On-Line Service Aims To Match Entrepreneurs With Contract Manufacturers

Most entrepreneurs entering the food and beverage space rely on existing manufacturers to actually make their products. Now there’s an on-line business-to-business platform to help them find the perfect match.

By Kevin T. Higgins, retired Managing Editor

Beginning in April, Paartners.com offered start-ups and existing brand owners the opportunity to define the key attributes they’re looking for in a manufacturing partner, including their top five criteria, such as geographic location, and provide them with the most likely processors.

The system compares selection requirements to a database that currently includes several hundred copackers and contract manufacturers and generates a score indicating how closely those manufacturers match the brand owner’s needs. If the entrepreneur and the manufacturer agree to an introduction, the entrepreneur pays a $199 fee, and the until-then anonymous parties are introduced.

“LinkedIn has been our No. 1 source of lead generation for manufacturing partners,” says Elizabeth Pratt, CEO of Vancouver, B.C.-based Paartners.com. She and her father, James Pratt, a former food-manufacturing executive, began building the database last year, with aspirations of creating an international comanufacturing network, though currently its limit to the U.S. and Canada. About 50 manufacturing subcategories are represented.

To bring start-ups to the site, Paartners is connecting with food incubators, universities with pilot plants and organizations catering to entrepreneurs interested in food sales.

“It’s a very small industry,” Pratt observes, “but until you’re in it, it’s hard to break through.” By pre-vetting potential manufacturers and determining their payment terms, whether they allow surprise visits, and other considerations, she expects Paartners.com will connect companies that are serious about doing business together.