You’ve matched with a co-man, and signed an NDA. Now what?
Time to schedule your Discovery Call!
Like dating, finding the right co-man isn’t just about finding someone who ticks all the right boxes. A good brand / co-man relationship is just that - a relationship. And this first meeting is all about setting the tone for your future partnership.
The goal of the discovery call is to discuss your needs to determine if your project aligns with their capabilities. It’s an overview of the project, so don’t worry if you don’t have all the specifics figured out. That being said, here are some key things to focus on during your first call.
Discovery Call topics
- Introduction and Background:
- Start by introducing yourself and your food brand. Provide a brief overview of your company's history, mission, and the product you're looking to manufacture. If you have past experience in the food industry, it’s helpful to share that now.
- Product Details:
- Clearly articulate the specifics of your food product. This should include its ingredients (aka raw materials), formulation, processing, packaging requirements, and any unique selling points or quality standards. Outline what you know, but it’s ok if there are things you’re unsure of or still deciding.
- Production Volume and Scaling Plans:
- Discuss your estimated production volumes, both for the initial runs and long-term plans. Manufacturers need to know if you intend to scale up production and whether they can accommodate your growth.
- Quality Standards and Specifications:
- Outline the quality and safety standards that must be met for your product. This includes any certifications (e.g., organic, kosher, gluten-free) and specific requirements for ingredient sourcing, handling, processing, and testing.
- Timeline and Deadlines:
- Clearly communicate your timeline, including product launch dates and any seasonal or time-sensitive considerations. Manufacturers need to know your expectations regarding production lead times, and how that can fit into their schedule.
- Cost and Pricing:
- Discuss your budget constraints and pricing expectations. Manufacturers will want to understand your cost structure to provide accurate quotes.
While this might seem like a lot of information to review, remember at this point that this is still top line. You need to give the co-man a broad overview of the project before diving into the nitty gritty in order to give them an opportunity to identify elements that might not work early on. There’s no need to dive into the specific packaging you’re looking for if your timelines don’t align.
If all seems in order and both parties want to move forward, you’ll want to wrap up the meeting with clear next steps
- Next Steps:
- Summarize the key points discussed during the call and outline the next steps in the process. This might include requesting a formal quote, arranging site visits, or setting up follow-up meetings.
- Follow-Up and Documentation:
- After the meeting, send a follow-up email that includes a recap of the discussion, action items, and any documents or information requested during the call (formulation, packaging specs, etc).
- Schedule Technical Review:
- This is where you will go into more depth about the product needs
There are a number of more niche topics you might not get to during the first call that you’ll want to be aware of moving forward. While most of these elements will apply to all brands, how much importance they hold will vary greatly. Those topics include:
- Logistics and Distribution:
- Explain your distribution strategy, including how and where you plan to distribute your product. This helps the manufacturer assess transportation and storage needs.
- Contractual and Legal Considerations:
- Mention any legal and contractual requirements, such as exclusivity agreements, intellectual property concerns, or liability issues. You may want to consult with legal counsel before discussing these matters in detail.
- Sampling and Testing:
- Inquire about the manufacturer's ability to provide product samples and conduct testing for quality assurance. This is essential to ensure your product meets your desired standards.
- Communication and Collaboration:
- Discuss how you plan to stay in touch and collaborate throughout the production process. Establish clear lines of communication and expectations.
- References and Past Projects:
- Request references or examples of similar projects the manufacturer has worked on. This can help you gauge their experience and track record.