Pets continue to be big business, and Alpha Paw is the latest to draw investor attention. The Austin-based company raised $5.2 million in Series A funding, led by Nordic Eye, after bootstrapping for the past three years.
CEO Ramon van Meer took over the company in 2018 via an acquisition and is working with his 11-year-old son, Victor. At the time, Alpha Paw was a small company developing pet ramps for dogs that had trouble jumping up or down from sofas. It was relaunched in 2019 in the pet wellness area.
“We have a vision of helping pets lead healthier and longer lives,” van Meer told TechCrunch. “We wanted to create wellness products, similar to our human lifestyles, and to keep healthy, it is about nutrition and supplements.”
Driven in part by the global pandemic, people spent more time with their pets in the past few years and a trend emerged of pet parents applying their ideas of health and wellness to their pets. Indeed, the global pet supplement market was valued at nearly $600 million in 2019 and poised to top $820 million by 2027. This comes as Americans spent nearly $100 billion on their pets last year, according to the American Pet Products Association.
Alpha Paw offers pet products for dogs and cats like food and supplements that are customized with pet breed in mind. There will soon be a subscription box service that includes food and nutritional supplementary toppings to mix in for ailments like allergies or hip and joint issues. The box will also include an edible item for dental care. And, since Alpha Paw knows the breed, weight of the pet and what the target weight should be, it will also include a personalized regime for daily exercise and play.
The company had $20 million in sales last year and is projected this year to do $35 million in sales, van Meer said. It is also about giving back: His son, Victor, is big on charity, and so for every product purchased, Alpha Paw donates meals to shelter dogs across the country. To date, it has donated more than 500,000 meals.
The new capital will fund customer acquisition growth, product expansion and general expansion, including internationally. It will also help to build up its community of pet parents on social media. Users have built breed-specific communities where they interact with each other, and ask questions of each other and veterinarians.
Peter Warnøe, general partner of Nordic Eye, said he was watching the pet industry for a while and saw it increase in valuation as more startups got into it.
“We all know the space has gone up since COVID, and most dogs live over a decade, so this is not a trend, but really something sustainable,” he added. “The industry is growing a lot because of the importance of dogs and the amount of dogs being added to families. Ramon’s track record in other businesses and what he has done here in two years, it was not hard to decide to invest.”