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The Startups 20: Tails.com

The bespoke doggy diet subscription company helping to keep tails wagging

Founders: James Davidson, Steve Webster, Joe Inglis, Graham Boscher, Karen Freeman, Kat Linger, Mark Holland and Paul Cooke
Founded: 2013
Website: www.tails.com


Startups.co.uk appearances


The Tails.com story

Let’s face it: dogs can have a rough ride when it comes to their diets. Not all canine digestive systems are the same, and so the standard sacks of pet food that you see on supermarket shelves – much like a lot of foods – are suitable for some, but not for others.

That’s why tails.com – a small pack of nutritionists, vets, dieticians, and dog-lovers dedicated to designing bespoke pet food – was first founded. Together, the team “combines nutritional expertise and manufacturing innovation with an exceptional digital customer experience”.

From the very beginning, tails.com was off to a winning start. Not only would the ex head of operations at Innocent Drinks and Unilever take the CEO position, the business would also receive the backing of founders of Innocent Drinks, LOVEFiLM and Graze in the form of £5m in seed funding.

However, while the company was born in 2013, it wasn’t until the founding members had spent a year consulting with dog professionals to extensively research, formulate, and trial their proposed product that they officially launched their dog food subscription service.

Fast forward seven years, and tails.com has launched in six European countries – and we can’t deny the success of the hardworking team behind the brand. With a “diverse range of bold, talented businesses and entrepreneurs kicking forward great ideas,” it was a no brainer to feature the friend to man’s best friend in the Startups 20.


Why did we choose tails.com for the Startups 20?

Tails.com had a winning idea right from the beginning, so naturally, the business attracted the best people – and a huge chunk of initial funding. It wasn’t long before the business was reaping in great reviews from happy dogs and their humans, and by 2017, the 42 strong tails.com team was sending food parcels to over 65,000 subscribers.

Along the way, tails.com has picked up multiple awards for both its product and its customer service. In 2016, tails.com went home with the award for best product at the Startups Awards and two silver awards from the UK Customer Experience Awards, which commended their excellent culture and teamwork.

In April 2018, it was announced that Nestle Purina had taken a majority share in tails.com. Unlike many companies that are bought out by competitor brands, tails.com stood by its values, and the hundreds of thousands of dogs that are fed on tails.com’s tailored diets still benefit from the same food and service standards that the brand has always delivered.

James Davidson, CEO of tails.com, is serious about continuing the long-term ambition that he set when tails.com was founded:

“Being ‘game-changing’ is one of our four core values at tails.com, and as we’ve grown, we’ve worked hard to make sure that we stay true to it and continue to provide the very best product and experience for our customers.”

Seven years since tails.com first started shaking up the pet food industry, over 200,000 dogs benefit from a diet designed for their individual health needs. Such is their success that they’re “taking the concept to continental Europe in [their] next phase of growth.” And they’ve even ‘Brexit-proofed’ the business by investing in a new factory on the continent.


Tails.com in 2020

Tails.com Startups 20

In a year that has been tough for many businesses, tails.com – as a digital-based direct to consumer (D2C) company – has seen a surge in people wanting to purchase their dog food online. Davidson commended his solid supply chain, which saw them through the peak of the pandemic, and is confident that his team will continue to keep all tails.com customers happy.

Davidson also commended his international team, which he says “in the midst of lockdowns across Europe, […] launched tails.com in Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium, Austria and Ireland.” Now, in 2020, tails.com is keeping tails wagging in nine countries, which Davidson says “is a massive step change for a startup from Richmond!”.

We’d be barking mad not to include them in our top 20!


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Aimee Bradshaw
Aimee Bradshaw

Writer and researcher

Aimee recently joined Startups as resident expert in business tech, products, and services. Having ran her own egg delivery business from the age of 12, she is an advocate of self starters and small businesses.