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AskPickles: Richard White

Richard White started AskPickles to help pet owners get the advice they need, quickly and easily

Name of founders: Richard White

Location: London

Date launched: May 20th 2020

Number of employees: 3

Age of founders: 32

Website: https://askpickles.com

Social: https://twitter.com/askpickles and https://instagram.com/askpickles

Tell us what your business does

We provide advice and reassurance to pet owners. Being a pet parent is amazing, but it isn’t always easy. Knowing the right thing to do or buy isn’t as straight forward as you think. There’s a lot of bad advice out there and good advice is hard to find. Pickles is the platform that helps you be the pet parent you want to be.

Through our network of amazing experienced experts, we are there to hold your hand when you need it. From online video consultants and video messages from our vets, behaviourists and nutritionists, we are ready to give pet owners personalised advice.

Where did the idea of your business come from?

When I started my last business, Goodlord, me and my partner got our first pet together. This was a childhood dream of mine. From a young age, I had always wanted a dog of my own. As my Grandma was a dog breeder, I grew up with dogs around me but was never allowed one of my own. Because of this I thought of myself as someone ‘a little more in the know’ as most first time pet parents so I was going to breeze through. It was much harder than I thought!

When we tried to do research and get information we found a lot of it conflicted, rambling or just unhelpful. A lot of brands in the pet space were happy to take our money but didn’t seem to really care or understand us, and our struggles, as owners. We also had to go to many places to get all the things we needed for our new pet and the places where you could get it all in one place were old fashioned brands that we didn’t find appealing.

After our little boy died young from an auto-immune disease, we decided we would make it our mission to help pets and their owners have a less stressful life by starting a company that helps and understands what they need. We called it Pickles after him.

How did you know there was a market for it?

We did extensive global research into the incumbents and new startups in the pet space. We looked at what needs they weren’t fulfilling. Then we talked to a lot of pet owners to uncover what frustrations and needs (emotional too) of theirs weren’t being fulfilled.

What were you doing before starting up?

Before this I was the CEO of another company, Goodlord. I founded that company back in 2014. It was a prop-tech company which was successful and went through mutable rounds of investment totalling £14m.

Have you always wanted to run your own business?

Yes! From a young age I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit and starting running discos in my local pub at 14 – running my own business is definitely where I most feel alive.

How did you raise the money?

We haven’t raised any outside capital yet. I’ve done that in my last business and we aren’t in a rush. We want to find the right partners that see the business the same as us and have a similar outlook in the world.

Describe your business model and how you make money.

Currently we charge pet owners to send video questions to, and have video consultations with, qualified vets. We take a percentage of that charge. As we grow, we will be offering more services and products that have synergy with what we currently do, as well as supporting pets their owners in a more holistic way

What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?

Starting my second business has been hard. Much harder than I thought. When you come out of a heavily backed venture business, it’s hard to get back into the scrappy start up mentally. We started off wanting to raise money too early and ‘skip’ some of the important learning steps you should take, especially in a new industry.

It wasn’t until the current corona crisis hit that made me shift my thinking and got me into the mindset I needed. I learnt how to code and build what we needed to build myself keeping costs low and allowing us to launch and acquire customers.

What was your first big breakthrough?

Learning all the skills that I needed to build Pickles myself. This is the best feeling ever. If you’ve ever been a non-technical founder, you know the frustration of being disappointed at the rate of development speed and outcomes.

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Never stop. You’ll figure it out in the end. Always remember there are so many ways to achieve the result you want, just make sure you keep challenging yourself so you uncover your blind spots.

Where do you want to be in five years' time?

We want to be on the phone of most pet owners in the UK, improving their lives and the lives of their pets. Bringing down the cost of great pet care, improving the lives of many pets and providing an amazing place for people to work.

Bryn Glover
Bryn Glover

Editor

As Editor of Startups, Bryn runs content strategy and our annual campaigns. A lover of small business, you can find him writing about exciting entrepreneurs and UK industry trends.