Pure: Mathew Cockroft and Daniel Eha

The entrepreneurial duo tell Startups that a background in nutrition was essential to developing their naturally dehydrated human-grade pet food

Name: Naturally dehydrated human grade pet food
Age: 27 and 25
Company: Pure
Staff numbers: 2
Location: Yorkshire
Date launched: 27/03/2013
Website: www.purepetfood.co.uk

Tell us what your business does:

Pure makes naturally dehydrated human grade pet foods. The main difference with Pure is that our foods are produced using a process called dehydration. This means we avoid the harsh cooking processes involved in making a wet or a dry food.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

It made no sense to us that feeding our dog a highly-processed food, containing low quality ingredients, manufactured into small biscuits fed each and every day could possibly be ideal. We began searching for a solution, after much head scratching we had the idea to remove the moisture from the food using the gentle method called dehydration, making the food last, whilst preserving the natural goodness of the ingredients at the same time.

How did you know there was a market for it?

We initially started making the recipes in our own kitchen, with a small dehydration machine we saved up to buy. We had friends and family pets try out the foods which went down a storm. Our market research showed many pet owners shared our concerns about what goes into commercial pet foods, which left us convinced there was a bigger market for Pure. After all, why should pets be exempt from getting a low processed and varied diet, made from high quality ingredients, just like humans do!

What were you doing before starting up?

Dan was training towards a doctorate in clinical psychology, whilst childhood friend Mat was a personal trainer. Using Mat’s qualifications in nutrition and human health, our first business was in the lifestyle industry, championing healthy eating. The lessons and understanding gained of both business and nutrition has since helped enormously.

Have you always wanted to run your own business?

Growing up we have always had an entrepreneurial spirit. We were both encouraged by our families to do something which we had a real interest and passion for; Pure seemed like the perfect fit!

How did you raise the money?

We were lucky enough to receive an innovation grant from our local council whilst we also saved money from our previous business (which has allowed us to finance the research and development of our products over the last 12 months, prior to going to market).

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

Being the first pet food to be made in a human quality food facility resulted in us facing huge challenges almost every step of the way. When we initially turned to industry experts for advice, the most common suggestion was that what we were trying couldn’t be done. However we persevered and are now fully regulated by the human, rather than the animal authorities, meaning every last part of our foods from the ingredients to the manufacture of them is done to the exact same standards as human food.

Describe your business model and how you make money:

We currently produce our foods for sale exclusively through our online shop. This has given us the flexibility to provide our customers with a high quality food without having to break the bank. We have a lot of innovate and exciting ideas planned throughout the year so definitely watch this space!

What was your first big breakthrough?

Our first major breakthrough was being regulated to produce our food in a human quality food facility. After this the challenge was to scale the business without incurring huge costs. We have been lucky enough to establish some great partnerships with our suppliers and manufacturers, who believed in the project so much that they gave us credit terms immediately.

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Do your market research and be sure you are in business for the right reasons. You have to want to do it for more than just financial reasons.  Find something you’re passionate about and don’t be afraid to give it a go!

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

Our first ambition is for pet lovers all over the UK to be able to feed a Pure food diet to their pets. After that we see huge export opportunities across Europe, and then the world. In five years’ time our dream is to have become the Ella’s Kitchen of the pet food world!

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