Santa Cruz pet food delivery start-up Ya Doggie expands nationwide
SANTA CRUZ – After a successful run in Santa Cruz, Ya Doggie founder Sol Lipman plans to expand his startup nationwide, attracting dog owners who want high-quality food for their pets.
Lipman, 43, said he had hundreds of customers paying $ 50 a month for healthy dog food shipped via FedEx before it ran out.
“I don’t think our dog food is expensive,” he said, noting that the price includes shipping. “I think our food is very valuable. “
He has three recipes, all grain free, which he gives to his own dogs, Ernie and Otis.
Lipman’s background is in technology – he founded RallyUp acquired by AOL and Tomfoolery acquired by Yahoo – so he has a veterinarian, David Schuman, as an advisor.
The start-up is small, only four people working full time, but Lipman said he hopes to shake up the dog food industry, which he says is “not about dog health – it aims to sell the most food “.
Dog and cat food sales represent a $ 31 billion market in the United States, according to EuroMonitor and online sales reached $ 1 billion last year.
Lipman said his friends and family funded Ya Doggie, with the support – he declined to say how many – of well-known names in Silicon Valley, Tim Armstrong of Oath, Jeff Bonforte of Yahoo and Jackie Reses of Square.
The problem Lipman set out to solve was that 54% of dogs were overweight, largely because family members were not following the trail.
“Dogs are incredibly cute and affectionate, and one way to show our love is to feed them,” he said, citing a study which found that dogs fed 25% less food than recommended live two more years.
His solution is a high-tech spoon – a Bluetooth Low Energy device that connects to your smartphone – for measuring dog food.
The “Smart Scoop” informs everyone in the household via a mobile app that the dog has been fed and keeps track of the amount of food left in the bag so that the next shipment arrives on time.
On the handle of the shovel is an LED that signals when you pick it up, either “green” meaning feed the dog, or “red” the dog is being fed.
In addition, Ya Doggie can customize an amount of food for each customer.
By selling directly to dog owners, the company collects information about each dog’s age, weight, activity level and goals to calculate that amount of feed.
Chelsea Cox and Mike Coover, among the first beta customers, discovered that their pets were thriving on Ya Doggie.
Lipman started with a duck protein recipe and found that his customers wanted more variety. Now he has a buffalo / duck, lamb and sweet potato and turkey with peas combo.
He also developed a “treat only” package at a lower price, two bags at $ 20 per month or four bags at $ 30.
To entice dog owners to try Ya Doggie, he offers a $ 1 welcome kit, test bag, treats, and a ball.
The Smart Scoop will retail for $ 40 to $ 50 when it ships later this year, but it will be free to anyone who signs up for Ya Doggie before the shipping date.
Lipman is hosting a launch party in San Francisco on Wednesday as TechCrunch Disrupt 2017 draws to a close.
He said he plans to target millennials and “focus more on cities,” but said his dog food can be shipped anywhere FedEx goes and social media can reach small towns as well as the tall.
What: Startup provides grain-free dog food on a monthly subscription; $ 50 per month to feed a 40-pound dog; three recipes buffalo-duck, lamb-sweet potato, turkey and peas. A new “smart scoop” alerts household members and tracks food left in the bag.
Headquarters: Santa Cruz.
Co-founders: Sol Lipman, Jacob Knobel and Davy Reynolds.
Company mascots: Ernie, a Labrador-husky mix, and Otis, an Anatolian-Pyrenees.