Photography by: PetPlate, unless noted
Our health is always at the forefront of our minds—we go to yoga classes, drink green juice, and read self- help books. The wellness industry encompasses so much, in fact, that the market is projected to grow
even higher than its current $4.2 trillion value in the coming years. That’s a pretty significant amount considering how much the industry is already worth. This includes everything from personal care like beauty and antiaging products to nutrition and fitness. But what about the well-being of our four-legged friends? Their wellness is important, too!
Renaldo Webb, a Shark Tank alum, saw the need for a more nutritious bowl of food for his dog than what was out there, so he created his own company in 2016 that sought to fulfill this need. After all, if he felt his dog was lacking options for a healthy meal, other dogs must be, too. PetPlate is a direct-to-consumer dog food delivery service that offers personalized food for your pooch based on breed, weight, body condition, and activity level. The meals are made with fresh-cooked and USDA-approved fruits, veggies, and meats. Here Webb discusses his journey from student to teacher in the pet food industry, dives into what makes PetPlate different, and shares his future plans for the next chapter of the company.
What did you study in school? How did you eventually land in the pet food industry?
I studied physics at MIT and did not plan on ever starting a pet food company. However, after college I became a consultant for a variety of industries, including the pet food industry. After spending a few years helping different companies, I realized that it was possible to feed our pets better food made from better ingredients. I started PetPlate because I wanted to feed something healthier to my dog, Winston. I was unimpressed by the ingredients going into the food made by the companies I consulted for, so I decided to start a company that only used human-grade ingredients.
I built general business skills across strategy, supply chain, and finance. I also started teaching myself how to code, as I was primarily interested in starting internet-based businesses. Unfortunately, I struggled initially to get a business off the ground because I couldn’t settle on an idea. Eventually, I found one I was excited about that had a ton of potential: PetPlate.
Were there challenges at the beginning? What did you learn from your experience on Shark Tank?
Starting PetPlate was difficult at first because I needed to create the product and the website and build the team. It took many years to get PetPlate to where it is today, but Shark Tank was an amazing experience that helped me evolve as an entrepreneur. I first pitched to be on Shark Tank on a whim, and I was fortunate enough to be selected. Quickly after that, I began working with procedures to hone my pitch, and it required me to dive into why I thought PetPlate could disrupt the pet food industry. I spent a lot of time working on my pitch while in LA for filming, but, unfortunately, I failed after forty-five minutes of trying to convince the Sharks of PetPlate’s potential. Luckily for me, the true judge of the company’s viability was consumer interest, and the response was extremely strong to my episode. This brought in a ton of new pet parents.
Being on Shark Tank served as a launching point for the brand, and we quickly went from a New York City-based company to shipping nationwide. We saw amazing feedback, which led to strong retention and thousands of happy pups. This success must have caught the Shark Tank team’s attention, and I was invited back to share how the business had grown. Personally, it was cathartic for me to tell my success story and to see how far we came in a few short years.
How exactly has PetPlate grown?
It started out in a commercial kitchen in 2016, and I delivered most of the meals myself by bike. Now we’ve shipped over ten million meals to over three hundred dog breeds across the entire continental United States!
What makes PetPlate nutritious?
All our meals are formulated by our veterinary nutritionist, guaranteeing that they are nutritious and balanced for dogs. In addition, all our ingredients are human-grade, ensuring your pups are receiving high-quality ingredients that are more digestible than the typical feed-grade ingredients found in pet food.
PetPlate is centered on customer feedback. Was this always something you wanted the company to focus on?
Yes. PetPlate has always been about the customer. We technically have two customers we need feedback from: the pet and the pet parent. It’s our goal to make sure both love the food and the experience.
How did your own dog, Winston, influence PetPlate?
Winston influenced PetPlate by being our first taste tester and by giving me a reason to wonder if there was a better way to feed him.
What overall tips do you have for pet owners to keep their pet healthy?
The most important thing pet owners can do is pay attention to their food. Pet parents should know the ingredients in their pets’ diet and know how much to feed their pet to ensure they maintain a healthy weight. Doing that alone will add years to your pet’s life, but keeping them physically active by doing long walks will help as well.
What are your most popular items?
Our beef and chicken meals are our most popular, but dogs love them all!
What plans do you have for the future of PetPlate?
PetPlate is continuing to quickly scale by acquiring new customers and launching new products. Being a direct-to-consumer brand puts us in direct contact with our customers, and we’ve been able to use their feedback to devise our future product road map. Our customer feedback has led us to launching our first line of treats, Organic Chicken Apple Sausage Bites, and they’ve been a hit. In addition, we get feedback from our customers that they would like lines of high-quality and great-tasting supplements for their dogs. These supplements will help their pets’ health needs including digestive, skin, and mobility issues. Finally, we’ll continue to add new, exotic flavors with exciting and functional ingredients.
for more info visit petplate.com