Healthier Pet Meal Options with PetPlate
MIT graduate Renaldo Webb turned the dog food industry upside down with the launch of PetPlate, the country’s largest fresh dog food giant. PetPlate makes it easy for pet parents to feed their pets with love by delivering them freshly prepared meals from healthy ingredients that are free of by-products, melted meat, or preservatives. Meals are designed by a veterinary nutritionist for optimal nutritional balance and are pre-portioned and ready to serve. The company offers a convenient subscription service that automatically and regularly ships meals directly to the consumer.
Tammy Gibson: What inspired you to start your business, PetPlate?
Renaldo Webb: I started PetPlate after spending time as a consultant in the pet food industry. I saw the ingredients go into the premium food they made and how the kibble was made. I experienced firsthand the high and intense cooking temperature and the process used to make standard dog food. I realized that the business was not helping to improve the health and well-being of my pets. That’s when I decided I wanted to feed my pet better. I started to cook for my dogs in order to improve their health. For me, premium dog food was a better option from a healthy and practical standpoint, and there were pet parents across the country who probably felt the same. Based on this, I had enough conviction to quit my job and start cycling around New York City delivering dog food.
TG: What was your experience on Shark Tank?
RW: Being on Shark Tank was a surreal experience. I was on the show in June 2016. The first episode aired in December 2016. At the time, I was trying to raise capital. For African Americans, it is an unfortunate struggle to properly capitalize businesses to grow and thrive. I saw Shark Tank as an opportunity to introduce PetPlate and to work with interesting people.
It was really interesting to find land and fly to Los Angeles. It all happened so fast. I won the pitch competition and participated in Shark Tank. For 45 minutes, I answered questions on PetPlate with sharks. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a deal, but we were able to keep improving and growing the business. The advertisement of being on Shark Tank catapulted PetPlate to a top position.
Shark Tank has invited us back for an update. PetPlate was one of two companies that updated the business even though we didn’t get a deal.
TG: What did you learn from being on Shark Tank?
RW: I learned that I had to show how the business could change and grow over time. Thinking about how to build a supply chain, a scalable infrastructure that could support rapid growth is what interests investors as they need to make a return on their investments.
TG: What makes PetPlate unique and different from other competitors?
RW: PetPlate is one of the few companies that offers a meal plan for your dog. When you visit our website, we have a 2-3 minute quiz to complete, which will present you with a meal plan that will let you know exactly how many calories to feed your dog. Each meal plan comes with re-sealable, microwave-safe and recyclable pre-serving containers. Each container holds two meals of food. You give your dog half the food in the morning and the other half in the evening.
PetPlate has six amazing flavors, two of which are therapeutic in nature. We also have organic treats and supplements. You can mix and match in any combination you want in terms of meal plans. We also ship directly to your door.
PetPlate is the most convenient way to feed your dog high quality food. We are present in various pet stores in the Chicagoland region, which has been exciting to see the growth of this aspect of our business.
TG: What’s been the most empowering and rewarding part of being an African American in the dog food industry?
RW: Bringing a sense of diversity and awareness to what is largely a white male dominated space. Being African American in this business has been difficult in the process of raising capital. Less than 1% of all venture capital funds go to African American founders. I have been fortunate to have been able to find excellent partners to help PetPlate continue to grow, evolve and invest. But it hasn’t always been easy.
What’s been great about being an example of what can happen when you have a great idea, you work hard, and you are dedicated and committed to your customers.
TG: What advice would you give to an aspiring entrepreneur looking to get into the pet food industry?
RW: Identify a problem you have and a solution. Are you good enough and convincing enough in your solution to sell it to other people? This is advice I would give to an entrepreneur in any industry.
TG: Where do you see PetPlate in the future?
RW: Over the next 5-10 years, my goal is to build awareness of human grade pet food and make PetPlate a household name.
To learn more about PetPlate, visit https://www.petplate.com/
Tammy Gibson is a traveler and black history author. Find her on social networks @SankofaTravelHr