What Can Startups Learn from Corporations Regarding Disruption?

3 min read
22 Nov 2023

ommunication and media companies were the first to experience the profound digital disruption that is now affecting various sectors of the industry. At RBS, this movement has reinforced its delivery of the high-quality journalism, sports and entertainment that connect the people of Rio Grande do Sul. 

Claudio Toigo, RBS’s CEO since 2016, has been tackling the disruption challenge since he first took the position. “The media industry was one of the first to be disrupted, but business transformation remains a constant challenge,” he says. “To stay relevant for both society and our audience, we have to embrace transformation and be constantly looking out, adapting and evolving along with the market.” 

Within the Brazilian media industry, RBS stands out as a pioneer in implementing an innovative commercial performance model. With a consultative approach grounded in data-driven insights, the company places the customer at the center of its commercial strategy, focusing on understanding and meeting the unique needs of advertisers. RBS seamlessly integrates all its services into the market, ensuring a cohesive and comprehensive solution. “At first, we defined ourselves as a media group, but we go beyond that. After this essential understanding, we identified which value levers could be better managed in this relationship with customers,” he says. “We are a media group that understands how we can improve people’s lives through journalism, sport and entertainment in the communities where we live.”

Claudio Toigo, CEO at RBS — Photo by Raul Krebs

In 2022, for example, RBS introduced the Performance Desk, a specialized service focused on enhancing campaign efficiency through data analysis and agile processes. A multidisciplinary team closely monitors daily results and works diligently to identify the best communication mix for each customer’s challenge. While the channels may change and technologies evolve, its essence remains unchanged: the RBS team are communicators. Disruption is a way of leveling up its service offerings, expanding to audience segmentation and tailored content, and engaging commercial activations.

In RBS, digital transformation has taught valuable lessons in reviewing its internal culture. It has encouraged the group to redefine how it perceives mistakes, recognizing them as integral to evolution and learning, and embracing the ability to take bolder risks. For instance, in 2017, RBS embarked on a cobranding initiative by bringing together two of its strongest brands, Gaúcha and Zero Hora, to create a new GZH product. This digital newspaper combined the strengths and talents of both brands, offering a blend of paid and local content. Today, GZH boasts over 100,000 subscribers, and RBS continuously enhances its content and strategies by closely observing the consumer journey. “Today, we live in a world where attention is disputed, in any activity, and we managed to get more attention from the public,” Claudio says.

Disruption enables a new perspective. It allows us to change how we do things, opening our eyes to other possibilities and ways of delivering value.

To foster disruptive growth in the digital realm, RBS announced a new digital cycle for 2023. This comprehensive initiative encompasses structural changes, the development of new products, and efforts to cultivate and attract top talent. With the guidance of Meta, a Brazilian technology and innovation company based in Rio Grande do Sul, and in collaboration with the American Decoupling, RBS is meticulously reviewing and expanding its digital strategy to ensure even more impactful performance, with a specific focus on subscriptions and enhancing user experience.

Claudio Toigo, CEO at RBS — Photo by Raul Krebs

RBS firmly believes in the power of innovation and collaboration to drive development. In line with this belief, the company actively invests in partnerships, projects and initiatives that contribute to society based on these principles. As a media partner, RBS has been instrumental in fostering the innovation ecosystem in the state. It has been involved since the first edition of South Summit Brasil and is a founding member of Instituto Caldeira and Pacto pela Inovação. These initiatives, along with others in the state, receive significant exposure through the company’s editorial platforms, reinforcing Porto Alegre and Rio Grande do Sul as vibrant innovation hubs.

“I don’t think our transformation has ended,” Claudio says. “The transformation challenge must be constant; we don’t claim to have the answers for everything. From 2024 onwards, I hope we will start implementing a new execution cycle for RBS. We are very motivated with the possibilities that lie ahead.”

Claudio Toigo's most important tips for startups:

  • Generate value but don’t forget to capture value, too. Many startups have good ideas. Those that grow can generate and capture value, which might allow them to become mature companies. 
  • Remain obsessed with your customer’s problem (and don’t fall in love with your product). Falling in love with your product means you might overlook some of your customer’s problems. Fall in love with the problem instead, and that will help you generate value.
  • Remember that the problems will change. As you fall in love with your customer’s problem, remember there will be others, too. These might be more traditional: how to improve productivity, how to improve performance. Don’t overlook your growing pains. 
  • Be prepared to show results. Some startups can prove value generation but don’t have proof of sustainable value capture. You don’t need to have results on the first day, but you need to see how the solution will be able to generate value to return that capital. Otherwise, it’s not a problem for the fund or the investor, it’s a problem for the entrepreneur.