How personalised puppy chow brand Lyka is disrupting the pet food market
Pet ownership has skyrocketed since the beginning of the pandemic, and just as consumers have become more educated and wary about what they put into their own bodies, they’re also demanding more of the food they feed their four-legged best friends. Unsurprisingly, investors are starting to notice. In October, Lyka, a direct-to-consumer premium pet wellness brand, raised $30 million in series B funding through a mixture of equity and debt based off of its commitment to provide freshly pre
prepared and personalised diets for Australian dogs.
According to Lyka founder Anna Podolski, 40 per cent of Australia’s dogs are considered overweight, largely due to a discrepancy between how much they’re eating, the quality of the food and their level of activity.
“We use each dog’s biometric information – things like its age, breed and activity level – to determine the right portion size for their meals, and deliver them to the customers’ door,” Podolski told Inside Retail.
“It becomes a really helpful weight management tool, and makes it really easy for pet parents to manage.”
The business also makes supplements which are delivered as cubes of wholefoods that are combined to address specific needs of the dog – be that its skin, joints, or digestion.
Israeli entrepreneur Itai Tsidon, who led the company’s Series B raise, said the change in pet wellness was long overdue.
“It’s clear that the pet wellness industry has been held back for too long by complacency and sub-standard practices,” Tsidon said. “I’m really excited to be joining as an investor in Lyka.”
The goal of using the medicinal abilities of food to help Australian dogs lead happier and healthier lives started after Podolski’s own dog, named Lyka, suffered health issues relating to the food she was eating. After Podolski started making her own dog food and seeing the improvement it made in Lyka’s health, she realised she could help others improve their pets’ lives.
The cash injection will go towards increasing the business’ operational footprint, as well as growing its research and development to further challenge the status quo around how to look after pets. Dogs have the capacity to live up to 30 years, Podolski explained, but generally only reach the age of 16.
“Our mission is to close that gap,” she said.
Podolski isn’t alone in her enlightenment, either. Fellow premium pet food brand Scratch was born in 2019 when co-founders Mike Halligan and Doug Spiegelhauer decided they had had enough of the stranglehold big corporations held over the pet food market. Their own realisation followed a report by the Australian Senate that found nine dogs had been euthanised due to complications arising from poor quality food.
“Ninety per cent of our category is owned by the likes of Nestle or other international investment firms,” Halligan told Inside Retail earlier this year.
“It’s a really consolidated industry, it’s quite big, and nothing has really changed in a while. If you’re a dog owner, and you’re trying to do the best by your pet and trying to give your dog variety, there’s not a lot of it out there.”
This market consolidation has led entrepreneurs like Podolski, Halligan and Spiegelhauer to take matters into their own hands, and create the alternative that a new generation of pet parents want.
“During Covid we saw a really big influx of pets, particularly in the younger generations. They view these pets as their first child, which means they’ll go above and beyond to look after them,” Podolski said.
“They were also spending more time with their pets, and so were noticing issues that maybe would have gone unnoticed. I think what we’ve seen is an acceleration [towards] what good food looks like for pets, and there’s definitely been a shift towards brands that are made locally.
“We’re really fortunate to hear from our customers that our products are working, and that their dogs are seeing increased energy, better mobility, shinier coats and even better teeth. That’s what’s really driving our growth.”
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