Natarajan “Venkat” Venkatakrishnan is Starbucks senior vice president, Partner and Customer Solutions. He leads the technical and business teams responsible for food and beverage equipment as well as consumer and supply chain packaging. Venkat founded and directs the Tryer Center, Starbucks innovation incubator, where he and his team create and validate new technologies for Starbucks retail stores.
Venkat, who started with Starbucks in 2017 as the vice president of engineering for Equipment before assuming his current role in 2022, led the construction of the Tryer Center space in 2018 and co-created its operating model with Starbucks partners across the enterprise. His team is responsible for the design and deployment of new espresso machines, cooking ovens, cold brewers and new packaging innovation. This has been instrumental in creating one of the largest internet-based food and beverage equipment systems in the retail industry.
Prior to Starbucks, Venkat worked with General Electric Company for 20 years in Corporate Research, Mergers & Acquisitions and Advanced Technologies Development with responsibilities for technology and intellectual property strategy. While at GE Appliances, Venkat also founded and led two GE Appliances-funded startups, FirstBuild & Giddy, where he pioneered the use of internal innovation incubation and social product development for early product validation. Prior to GE Appliances, Venkat held roles at Ford India and Eicher Mitsubishi.
Venkat has a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Chennai, India and has more that 50 patent filings across a range of industries and applications.
Venkat and his wife, Chitra, have two sons and a husky mix, Bean. In his spare time, Venkat enjoys running and being lectured to about politics by his younger son and web3 by his older son. As a family, they love traveling and gardening. His favorite espresso beverage is Starbucks Oatmilk Latte.