Preparing for Effective Engagement with Starbucks Corporation


About Starbucks Corporation (Global Corporation)

Starbucks is a “people” company.  They are not a “coffee” company; they are a company of “people who make coffee.”

  • They are “Relationship based” decision makers
  • Sourcing is based on relationships
  • They form relationships based on mission and values,
  • Conversations are on-going,
  • Development is a continuous process,
  • It doesn’t happen overnight,
  • They recognize it takes time and effort.  Be patient and persistent.
  • “Genuine moments of connection” can make a difference

They have to get to know you

  • What do you stand for – what are your values?
  • Who are you (your company) as people?
  • How do you mirror/align with Starbucks mission and values
  • Are your products/services aligned with their mission and values
  • How are you able to elevate their brand?
    • What can you do better and different for Starbucks that elevates their brand?
    • Does this also elevate your brand?
  • Are you staying relevant and innovative?
  • Do you have a proof of concept?

Doing Business with Starbucks

1. Be Prepared – how you “show up” determines your future as a diverse supplier:

  • Know your audience,
  • Know their company culture,
  • Know how they do things,
  • Know what they need.
    • Example:  When you apply for a job, you look for the keywords used by the recruiter and match the keywords in your resume or cover letter with those key words. Same as with finding a job and creating your resume, you should match your keywords with their keywords.

2. Do your research:

  • Keep up with what the company is up to
  • Pay attention to news about the company
  • Figure out how you fit into their business model
  • Know your competition

3. Know your value proposition

  • Learn how you can plug in your products/services to their line
  • Competitive pricing (but not necessarily the lowest bidder). Decisions are based on value: not the lowest bidder but what other value comes with the product/service
  • How does your added value compare to added value provided by your competitors?

4. Stay relevant

  • Relevant: What is in demand right now?
  • What are they looking for?
    • Note: they go through up to 500 emails per week and review hundreds of suppliers.  Their time is also limited and is wisely spent on what is relevant to their needs at the moment rather than what is not relevant or what is not in demand.
  • What specifically are you asking them to buy?
  • Do you have a specific product/service that they need?
  • Do you have something unique?

5. Do not sell everything

  • Understand what you are trying to win
  • Sell according to what the win is
  • Are you able to articulate how you are the best person (or company) for the job?

Supplier Diversity at Starbucks

Capabilities Statement - Tips

1. Know your audience

  • Know who you’re applying to
  • Do your research on the company
  • Make your statement relevant to their business

2. Share your story (they want to get to know you)

  • Who are you?
  • What do you do? (Say it succinctly, not a big long paragraph)
  • How do you do it? (Give them transparency). 
    • They want to know because they may need traceability of ingredients (where are your ingredients coming from),
    • they may want to look for ethical sourcing (if you are a manufacturer),
    • It helps the procurement officer leverage you to other decision makers
  • What makes you good at it? 
    • Provide your certifications
    • What awards did you win?
    • Who are your latest customers?
    • Give them some context around what you provided above
  • What is your value proposition?
    • You have to really know their business to come up with a relevant value proposition
    • Do you have a case study to prove it?
    • Give them a case study
    • 1-page case study
    • It doesn’t necessarily have to be words, it can be pictures
    • Give a case that is relevant to their business
    • Is the case study current? (Within the last 3 years)
  • What is your capacity?
    • Provide your scale or scope of business so they can leverage you according to your size
    • Where are you at today in your business? (Note: it is ok if you don’t want to grow beyond your current state, for example, if you just want to replace an existing client instead of achieving a goal of, say, $1 million)
    • Where do you want to be when you “grow up?”
    • What is your projection for 3-5 years?
    • Do you have a strategy behind that?
  • What’s going to make them pick up the phone and call you back?

Other Tips:

  • Reference time frame should be within the last 3-5 years
  • Be professional
  • Be very succinct.  Explain in simple terms.
  • Be creative
  • Accept feedback and follow advice to improve your capabilities statement
  • Use your fellow MBEs, use the other businesses around you,
  • Use the other members in your network to build your experience and your capabilities
  • Obtain feedback, learn from feedback and apply what you learned
  • Your capabilities statement should be no more than 8-10 pages (that doesn’t mean 8-10 pages of text)

Examples of Capabilities Statement

Know Your Fruit

IQ Bar

The Muffin Mam

The Piping Gourmets


The French Patisserie

Boo-Shaw Bakery

Universal Products

TKT Konnect