As entrepreneurs, we all know the value and necessity of forming partnerships. Little would get done in the business world without a solid network to help grow our companies. Form an alliance with the right organization and your impact is amplified exponentially. But that begs a tough entrepreneurial question: Should a younger, cutting-edge company join forces with an established, more conventional company? It can be a slippery slope. Will the former company's values be in line with those of the latter? Whose mission and ideals will win out?
TerraCycle has recently wrestled with that problem, and because of our dedication to our to eliminating the idea of waste, we've decided to partner with a company that makes whole grain snacks and uses innovative new compostable packaging. They've also begun switching to alternative energy, forgoing the use of fossil fuel at one of their plants and relying on solar power. Worth noting, that partner is PepsiCo's Frito-Lay!
You've likely read that the Frito-Lay brand SunChips has made the switch to compostable packaging and solar power. In addition to these important steps, SunChips has also begun working with TerraCycle to provide a solution to the more traditional chip bags made from "hybrid" packaging. TerraCycle is now collecting both post-consumer and post-industrial chip bags and upcycling those non-recyclable materials into consumer products or into our still-in-development green building materials initiative.
Through this relationship, TerraCycle is reaching a wider audience than it could on our own -- helping to support our mission to make the greatest possible impact on the world. By partnering with Frito-Lay, we enable ourselves to collect and reuse the most possible chip bags and are able to call upon the extensive resources and expertise of Frito-Lay.
So here is my question for the Inc. community: Do you think partnering with much larger corporations is a good, bad, or indifferent idea for young companies? What are the advantages or disadvantages you have experienced or would expect? TerraCycle's experience working with Frito-Lay and other major CPG companies has been wildly positive, but I wonder if everyone has the same experience. I would love to hear about yours.
Last updated: Jun 10, 2009
TOM SZAKY is the founder of TerraCycle, a New Jersey based company that makes fertilizer using worms and produces retail products from recycled goods. The firm was started while he was a student at Princeton University. Tom was named "The No. 1 CEO Under Thirty" by Inc. magazine in its July 2006 issue.