If you want to work at the Farmer’s Dog, the fresh made and personalised meal delivery service for dogs, you have to be prepared to do one thing first — eat the dog chow. This might seem like a ghastly test, but the Brooklyn startup thinks it’s important to emphasise that the food they make is safe for humans, and so by default, safe for a human’s four-legged friend too.
“It’s fun think about the food being safe enough to eat, so you may as well try it,” says Jonathan Regev, a cofounder of Farmer’s Dog. But, he adds, “people are usually disappointed by how bland it is, it’s just meat and vegetables.”
Regev and his co-founder Brett Podolsky got their start after Podolsky’s dog, Jada, needed home cooked food to stay healthy. Making meals that were nutritionally balanced enough to keep the vet happy was tough and time consuming. Podolsky was willing to do it for a short time, but realised others might not be despite their desire to feed Fido a fresh dinner.
Their service is a little like a subscription meal service — think BlueApron, but for dogs. Customers order as many meals per week for delivery as they need, with each meal based on a questionnaire that takes into account the hound’s health and size.
As it turns out, dogs are the perfect subscription customers — they eat like clockwork and aren’t too picky about what their meal looks or tastes like. The important thing is that the food is fresh and healthy.
The duo launched in beta mode in 2014, and in May of 2017 raised $US8.1 million in Series A funding in a round led by Shasta Ventures with participation from Forerunner Ventures, Collaborative Fund, and SV Angel.
“We forget dogs are animals, and for some reason we’ve been conditioned to feed them small processed balls from a factory,” says Regev.
The meals, which are prepared at a facility in upstate New York, are made from meat and vegetables and can last up to a week. The team works with vets to make sure the meals contain the proper levels of vitamins.
Their timing is spot on — Americans are spending more than ever on their furry friends and what they eat. The American Pet Products Association estimates people will spend $US29.69 billion on pet food in 2017, up from $US21.57 billion in 2013. A lot of that spending is the result of an increased interest in high-end premium food.
“Right now you have really cheap processed food and then really expensive processed food,” Regev says. He and Podolsky think the market will shift away from really expensive processed food, and be replaced with fresh meals like the Farmer’s Dog.
The duo plans to be there when it does. Regev said they don’t have a specific growth goal in mind, they are just passionate about making the fresh food as widely accessible as possible. They have seen the difference it makes in their own dogs, and are excited about getting people to shift away from factory made kibble to food that’s cooked with ingredients good enough for humans.