We supported the innovation team of Pentland Brands to identify 12 innovation challenges. Then we designed and delivered a bespoke venture ideation sprint to address them, and provided dedicated venture coaching so that 3 innovation ideas have been added to the development pipeline.


Pentland Group is a global brand management company with a family of brands in the sports, fitness and fashion markets. They are the owners of Speedo, Berghaus, Mitre, Ellesse, Canterbury of New Zealand and Kickers amongst many other brands.

Like any iconic business, Pentland aspires to be a work in progress that is constantly evolving with the times. Their ambitions are to innovate by launching new brands and ventures within the thriving sports, wellness, health and fitness domains. With a conscious understanding that consumer values and expectations as well as technological advancements in these areas are evolving at a rapid pace, Pentland knew that entrepreneurialism – and intrapreneurship -is one of the key ingredients to continuing to grow as a business.


Pentland asked us to foster innovation and identify growth opportunities for their brands while guiding internal talent to ideate propositions and pitch them to execs to get the green light to go ahead.

The objective was twofold:
-a to create a pipeline of internal ventures, small bets to be validated and explored for business model innovation
-b to foster intrapreneurship across the entire company, identifying entrepreneurial talent with the attitude to become future innovation leaders


We took a collaborative approach and commenced with a challenge workshop with the innovation leadership team to map out where Pentland Brands believe the future of sport, health and fitness lies. 

Below shows Studio Zao’s venture building process for Pentland Brands.

We collectively went through a series of challenge workshops which supported them to identify and prioritise the top 12 innovation challenges they wanted to solve for consumers. 

After having identified 12 challenges, we designed, organised and run a Disruption Day on the 5th of July.

During the Disruption Day, 60+ talented individuals from across the organisation came together in 12 pre-formed teams for a whole intensive and practical day of lean innovation. Each team was assigned a challenge, and 6 expert facilitators from Studio Zao were paired with two teams each, alongside 6 external entrepreneurs relevant to the challenges.

External entrepreneurs were sourced by Studio Zao by tapping into its international network of entrepreneurs and startups with the objective of bringing domain expertise and direct experience of a different way of working.

During the Disruption Day, 12 teams created action plans to validate their solutions to their Challenge. Studio Zao’s facilitators guided them through the following stages:

  • Understanding the challenge: Teams broke down their problem briefs and identified their customer segment
  • Value-chain mapping ideation: Teams were able to come up with solutions through individual and group brainstorming, and then selected the top ones to bring forward
  • Assumption mapping: Teams were able to map out their assumptions and understand which were the riskiest ones
  • Validation planning. Teams thought precisely about ideas to validate their assumptions, forming an experiment plan for the subsequent two months
  • Pitches. Teams prepared and rehearsed their pitches before delivering them, wrapping up the day

At the end of Disruption Day, each team had the opportunity to pitch their idea.

In July and August, a few teams grouped together forming a total of 9 ventures, and had the opportunity to test and validate their assumptions about customer segments and their problems through customer discovery. Then they have used the insights collected to get market validation and secure commitment. All teams have been supported by Studio Zao through one-to-one venture coaching

Finally, in September each team had the opportunity to pitch to the leadership team, including:

  • Chirag Patel – Chief Operating Officer, Pentland Brands
  • Gemma Carver – Digital & Innovation Director, Pentland Brands
  • Richard Newcombe, Global President, Footwear Division, Pentland Brands
  • Studio Zao partners
  • External Investors 

Each team’s objective was to either get the resources and time off from work to launch a pilot / develop a MVP, or to secure more time to continue with the customer discovery and market validation process.


Out of the nine final ventures:

3 ventures – have now a dedicated team with full and part-time members, recruited additional members and are in the process of building a MVP for their pilot. 

2 ventures – have received additional time for customer discovery and validation. 

2 ventures – were able to take away the valuable learnings from Studio Zao’s lean venture building process.

1 venture – pitch pending 

Pentland Brands also had the opportunity to spot and reward intrapreneurs among their talent. Employees experimented first hand how to solve the most pressing challenges with innovative solutions, received support and resources so that they could experience an immersive venture building process and execute actions and activities into meaningful propositions. 


”Studio Zao helped us identify consumer problems to solve in order to design and deliver a rapid innovation sprint followed by venture coaching 9 teams. They took us through a strategic and immersive venture building process. It was insightful to see how the teams’ propositions transformed through customer engagement and validation, with 3 propositions going forward into pilots and a number of entrepreneurial talents recognised in the business”

Emily HaynesHead of Incubation, Pentland Brands

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Join Pentland Brands to Shape the Future of Sports, Outdoor Apparel and Fashion

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