The first Pets and Money summit this week brought pet entrepreneurs, industry experts and investors together at the Millennium Hotel in London.
Already a huge success in the States, organisers Kisaco Research decided to offer the same opportunities for brands here.
Twelve pet entrepreneurs were selected to take part in a ‘Best In Show’ spotlight, presenting to an audience of industry experts and potential investors.
Each gave a two minute presentation followed by a video showreel and set up education stands that people could visit throughout the day to learn more.
This a summary of the presentation from each of the 12 brands:
Hownd co-founder Mark spoke about their mission to create cruelty free, innovative, natural health and hygiene products to ensure our dogs are healthy, happy and safe.
Anna from Actijoy talked about how her dog Darwen inspired her to create a pet activity tracker to ‘help give them a voice,’ and show owners when they’re unwell.
Marco from Alphapet, an Ecommerce site in Germany, spoke about growing his food and pet accessories brand in the European market.
Mark from raw food brand Bella and Duke talked about the amazing health results his clients have reported following using their food.
Tadas from Dogo revealed they developed a dog training app as an alternative to books after struggling with their own rescue dog to find training sessions.
Food developers at Entoma highlighted the environmental impact of the demand for meat, for humans and pets, and how their insect protein pet food could reduce this.
James from K9Connectables told his destructive Labrador Sandy ATE his wedding album and inspired him to create a range of interactive, treat filled, puzzle toys.
Roman, founder of Mishiko explained how their tracker was like a ‘Fitbit for dogs,’ that could help owners vets, walkers and sitters maintain pet health.
Not forgetting the cats, Ali, founder of the Moggie smart collar explained how monitoring cat behaviour and routine could offer vital insights into their health and wellbeing.
Tanguy from Pawshake explained their pet sitting app provided an ‘alternative to the angry mother in law,’ by connecting pet parents with walkers and sitters they trust.
Mark from Pawsquad talked about their 24 hour telemedicine service for pets with vets diagnosing via video consultation or online chat, giving owners peace of mind.
Finally, Luiz from PetPlan spoke about the humanisation of pets in Spain and his plans to develop services for animals in Spain and Portugal.
As a journalist, I’ve been following the pet industry more closely for the last three years but the presentations at Pets and Money completely blew me away.
The word ‘disruption’ was used a lot. It’s a concept I’ve only really understood myself in the last three or four years after studying digital marketing and social media.
A disruptive brand is one that shakes up an industry, like Uber, which disrupted the taxi industry, and Airbnb, which completely changed the hotel industry.
There was also a lot of focus on millennials. By 2025, 75 per cent of the workforce will be millennials and this impacts on the pet industry.
As we’re living in smaller homes, it means we have smaller pets. Millennial owners are choosing smaller breeds and larger breed numbers are falling.
You only have to look at Instagram to see how popular Pugs, French Bulldogs and Dachshunds are to illustrate this.
Because we’re working longer hours, there’s a greater demand for pet care, and, once we are with our pet, our time together is precious and our pets are more pampered than ever.
So you can see why each of the brands is an attractive proposition.
Those with a focus on pet care like Pawshake and Dogo help us nurture for our pet and ensure they’re safe.
The boom in activity monitors four or so years ago for humans has led to us seeking the same health tracking gadgets for our pets like those provided by Actijoy, Mishiko and Moggie.
We want toys presenting challenges that enrich our pets like those from K9 Connectables and ethical grooming products that are kind to the environment and our pet’s hair and skin such as those developed by Hownd.
When it comes to nutrition, owners strive to give their pet the very best so they can live longer and be healthy.
Gone are the days of eating scraps and it’s why Bella and Duke are thriving and owners are considering alternatives like Entoma.
And as we turn to our smartphones for answers, it’s natural that telemedicine will be part of our pet’s lives.
Being able to speak to a vet at any time of the day or night through Pawsquad gives concerned owners reassurance without the stress of having to visit a surgery.
Chairman Nigel Baker, CEO of the Pet Industry Federation, said he predicted a growth in brands that focus on humanisation and premiumisation for 2019.
He noted as consumers, we have more of a social conscience and want to buy from brands who share our values.
Brands no longer need to get past the gatekeepers of traditional media – editors at newspapers, TV and radio stations – to reach their customers.
Social media lets pet entrepreneurs speak direct to their audience and start ups like Butternut Box with engaging back stories are thriving.
Thomas Meyer from FEDIAF who monitors market trends in Europe explained that the pet sector was one of the biggest markets for growth – nine per cent in five years.
What stood out most for him with the brands who were in the spotlight were those with a ‘why.’
People who have a passion that drives them and companies who have social responsibility.
He said: “I’m a big fan of Simon Sinek, he invented the concept of ‘why.’ Why are you doing this? What is your philosophy? People want to buy products from a responsible industry.
“People want to be part of a community of ethical values. You can’t just produce and sell, there must be something behind it.”
Tenzin Khangsar of True Leaf agrees. During a talk on Disruptive Technology and Trends in the Pet Industry, he said: “The people who started out with purpose are the most disruptive.
“It’s all about returning the love to our pets. If we were half the humans our dogs think we are, we would be a great planet.”
I’ve said how important it is to share ‘your story’ and ‘why’ over and over on this blog, and throughout my book, Publicity Tips for Pet Businesses.
And reassuringly, for myself and many of the delegates I spoke to, the brands that stood out were those with a story.
David Nolan and Kevin Glynn from Butternut Box told the extraordinary tale of how they came up with the idea of home cooked food for pets.
Both traders at Goldman Sachs, the two friends dreamed of running their own company and ‘kicked around’ a lot of daft ideas.
David’s mum had a Staffie, Rudy, she’d rescued from Battersea who had terrible wind as well as skin and eye problems, and when the vet said her diet could improve things, they decided to cook for her themselves.
“Almost immediately she was a different dog,” he said. For six years the family cooked for her every day.
One night after a 16 hour day David was so tired he couldn’t face cooking and turned to Google to find ‘home cooked dog food delivery,’ only to find it didn’t exist.
He ran the idea by Kevin, whose Labrador Ace needed ‘portion control’, and they started cooking in David’s mum’s kitchen.
Then trialled it on friends who loved it, then strangers who loved it, then realised they were on to something and left work in February 2016.
Butternut Box was born and Kevin and David cooked and hand delivered the first 250,000 meals in a white van, before raising capital to expand and ‘pay the rent.’
Word spread, mostly through fans on social media, and they moved to shared kitchen space, much to the relief of David’s mum, and now have a factory.
Every meal is still made with love and they have 55 staff.
Asked for his advice for start ups, David said: “Just keep going, you can get 99 ‘no’s’ but as long as one person believes in you, you’ll be ok.”
There’s so much opportunity in the pet world and it’s not easy to grow a pet business, or any business, but there is a lot of support and chances to collaborate.
I came away from Pets and Money feeling inspired and motivated and with so many stories too.
But my favourite has to be the one about Rudy the pumping Staffie and the million pound pet food!
If you’re interested in attending a Pets and Money event in future, visit petsandmoneysummiteu.com.
And if you’re a pet entrepreneur and would like more tips on ways to promote your business, click here.