After New York-based entrepreneur Gabby Slome adopted her mixed breed pooch, Poncho, while traveling in Columbia, she was shocked at his rapid weight gain, despite that she was feeding him high-quality kibble. So she and her fellow pet lover colleagues Alex Douzet and Randy Jimenez got the idea to launch a unique dog food company called Ollie, which officially debuted on Oct. 5.
This is fresh, home-delivered, human-grade, vet-formulated food tailored to each dogs’ individual nutritional requirements, prepared in a USDA inspected and FDA regulated facility.
“Alex and I both had rescue dogs that were gaining a lot of weight,” Ollie CXO Gabby said, during a recent phone interview. “We were confused by the feeding guidelines on pet food packages. We are educated consumers. We didn’t understand until we started digging deeper. We wanted to give pet parents greater confidence in feeding their dogs. We were able to do this through a delivery and subscription model.”
As pet parents become more educated and savvy about their companion animals’ health and nutritional needs, and as pet obesity and food-related ailments are a growing concern, many humans are seeking more appropriate choices for their pets.
“What we found astonishing was a health epidemic among dogs in general; 60 percent are obese,” Gabby said. “Cancer rates are skyrocketing. No one was looking into the whys of this. Like the human world, the number one indicator is: what you eat affects your health.”
Gabby cited mass-produced product as a prime reason for the lack of nutritional value and, in some case, outright dangers inherent in popular pet foods.
“The major conglomerates own the pet food companies. There are many different channels that ingredients come through, based on profit models.”
She added that commercial pet foods may contain rendered ingredients, chicken meal, waste from the human food supply chain, wood chips, restaurant trash, grease, and even road kill.
“Even if they use good ingredients, they use so much processing that the foods come out in the end like cardboard,” she said. “Then they add a bunch of preservatives. It can sit for six months after production.”
Ollie works somewhat similarly to human home-delivered gourmet food services Blue Apron and Hello Fresh. However, there is no preparation involved.
“We are a refrigerated product,” Gabby explained. “It’s a low temperature cooked product that kills bacteria, but not nutrients. We use the process of MATH: modified atmosphere pressure packaging. This keeps fresh for up to two weeks in your fridge. We married a product company with a technology company. We ask dog owners about their pet’s weight, breed, age, allergies and other issues. We are able to do that at that level and be national.”
Ollie delivers weekly or bi-weekly in a package that contains the pet’s food, a tailored nutrition and feeding plan, and other tips for how to keep your dog healthy. Using customer data and feedback, Ollie constantly updates its formulas to ensure that each pet is always getting exactly the right portion, ingredients and food for their specific needs. The majority of the ingredients are sourced from the U.S.
“The meats are from U.S. family farms, and most of the fruits and veggies are from U.S. farms, while the chia seeds from Mexico,” Gabby said.
Meals start at $3 a day for small dogs, which is a small price to pay for convenience, and the health of your dog.
“People are busy and want the convenience of what they want shipped,” Gabby concluded. “It’s more convenient and a much healthier solution.”