Diageo picks Kenyan start-up Wowzi for inaugural growth acceleration programme




Diageo has selected Wowzi, a Kenyan technology firm, to the first cohort of a global partnership lab named Fusion by Diageo, through its work with East African Breweries (EABL).

Fusion by Diageo aims to identify leading innovators to co-develop the next generation of digital products that will elevate consumer experiences. The first cohort is a 13-week programme (which began last month) designed for growth-stage start-ups and will provide participants with the coaching and industry expertise they need to develop concepts for digital products and services in collaboration with Diageo, EABL’s parent firm.

Wowzi is one of 17 digital outfits selected from hundreds of applications and will take part in the first edition themed ‘Celebrate at Home’ to explore how to transform the way consumers discover brands, connect, and socialize in their own spaces. The other companies in the first cohort are from the US, Singapore, Australia, the UK, Israel, and Ireland.

Founded in 2020, Wowzi is an influencer marketing platform that enables organisations such as EABL to work with a wide range of creators. Wowzi works by linking up brands with individuals who are willing to amplify their messages, enabling anybody to be an influencer and companies to reach their target audiences.

Fusion by Diageo aims to work with start-ups to create products that harness the latest technology to create unique experiences for consumers. Diageo is particularly excited about the potential to harness the latest technology to create highly individualised experiences for the home; whether using AI to hand-pick product recommendations, or the latest VR and AR technology to transform spaces, where everyone has a front-row seat.

The programme will be split into two phases, the first involving broad concept ideation and the second a refinement of the concept. The second phase will conclude with an in-person ‘Demo Day’, where Diageo will select up to five concepts to progress to a post programme pilot stage. During this stage, selected participants will be offered an opportunity to enter a commercial relationship with Diageo, and given the support required to co-develop, validate, refine, and launch new products in market.

Diageo’s Digital Hub Lead for Africa, Waithera Kabiru, said: “Fusion by Diageo is our way of being externally focused and looking beyond our boundaries to transform what we do in a consumer-centric way. I am excited to see Wowzi join the first cohort as we have already experienced their potential as a leading platform that is fueling the creator economy in Africa.”

Anne Joy Michira, EABL’s Marketing and Innovation Director, said: “With their vision and their work, Wowzi has brought a fresh new approach to digital marketing, streamlining the way brands can partner with content creators. We congratulate them on being selected for Fusion by Diageo and look forward to seeing their work scale across the world, and this begins with their participation in this global initiative.”

Co-founder and President of Wowzi, Mike Otieno, said: “As Wowzi becomes a part of Fusion by Diageo, we view this as a strategic move towards not just staying ahead of the curve but reshaping industry norms entirely by pushing the boundaries of digital innovation to set new standards for what’s achievable. Together with a dynamic collective of fellow innovators at Fusion, we are committed to ideate and innovate, to contribute to how Diageo sculpts the next wave of customer engagement to leave an enduring mark on the future of its customers’ experiences.”

The companies in the first cohort will get training, expert talks, one-to-one coaching, and the opportunity to connect, support and learn from one another and, in the process, create synergies and share knowledge.

East African Breweries PLC (EABL) is a regional player in beverage alcohol with an exceptional collection of brands across beer and spirits. Although EABL’s business is concentrated on three core markets of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, the firm’s products are sold in more than 10 countries across Africa and beyond.

EABL’s brands are an outstanding combination of local jewels and international premium spirits. These include among others Tusker, Guinness, Bell Lager, Serengeti Lager, Kenya Cane, Chrome Vodka, Johnnie Walker, Captain Morgan and Smirnoff.

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