Above: Petbrosia CEO Keith Johnson
Image Credit: Erica Zeldenberg/Petbrosia
Pet parenting is hard work, and it’s a $58 billion market in the U.S. Petbrosia is hoping to make life easier for pet parents and make life longer for pets by coming up with custom food that is suited to meet your pet’s specific nutritional needs.
“Studies have shown that better diet can help pets live two years longer,” said Keith Johnson, chief executive of Petbrosia in Cincinnati, Ohio, in an interview with VentureBeat. “Petbrosia designs the actual makeup of the food. You don’t give the same food to a toddler or a 200-pound adult. You change the mix of proteins and carbohydrates. That’s what Petbrosia does.”
The company asks visitors to fill out a survey form on its web site, listing things like the breed, allergies, sex, age, height, and weight of the animal. Then it automatically recommends a formula, mixes it in the warehouse, and has it boxed to go in about 20 minutes. It usually ships it out the same day. Johnson said the algorithm for recommendations is based on a lot of research, and it is the company’s secret sauce.
In 2014, the company grew its revenues about five-fold. Back in December, Petbrosia said it raised $1.5 million in the form of a $1.5 million commercial acceleration loan from the state of Ohio. It will use the money to expand its pet food e-commerce business.
Petbrosia competes with Petnet, which recently showed off a $250 smart feeder for cats and dogs at the 2015 International CES. Petnet also acquired SlimDoggy to gain access to a big pet-food database and proprietary technology for figuring out your pet’s dietary needs. But the market for pet food is fragmented, and it seems plenty big. It also needs some disruption that will modernize it, Johnson said.
The American Pet Products Association estimated that spending in the U.S. in 2014 hit $58.51 billion, up from $55.72 billion. An estimated 54 percent of pets are considered overweight. Johnson, a former Procter & Gamble brand marketer, said his company is targeting the high-end market of people who spend more on their pet food. The company uses only organic ingredients, and it doesn’t blend lower-quality foods into its recipes.
Subscription prices vary, but for an average-size dog, it costs about $35 a month.
“You spend about $1.75 a day, which frankly is less than what most people spend on their coffee drinks in a day,” Johnson said.
Right now, Petbrosia gets a lot of referrals from veterinarians through a formal partnership program. Those vets can write notes to the pet owners that they can use in creating special mixes. If your pet has special needs, you can note that in a comments section. For those orders, a human oversees the process. Petbrosia does not yet fulfill prescription diets.
That part of the process may not scale that well, but so far, only about 10 percent of the orders require that human oversight, Johnson said.
“We provide a way for vets to body conditioning recommendations into effect,” Johnson said.
Over time, Petbrosia plans to create a wellness hub for pets. Petbrosia wants to also tap into data gathered by wearable devices for pets as those come onto the market, Johnson said.
Petbrosia has 12 employees and it was founded in 2012. Rivals include food companies like Purina.