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When Does Partnering Make Sense?

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What are you good at as a company? What are you not? Though we at TerraCycle (and I imagine you too) like to think we can do anything we set our minds to, we know what our core competencies are: Branding, materials science and repurposing, and post consumer collection programs.

Anything else, we can do it, but there are often others that do it better. And increasingly, we're happy to let them do it. Why expend a lot of energy trying to up our game in those areas, when we can instead focus on maximizing the amount of "waste" we collect, making the most people aware of the options we offer, and benefiting thousands of people who collect product for our brigades?

Take, for example, FAB. FAB has licenses for a huge variety of today's biggest pop culture brands: Paul Frank, Hello Kitty, Hannah Montana, Nickelodeon, Hello Kitty, Disney, Marvel, and so on. From backpacks to snow globes to "novelty clocks," their collective licensing and manufacturing might create an diverse array of products, cheaply and well. They'll make messenger bags, backpacks, stationary, school supplies, and home decor accessories for us, all out of what would otherwise now be sitting in a landfill somewhere.

Yak Pak makes everything from messenger bags to guitar totes, going on 20 years now. When it comes to making quality gear that has longevity, they're among the best. Now they'll be taking vinyl billboard material we collect and making messenger bags and backpacks out of them -- guaranteed for life. People trust our name to bring them a product with environmental integrity, and Yak Pak to make quality bags.

Our most recent potential partner is American Greetings. We'd like them to make TerraCycle Holiday by American Greetings. Just about any place in North America you see greeting cards and the things that go with them -- they're there, deeply ingrained in the gift-oriented retail landscape. In this case, we'd link them to waste we source and collect, and they'd turn it into bows, ribbons and gift bags. Again, it's the trust that our name imbues combined with the deep and wide reach of American Greetings that would be a powerful synergy.

Some of you may be saying to yourselves that this is a sensible approach, combining our skills and networks to maximize positive impact. Others may think we're making ourselves vulnerable by outsourcing production to others, giving our power away.

So where do you fall in this discussion? What's your company good at, and where could it be even stronger by finding others smarter, better, and faster than you? What other companies do you see TerraCycle partnering with?

Last updated: Jul 9, 2009




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