Startup Spotlight #185: Dog is Human
Dog is Human makes cleaner, better pet health products by combining human-grade ingredients with veterinary research.
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Kathan Mally is the co-founder of Dog is Human. His love of dogs and his background in venture capital inspired him to make a change in the pet health space. While at the University of Chicago, Kathan was roommates with his current co-founder (Tim Chen) and they immediately bonded over basketball and early-stage consumer start-ups. The two held internships at investment firms such as Seed 2 Growth Ventures and Blackstone but they both knew that they wanted to build something that they were both passionate about.
Over hundreds of ideas and iterations later, the two launched Dog is Human 9 months after graduating college and have since built a cult-like following of consumers that swear by the brand and their human-grade pet health mission.
Startup Spotlight: Dog is Human
Problem: The current pet health landscape consists of products that are mass-produced by large corporations and use cheap ingredients and fillers such as palm oil, rotten meat, and artificial flavoring. The better for you movement has already hit the pet food category but has yet to impact pet health products.
Market: There are approximately 90 million dogs owned in the US and the animal health market is expected to grow from 43 Billion to 76 billion dollars by 2030. 76% of Gen Z & Millennials own a pet, and on average are spending much more than their older counterparts.
Solution: Dog is Human is elevating the standards of pet health by making pet health human-grade, which means cleaner formulation and a higher level of care. We are creating cleaner, better pet health products by combining human-grade ingredients with veterinary research, and our ultimate focus is to elevate the entire pet health experience.
Team: My co-founder is Tim Chen. We went to the University of Chicago together and have started multiple businesses together in the past.
Mally: Our motto from the start was to build a “direct-to-community” brand and since our launch. We have made it our mission to make each customer feel as if they are joining a family. Before we even started selling our products we built a community on Instagram who all believed that their Dog “is” Human. We sent them stickers, wrote handwritten letters, and learned about their problems as dog parents, which eventually exponentially compounded into the rowdy audience we have today. In our eyes, the DiH community is the breathing identity of our brand and has been a great success.
Mally: A recent struggle we’ve been dealing with, like many other consumer brands, is supply chain issues. There are delays in shipments, vendors missing specific ingredients, and things that end up waiting at the ports all the time, especially given recent disruptions. Having not only a robust but efficient and quick supply chain is something we had to learn the hard way, as we sold more products than expected in our initial days. Thus, we had to spend a lot of time revamping our logistics and building a smarter inventory planning and management system to ensure we don’t continue to run into these issues as we scale. Putting all these moving parts into place and finding the right partners for a scalable infrastructure is a tedious and cumbersome task, but it’ll pay dividends in the long run.
Mally: Not all advice is good advice.
As a founder, there is constant noise around you. Incredible focus is imperative. Every business is fundamentally different with different customer bases, different business models, and a different mission. Be selective about the advice you take to heart, and then focus on what makes sense to you, and what works for you. If not, you’ll end up wasting more time trying to decide what advice to take, and would be better off without any advice at all.
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