If you are like us, you love your pets and would do pretty much anything for them. In the last five years, the number of pet-based businesses available to pet owners has soared with services such as Chewy.com and BarkBox coming on the market willingly taking our hard-earned cash to spoil our fur babies. Venture capitalists and entrepreneurs alike have recognized the potential in this $69 billion dollar industry and are going all in.
For entrepreneurs in this arena, the opportunities for funding are out there. Mars Petcare and Digital Ventures joined forces to establish the first pet care VC vehicle with a $100 venture fund and an accelerator specifically for businesses that are in the pet care innovation sphere such as health care, diagnostics, nutrition, and services. Stray Dog Capital entered the VC market as well. If you are passionate about finding alternatives to the use of animals in the food supply chain, Stray Dog Capital may be a fund to check on either for investment opportunities or for funding. They provide not only capital, but also business tools and guidance on how to help grow your startup and succeed in their mission which is aligned with the tenets of The Humane Society of the United States.
Pet Business Solutions (PBS Ventures) is yet another investment fund looking for innovative products and services designed to simplify pet living. They specifically help pet startups with marketing and capital to help them grow their business. In exchange for the time and talents of their team to get your pet-based business up and going, they get a stake in your company’s future success.
Setting the Stage
Over the past several years, many businesses have come onto the scene and taken advantage of the favorable funding climate and the untapped market. This January, Wag, a dog walking service, was able to secure $300 million in seed funding to help grow its business. Wag provides users with an on-demand dog walking app with live GPS tracking of your dog’s walk and an activity report after the walk to see important details every pet parent wants to know.
Chewy.com and BarkBox likewise have experienced successful seed funding and seen tremendous growth. Since 2013, Chewy has raised over $350 million in funding. BarkBox has raised over $81 million since 2012.
Closer to Home
In the Twin Cities, Pet Zone MN provides pet-based small business with a unique opportunity to sponsor and attend events that bring together people who love their pets, pet-related small businesses and pet rescues. Pet Zone is able to capitalize off of the new niche market of granddog spoiling, where the parents of adult age children spoil their kids pets almost as or worse than a human grandchildWith many millennials putting off having kids and instead opting to get pets, would-be grandparents have embraced the age of the dog and have “granddogs” instead of grandchildren. This has opened up a new niche market of individuals looking for all things pet from clothing and treats for the pets themselves to “Proud Dog Nana” t-shirts.
Sidewalk Dog is yet another example of a Minnesota-based business that was created “To promote thriving relationships between dogs, their people, and the community we share.” This website provides dog lovers with everything from a directory of dog-friendly restaurants to information on adopting a new furry friend. It offers pet-based non-profits free and discounted advertising on upcoming events. They also host online fundraisers and events with proceeds going to dog-friendly nonprofits.
If you are thinking of starting a pet-friendly business or if you have one that is thriving and are looking to take it to the next level, contact the pet-friendly attorneys at Avisen. They can help you identify what you need to get your startup up and running or take it to the next level by pursuing different funding opportunities such as venture capital.
For almost 20 years Kim Lowe has lawyered from the trenches. Kim lawyers from experience, using her knowledge of the law and understanding of how both for-profit and nonprofit business enterprises operate.
Rachell Henning is a third- year student at Mitchell-Hamline School of Law's innovative Hybrid program. Rachell is an Avisen Fellow who enjoys spending time with her husband and two young daughters when she is not working or studying.