Vol. 127 - NO. 39

Blog Startup CPG

SINCE 2019

Dos & Don’ts of
Working with a Co-manufacturer

Bri Makaric is the founder & CEO of BRITE bites, a shelf-stable probiotic snack bite company with a goal of making healthy food convenient & delicious. In this quick read, she shares what she has learned about co-manufacturing from her own entrepreneurial journey.

From starting a company in an apartment kitchen then working in a food trailer and an incubator to scaling to a co-man, I have seen a lot on the manufacturing side and have made countless mistakes; some of those mistakes were the most expensive mistakes I have made in my entrepreneurial journey. When you work with a co-man to make your product, you do lose a bit of control. But, if you have a good relationship with them, it shouldn’t feel like this at all. By outsourcing manufacturing, you have more time to focus on sales and marketing.

Below are some do’s and don’ts when working with a co-man only based on my own experiences.

My Top 3 Must Do’s:

  1. Be on site or have a team member on site for ALL production runs. You learn so much from seeing it in real time and you in fact know your product the best.
  2. Talk to references! Ask the co-man if they have any clients that would be willing to share their experiences.
  3. ASK Questions! Vet your options just like all situations even if you are in a situation where your business needs the co-man WAY more than they need you (been there). In this situation talk about your plans for growth and how you will scale your volumes.

My Top 3 Don’ts:

  1. Never produce products with them until you have a contract in place! Both parties need to agree on this and should feel comfortable with it! However do get confirmed pricing and costs and make sure this is in the contract
  2. Don’t let them push you around. Be honest with what your company needs and wants are and don’t let them persuade you to change things so that their job is easier. A good co-man will work together on these things!
  3. Watch out for certain clauses on exclusivity or royalties in perpetuity (payment continues forever). Make sure to review your contract with a lawyer and be very clear on pricing, payment schedule, terms, and delays.

Moving to a co-manufacturer was the biggest change I made thus far in my business and by far the most stressful, but I have learned a lot and am happy to share my advice with the Startup CPG community. Let me know your perspective in the comments below!

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