Inspiring community through partnerships with Zero Co Founder Mike Smith

Mike Smith shares how the Zero Co team leveraged partnerships and the platform to grow it’s community. Uncover the ways to nurture a thriving community for success.

community partnerships
Matt Moore
Matt Moore
Associate Manager of Product Marketing
Read time: 6 mins

The partnership life cycle is about more than just individual sales. With eye-catching content and talented publishers on your side, brands can build communities that last. 

Plus, most consumers (64 percent) appreciate brands promoting their values. Sharing long-term roadmap or sustainability milestones helps customers engage with your larger goals. This authentic openness highlights your unique brand identity and separates you from the competition. 
Some brands wear their values on their sleeves—ensuring people are informed and inspired at every stage of the customer journey. Zero Co is a perfect example.

Zero Co app partnerships

Key takeaways 

  • Brands can promote their values and build lasting communities through purposeful partnerships
  • Thriving communities optimize brands for success and make ambitious initiatives possible by growing their partner network. 
  • The right partnership management platform with innovative tools and features helps power community building. 
  • A diverse partner mix broadens your customer base and creates strong connections.
  • Access to customizable payment and reward options makes turning happy customers into ambassadors easier.

How Zero Co sees community

Founded in 2019, Zero Co is an Australian brand focusing on sustainability. Customers shop a range of personal care and home cleaning products. On top of promoting refillable bottles and eco-friendly products, the team aims to reduce plastic waste and help “untrash” the ocean. Currently, Zero Co has already stopped more than two million water bottles worth of plastic from ending up in landfills.

Zero Co’s founder, Mike Smith, sees the customer base as more than simply consumers. The brand strives to nurture a community that champions sustainability and the Zero Co mission: 

“We’re on a mission to solve the global single-use plastic problem…So that’s what our business set out to do: to solve the plastic problem at both ends of the supply chain.” 

Zero Co Australia
Zero co Australia

Smith and his team inspire and inform people by taking a positive spin on the plastic waste problem:

“We never talk about the problem. Let’s just talk about the solution. And, if you can make people smile, or better yet, have a laugh while you’re talking about doing something good for the planet—you’ve got a better chance of engaging them over the long term.” 

Healthy community engagement lies at the core of Zero Co’s success and future goals—and partnerships with publishers and content creators play a vital role. Regardless of your brand’s long-term mission or priorities, boosting community through partnerships will help you get there.  

What are the benefits of creating communities

Thriving communities empower brands to punch above their weight—especially companies with smaller teams. The mighty ten-person team at Zero Co built a passionate customer base and envisioned Smith’s goal from the start:

“Startup founders can build communities, engage, and inspire people from everyday walks of life to make small changes in their daily buying and consumption habits that will add up to a big impact on the planet. So from day one, we’ve been building a community.” 

Zero Co made this a reality through consistent brand messaging, purposeful partnerships, and intentional community building. The sustainability-focused brand has found ways to bring their vision to life and spread brand awareness simultaneously.

  • The Zero Co “Sustainable Schools” initiative enabled schools to sign-up for fundraising pages and earn $40 for every Zero Co purchase. With milestones set along the way, Zero Co’s team pledged to remove 1kg of plastic from the ocean for every AU$10 raised on the school’s behalf. 

These Sustainable School programs encourage future generations to join the cause by simultaneously promoting Zero Co’s sustainable products and cleanup efforts. 

  • Zero Co also created the “Sustainable Stays” program, partnering with short-term rentals across Australia. Hosts could use discounts and incentives to stock properties with Zero Co’s refillable household products and healthy body care items. 

Sustainable Stays works on many levels: cutting waste and introducing Zero Co to new potential customers. 

Happy customers become ambassadors when your message is clear, tied in with your products, and shared effectively. On top of promotions from talented content creators and influencers, many inspired customers will keep sharing your message through natural word-of-mouth (in-person or on social media). 

Happy customers become ambassadors

Genuine community building expands your network and makes ambitious initiatives possible—raising your ROI and making your long-term goals a reality.

3 ways to boost growth through your community partnerships

Community building offers fantastic brand upsides. Set your brand up for success by closely examining how other community builders keep growing and what connects with your ideal customer base. These three ways will help kickstart community growth and get the ball rolling.

1. Scale up with the right partnership management platform

It’s tough to have a big impact without proper software and support—particularly as a small team. Zero Co’s team collaborated with, relying on the purpose-built partnership management platform to underpin its outreach strategy. 

The platform helped Zero Co optimize performance and track each step of the community-building process. With the right platform, brands benefit from expert support and powerful automation, tracking, and reporting tools.

How to grow with community partnerships

2. Diversify and streamline partnerships

Zero Co used’s discovery, verification, and recruitment tools to find great partners—simultaneously cutting down customer acquisition costs. Tapping into a diverse partner mix broadens your customer base and builds a strong brand community. 

partnership marketing platform
community partnerships managed on

A partnership platform that streamlines contracting and onboarding empowers your partners to hit the ground running and start inspiring audiences immediately.

3. Make it easy to jump onboard

The robust platform helped Zero Co make collaboration available to everyone. Customers turned ambassadors shared in on the brand’s profits by getting financial incentives and deals for positive advocacy. Instead of investing in outdated, traditional advertising methods, the team rewarded consumers for their support. 

By thinking outside the box and taking advantage of’s customizable payment options, Zero Co continues to build a healthy community of happy customers, influencers, and partners. With the right partnership management platform, you can connect with compatible partners and start a word-of-mouth wave.


How Zero Co makes a difference through community efforts

“The ultimate ambition is to pull 15 million water bottles worth of rubbish outta the natural environment every year.”  Mike Smith, Zero Co-Founder
Zero Co’s community keeps inspiring them to think big. The Aussie brand started the 100 YR Cleanup plan—committing to removing waste from the planet over the next century. On top of their general yearly cleanup goals, Zero Co’s team has major initiatives planned in the Himalayas, under the oceans worldwide, and on beaches across Australia and Indonesia.

community cleanup project
community cleanup project

Recently, Zero Co completed the first step: cleaning up the Nile river in Egypt and drawing global attention to the dangers of plastic waste. The team went into action:

  • Sending out targeted emails with calls to action and fundraising links
  • Collaborating on a closed Facebook group of brand shareholders (over 3,500 customers who became brand ambassadors). 
  • Setting up engaging live feeds of Zero Co’s cleanup efforts and “plastic pyramid” built from the waste. 
community cleaning the nile river
zero co cleanup project

Zero Co’s campaign in Egypt drew worldwide attention and resulted in over a million water bottles pulled from the Nile river.

Growing your brand community with

Without’s flexible management tools and tracking features, these diverse partnerships would’ve struggled to get off the ground. This collaboration helped Zero Co smash their goals—saving time, optimizing processes, and planning bold future endeavors. 

If you want to turn your customer base into a thriving community, start on the best possible foundation. The platform will help scale up sustainably, driving brand growth and achieving ambitious goals. 

Our team of partnership experts can help you get started today!

Learn more with these insightful resources:

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