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Collaborate or Die

We safeguard our competitive edges. We hold our industry secrets close to the vest. We imagine a genius and picture this: an eccentric individual toiling in a laboratory, working alone. Even Nikola Tesla held the conviction that “originality thrives in seclusion.” And for all our good intentions, we’re wrong for it. The idea that genius or success springs from hyper-individualistic approaches or secrets couldn’t
be further from the truth. As time progresses, the results prove that collaboration between companies
spells success. Staying siloed in the 21st century might as well be the kiss of death. This has been the mantra of Vyla CEO Tim Taylor since he first stepped into the dairy industry in 2016. Somewhere
in every keynote speech, dinner presentation and on-farm visit Taylor will always take a moment to express his unwavering belief that technology alone can’t solve the industry’s challenges.

“A dairy industry united by a shared purpose — to tell the world that doing dairy is doing good — and empowered by the clarity and connection technology can provide is critical,” says Taylor from his cattle ranch in Colorado.
The benefits from cross-pollinating with other companies are wide-ranging. In marketing, collaborating
brands have been able to leverage the power of two brand stories to the benefit of both companies —
and appeal to younger consumers craving authenticity. Colgate toothpaste paired with Headspace,
the mindfulness app, to promote “self care through rituals.” With Headspace providing perfect tooth brushing meditations for users, healthy habits get built: daily meditation practices and consistent brushing routines. This is an example of two brands listening to customer needs and working together to bring new ideas into being.

Collaborative trends in business are sinking even deeper. Intra-industry collaboration has never been more fashionable. General Motors and Toyota are assembling automobiles together. Canon distributes
photocopiers to Kodak. As Harvard Business Review states, this type of direct “competitive collaboration” — joint ventures, outsourcing agreements, product licensing, cooperative research — sparks worry about long-term consequences. While the concern that one company weakens at the price of the other is valid, more often, both businesses receive a boost from the investment in the other. Like trees in a forest, businesses are stronger within interlocking ecosystems. Standing alone, the likelihood of failure or cataclysmic consequences only grows. In fact, evidence suggests that competitive collaboration and cooperation is a low-cost method to gain strategic technology and market access. The cost of creating new products is high. The struggle to penetrate new markets continues to be challenging. Banding together as a collective in this tough economic environment allows all parties to
benefit through the wedge that they form together into their desired market. This phenomenon, also
known as “coopetition,” has rewards long outstripping short-term victories. The Multidisciplinary Digital
Publishing Institute study on this subject found that this particular kind of collaborative competition, when it lasted from three to five years, “had more than a 50% chance of mutually reducing company costs.” The big tech players are already showing their cards on coopetition. Look no further than Amazon to see a huge example of competitive competition at play. With Amazon Marketplace, Amazon’s e-commerce third party selling platform, inviting smaller businesses to sell their wares alongside the corporation’s own products, both sides of the equation have profited. Small businesses have enjoyed the greater reach of Amazon’s consumer base and its popular platform, while profits from the small cuts off they receive from every transaction processed on their domain. How deep is their relationship now? Deep. 58% of Amazon’s net profits come from its third-party partners, showcasing that coopetition in the modern market is the market.

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At Vyla, we live and breathe the coopetition mission. Dairy is not only long overdue for a shakeup, but also the dawn of a new dairy is already here. The customer demand and demands have shifted, and there has never been a better time to embrace new ideas. Vyla’s Ascend community demonstrates a new way to do dairy with data. Vyla’s Elevate community exemplifies the way the dairy community needs to be — together. LUT University of Technology in Finland, Strategy and Innovation Professor Paavo Ritala emphasized this in her recent remarks to Forbes. “Nowadays, the best partner might be your direct competitor,” says Ritala. “With rising costs of R&D and globalizing competition, it often makes sense to collaborate with competitors on product development, innovation and joint manufacturing.” From our vantage point, we believe that Vyla’s Ascend platform is both the place and space for dairy to do collaborative innovation and work.

We believe that dairy should act as leaders in both ag and tech. With the biggest names in tech — the trendsetters of all industries — already participating in these models, at Vyla, we envision ourselves shoulder to shoulder with the giants. Samsung is supplying screens to Apple. YouTube and Vimeo share creators by allowing content creators to publish to both platforms simultaneously. Vimeo’s CEO Anjali Sud said it best at the 2019 Forbes Women Summit on coopetition: “What it unlocked was actually a totally new strategy for our company … one of the biggest value-adds in our product, and it all came from flipping the script in terms of how you think about whether someone is a competitor or a partner, and prioritizing the problem you want to solve.” At Vyla, we’ve got the roll-up-our-sleeves attitude. We’re ready for the change and to be the change. So we’re asking you this: are you ready to do dairy, together?