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What you do when you’ve already taken one e-commerce store to over $1 million in revenue and sold another, very successful one for a near-seven figure price?
For Ben and Camille Arneberg, the answer was to start Pet Honesty, which specializes in healthy pet treats. The business, which they started last year with one co-founder, went live with its first product in August 2018. It is on track for seven-figure revenue for its first 12 months, they say.
The avid dog lovers from Austin started the business—where the company dog “Chief” can be found roaming—because they spotted a gap in the highly competitive pet food marketplace. They couldn’t find the healthy pet treats they wanted to feed Chief or Atlas, Camille’s family dog, who lives with her parents.
“Many pet treats are really bad for dogs,” says Ben, pointing to the unhealthy fillers on the ingredient lists of many products. “As Americans are getting more health conscious, they are realizing ‘Why am I feeding my dog unhealthy foods? Why not give him a treat that will improve his life?’”
The Arnebergs have deep experience in e-commerce. They initially founded their Amazon store Willow & Everett, which sells high-end kitchen products, and grew it to more than $1 million in revenue within a year and four days of its launch. They went on to co-found CubeFit, a business that sells mats for people who use stand-up desks, with another couple. They sold that business to 101 Commerce in Austin for a price the investment firm’s CEO Richard Jalichandra said was “in the neighborhood of seven figures.”
With nearly 90 million dogs in the U.S., the married couple saw that the potential marketplace was huge. Camille could not help but notice the large groups of dog owners who gather in Austin’s parks every evening. “Sometimes 50 or 60 people are talking and socializing,” she says.
Given millennial consumers’ desire for healthy products, they concluded that it was worth venturing into a new market.
“Millennials are putting off having kids,” says Ben. “Their dogs are like their children.”
To launch the brand, the Arnebergs started out selling seven products and will be branching out to about eleven. Among their best sellers are “Advanced Hip and Joint Snacks,” with glucosamine and turmeric, which go for $39.95 for a 90-count package, and probiotic snacks, which sell for $24.99 for a 90-count package.
“We’re looking at the biggest pain points dogs suffer from,” says Ben. “We’re covering everything from skin allergies to coat issues. The products have to target those specific issues and have been made with good quality ingredients.”
They’ve also focused on becoming a resource to pet owners, aiming to personally answer questions on pet nutrition for customers within one hour.
“As things get more tech-heavy and automated, people want more simplicity and a personal touch,” says Camille.
The business also has a focus on giving back—to dog-related charities. The founders donate a portion of their profits to the site Austin Pets Alive, an animal shelter that works to save pets from euthanasia, and The Dog Alliance, which provides therapeutic dogs to help patients with post-traumatic stress disorder and other conditions. The Dog Alliance’s mission resonated with Ben, who served in the Air Force and saw many friends get called for active duty.
To benchmark their progress, the couple has set what Jim Collins calls a Big Hairy Audacious Goal: “We want to help 5 million dogs in five years,” says Ben.
They also want to help humans in need of companionship. “As everything becomes more automated, I think people are getting more lonely and finding it hard to find friends and relationships,” says Camille. “Dogs are incredible companions.”
April 30, 2019 at 08:15PM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs