It is remarkable when one considers the innovations that have quickly transferred from humans to our pets. Or is it? To start, 85 mil HH have dogs, yet only 35 mil have children. In fact, there are now roughly 108 million dogs in the U.S. which equates to 1 in three Americans owning a dog. Cats are up there as well at 79 million.

On average, Americans spend roughly $3.6 billion on their dogs every year. Babies R Us is out of business, while PetSmart expands. Even Amazon thought it was only fair that it introduces “Amazon Pet Day”, another excuse for us to splurge on our furry children. Amazon not just suggests what to buy, but the movies we can watch with Fido!

So, it truly is no wonder that the time span between “made for humans” and “made for pets” is getting smaller and smaller. Here are pet innovations that we are watching.

Bringing Human BioTech Successes to Pets
Courtesy of Animal Bioscience

ANIMAL BIOSCIENCE. This pre-commercialization start-up is still in the early stages of developing products to redefine aging for our pets. This Boston-based team is using learnings from human medicine in their proprietary oral formulation and are now collecting data on the mental and physical response in older dogs using wearable technology.

INVETX. This Boston-based start-up aims to become the leader in the novel veterinary biotherapeutics space by applying the most impactful advances in human biotechnology to transform animal health. According to the CEO, they are looking into treatments for osteoarthritis pain, allergies and cancer in dogs, cats and horses. 

Courtesy of Rejuvenate Bio

REJUVENATE BIO. Led by a Harvard Business School Fellow, this gene therapy start-up received funding to conduct a pilot study testing its technology’s efficacy in halting mitral valve disease, which strikes the majority of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels by age eight and causes heart failure. Following demonstration of efficacy, they hope to expand their treatment to all dog breeds, as more than 7 million dogs in the US suffer from mitral valve disease.

For these innovators, we may see pet advancements progress far faster than those for humans, since the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine generally only requires two tests be conducted, rather than the standard three for humans — and testing is less expensive than for humans.

Expanding Telehealth to Include Pets
Courtesy of Fuzzy

FUZZY. Fuzzy allows you to have virtual visits with your vet. With Covid encouraging virtual visits in almost every sector, this was an obvious one that makes sense on so many levels. It allows the vet to see your pet in the pet’s home environment where pets are much more comfortable and at ease, and it encourages early action and prevention, since it is much easier to schedule.

While this San Fran start-up began in 2016, the Fuzzy telehealth model really took off during Covid. For one, a lot of pets were adopted. From 2019-2021, roughly 48 million were adopted, but only about 5,000 vets entered the workforce, causing delays and stress for vets and pet parents alike.

Introducing Gut Health Testing to Pets

AnimalBiome. This 2016 San Fran start-up competes in the world of pet supplements. Thanks to the pandemic, sales of pet supplements increased 21% in 2020 to nearly $800 million, four times the sales growth in 2019. This has led to the category being flooded with hundreds of purveyors of pet supplements. It should be noted that none of these are regulated. What separates this organization is that it actually tests your dog’s or cat’s poop and then provides recommendations to balance your pet’s microbiome, if necessary. Most other manufacturers ask a few questions via their website and put the onus on the owner.

Taking a Dental Advancement from Grandma to Pets

Teef.  Founder Emily Stein unwittingly started her business when she biohacked a better way for her grandmother to take care of her teeth. Years later, when Emily adopted a shelter dog with gum disease, she realized that her prior discovery could easily be carried over to pets. This led to the founding of Primal Health and the launch of Teef. This line of powders to be added to a pet’s daily water helps increase good bacteria in the mouth to take over the bad bacteria, as well as block sugar and carbohydrate uptake. Considering that 80% of pets have gum disease by age 3 and that the vast majority of us do a lousy job of cleaning our pet’s teeth, this human-grade innovation is slated to make both pet parents and their fuzzy children smile.

There are many pet innovations, inspired by human learnings, that we may have missed. So, why did the above players rise to the top for us? Here are some factors that we look at when assessing an innovation:

·      Insight – What problem is this innovation solving for its target consumer?

·      Benefit – Is the problem being solved in a meaningful way? Will it motivate the target to take action?

·      Reason-to-Believe – What factor(s) makes this innovation uniquely believable and relevant to the consumer?

·      Market Size – Is the market large enough? Growing? What are the drags and drivers?

·      Organizational fit -   Is the innovation a strong strategic fit with the company? Do the competencies exist internally or via partners to executewith excellence?

Given these factors, is there one that we may have missed? Let us know of another rising star.

We love helping our clients find the hidden insights that lead to great innovation, especially when it involves our furry friends. Reach out if you’d like to hear more.

Annette Herz

Annette is skilled at identifying growth opportunities and successfully guiding products from concept to launch. At Compass, she advises leading brands and category disruptors in the health & beauty, personal care and home appliance sectors.

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