eyes on Nike. They’re not just setting the pace; they’re practically writing the playbook for how big brands can successfully navigate the Web3 universe.

With strategic acquisitions and community-driven platforms, they’re laying down the tracks for the rest of the industry to follow. It’s not just about running fast; it’s about running smart, and Nike is doing just that.

Most importantly, as I always say:


BorgoLabs + Insert-your-brand-here

Now, a quick moment to – as we say in Brazil – “sell my own fish🐠:

Whether you are (or work with/at) a tech provider startup trying to reach the next level, or a big brand that need a partner to guide you through the Web3 environment, BorgoLabs can help you.

In short, this is what BorgoLabs offers:

→ Expert-guided workshops: We’re talking about a deep dive into discovery, ideation, prototyping, and execution. We’re the brands’ co-pilots on this journey, making sure they’re not just following the trend but setting it.

→ Tailored strategies: With our team’s hands-on experience, we’re crafting Web3 strategies that actually work. No fluff, just actionable insights aimed at real business challenges.

→ Collaborative innovation: Through comprehensive online workshops, we’re sharing the knowledge and expertise brands need to truly adopt Web3.

If you feel we can join forces, drop us a message.

Pudgy Penguins killing with Web2 GTM strategy

We’ve been talking about the speedboats and cruise ships of the Web3 world – startups/tech providers and Fortune 500s, each with their own unique strengths.

But what happens when these worlds collide? Let’s dig in.

On one side, you’ve got Pudgy Penguins, a digital collectible series that’s more than just pixels on a screen. These are characters with backstories, personalities, and a community that rallies around them.

They’ve become one of the most recognized faces in the Web3 space. While the NFTs themselves might be out of reach for many due to their high price point, the physical toys are a different story. With a more accessible price tag at Walmart, they’re opening up a new avenue for people to engage with the brand.

Then there’s Walmart, the retail behemoth. With stores in nearly every corner of the U.S., Walmart’s reach is undeniable.

This partnership isn’t just a win for Pudgy Penguins; it might be a low-risk move for Walmart to “test the waters” when it comes to Web3-related products.

Their recent partnership will feature Pudgy Penguins’ physical collectibles in 2,000 Walmart stores across the U.S. But it’s not just about the toys; each purchase comes with a unique QR code that unlocks exclusive digital content and rewards on the Pudgy Penguins website and app.

Just as I was wrapping up this section, some hot news landed on my desk: Pudgy Toys are now also available in all Smyths Toy Stores across the United Kingdom.

Talk about global reach! This move comes hot on the heels of their U.S. launch and shows how Pudgy Penguins is expanding its field.

My two cents:

Look, it’s too early to say how successful this partnership will be, but let’s zoom out for a bit.

This is a great moment for everyone in the Web3 space. It’s like a proof of concept that shows how smaller, agile brands can leverage the resources and reach of Fortune 500 companies for mutual benefit.

So, keep your eyes peeled. The next time you’re strolling down a retail aisle, you might just spot a Pudgy Penguin staring back at you, and that’s when you’ll know – Web3 is a step closer to mass adoption.


Me every time I speak to a Web2 audience

Spreading the word

By hitting the button below, you’ll find a list of other newsletters that are on point with Web3, branding, and the digital landscape.

They’re worth a look if you’re into staying updated and getting different perspectives. Simple as that.

Last, but DEFINITELY not least

Before saying goodbye, I want to share something that’s close to my heart.

Whether you’re a founder just taking your first steps or a director at a Fortune 500 company (and shoutout to our diverse subscriber base that includes both!), you’re probably reading this because you’re considering a move into Web3—or have already made the leap.

And hey, I’ve noticed a growing number of you are moving toward Web3 advising roles.

So, let me share some concepts that have helped me navigate this wild ride as a full-time Web3 advisor, whether I’m dealing with tech providers or Fortune 500 giants.

My 5 rules to survive as a full-time Web3 advisor in this crazy-ever-changing market:

1) Dive Deep, No Fear: Web3 is vast and wild, but that’s where the magic happens. Embrace the unknown, and remember: every challenge faced is a level up.

2) Trust Your Path: Every twist, turn, win, or stumble in your journey has shaped you. Trust that. When in doubt, remember where you’ve been and use it to fuel where you’re going.

3) Never Be a D*ck: In the fast-paced world of Web3, genuine connections are gold. Cherish them. Whether it’s a past collab or a future partner, it’s the bonds you build that pave the way.

4) Go All In When You Believe: If something sparks that fire in you, commit fully. Don’t half-ass it; go all in and let that passion drive you.

And my favourite one:

5) Burn those boats, eliminate plan Bs, and chase that dream with everything you’ve got. Because when you’re all in, the universe takes notice.

All right, that’s the scoop for today. We’ve explored how startups and big brands can not only coexist but thrive in the Web3 space.

Before I sign off, remember: Web3 is not a spectator sport. It’s a playground for the curious, the brave, and the game-changers. So, don’t just stand on the sidelines; get in the game. Your next big move might just be a click or a call away.

See you next week!

Diego Borgo

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