20 Pet Startups with a Promising Future

by Josh Howarth - July 29, 2021

Pets aren’t just pets anymore—and the numbers back this up.

The pet food market alone in the U.S. is worth a whopping $30B. And experts expect the space to grow at an even faster rate than packaged food for humans over the next several years.

The overall pet market as a whole hit upwards of $100B in sales last year, with increases in multiple pet care categories, including veterinary services, pet supplies, and pet food.

As the pet industry continues to grow, many startups in pet healthcare, customized pet food, pet insurance, and related areas seek to catch consumers’ eyes with their services and products. We’ve rounded up 20 of these promising companies.

1. The Farmer’s Dog

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5-year search growth: 2900%

Search growth status: Exploding

Year founded: 2014

Location: New York City, New York

Funding: $103.1M (Series C)

What they do: The Farmer’s Dog is an alternative pet food startup that ships dog owners nutritious, human-grade dog food. Founders Jonathan Regex and Brett Podolsky dreamt up the company after finding that homemade dog food alleviated Podolsky’s dog’s digestive issues. In 2020 the company completed a Series C funding round amounting to $54M.

2. Barkyn

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5-year search growth: 6800%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2017

Location: Porto, Portugal

Funding: $12.4M (Series A) https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/barkyn

What they do: Barkyn is a personalized dog food startup primarily focused on the Portuguese, Italian, and Spanish markets. The company’s differentiators include food tailored to a dog’s exact needs, 24/7 support from veterinarians, and the use of the anti-aging supplement Oxi+ in their food. Founder/CEO André Jordão initially started the company with the idea of combatting the lack of custom options in the pet care space.

3. Nom Nom

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5-year search growth: 16%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2015

Location: Nashville, Tennessee; Oakland, California

Funding: $13M (Series B)

What they do: Nom Nom (NomNomNow, Inc.) provides customers with healthy, veterinarian-formulated dog food shipped anywhere in the continental United States. Benefits they attribute to their food include increased energy, fresher breath, reduced shedding, and healthy weight. In addition to their pet food business, the company is also compiling a database of pet microbiome information. In May 2018, the company announced a funding round amounting to $13M, which was the largest such investment in the industry at the time.

4. Butternut Box

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5-year search growth: 1825%

Search growth status: Exploding

Year founded: 2016

Location: London, England, United Kingdom

Funding: $58M (Series C)

What they do: Butternut Box offers custom, grain-free, human-grade dog food with free delivery in the U.K. Founders Kevin Glynn and Dave Nolan launched the company in 2016, starting it as a side hustle and transitioning it to a full-time business. The London-based startup raised an estimated £20 million in 2020 in a round led by L Catterton, which has also invested in Bliss, Birkenstock, Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza & Wings, and other companies.

5. PetPlate

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5-year search growth: 333%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2017

Location: New York City, New York

Funding: $13M (Series A)

What they do: PetPlate is a startup in the alternative dog food space. They partner with veterinary nutritionist Dr. Renee Streeter to create nutritious meals that include vegetables, real meat, and other nutrients. The company previously made an appearance on Season 8, Episode 10 of the popular investment show Shark Tank with the goal of securing $100K. Though they did not receive investment at that time, they have since raised roughly $13M total, with a $9M investment in early 2020.

6. Bella and Duke

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5-year search growth: 6800%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2016

Location: Blairgowrie, Perthshire, United Kingdom

Funding: Unknown

What they do: Bella and Duke offers raw dog and cat food for pet owners concerned about the health of their pets and dissatisfied with standard options. Founders Mark Scott and Tony Ottley launched the company after the passing of their dogs. Through research, they concluded that cancer that took their pets might have stemmed from the quality of the conventional food they were eating. In late May 2021, Bella and Duke announced an investment of nearly $10M, which it plans to use to increase its reach and impact.

7. Supertails

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5-year search growth: 7000%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2021

Location: Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

Funding: $2.6M (Seed)

What they do: Supertails is a pet health startup that provides veterinary telehealthcare and home delivery of pet care products and food. Founded in 2021, the company has already raised upwards of $2.6M from a range of investors, including Bollywood star Deepika Padukone, Saama Capital, and Tej Kapoor. The company’s leadership team includes doctors and entrepreneurs with solid experience in the pet care space.

8. Wagmo

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5-year search growth: 341%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2017

Location: New York City, New York

Funding: $15.6M (Series A)

What they do: Wagmo is a pet care startup that provides digital pet wellness services and insurance for monthly fees. The company, which is comprised of 58% female team members, can help pet owners cover emergency needs, chronic issues, and other ailments and injuries. Their wellness plans include common medication, routine visits and shots, and other needs. In July 2021, Wagmo brought in $12.5M in a Series A funding round with contributions from Revolution Ventures and individual investors such as GameStop Board Member Jim Grube and Allstate Treasurer Marilyn Hirsch.

9. Tractive

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5-year search growth: 194%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2012

Location: Pasching, Oberosterreich, Austria

Funding: $37.7M (Series A)

What they do: Tractive is a pet GPS company that helps pet parents keep close tabs on their cats or dogs through their smartphones. The company’s technology was featured in the Amazon Prime show The Pack, which premiered on November 20, 2021. The Austrian company was founded by Michael Tschernuth and Michael Lettner, former colleagues at Austrian mobile phone company Emporia Telecom, and Michael Hurnaus, who previously worked at Microsoft and Amazon.

10. Swifto

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5-year search growth: -35%

Search growth status: Peaked

Year founded: 2010

Location: New York City, New York

Funding: $2.5M (Series A)

What they do: Swifto is an app that connects pet owners with reliable professional dog walkers. Focused on the New York City and Miami areas currently, the app allows dog owners to monitor the private walks through GPS tracking and in-walk photos. Swifto most recently raised $2.5M in 2013 from San Francisco venture capital firm Benchmark Capital.

11. PetHub

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5-year search growth: 175%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2010

Location: Wenatchee, Washington

Funding: $4M (Series A)

What they do: PetHub is a pet care startup seeking to tackle the problem of lost pets. They offer pet ID tags that can be scanned to show the information needed to reconnect an animal with its owner. The company was founded by Tom Arnold, previously a Microsoft employee, in an effort to improve the low U.S. Return to Owner rate.

12. Pawp

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5-year search growth: 180%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2019

Location: New York City, New York

Funding: $16.3M (Series A)

What they do: Pawp is a telehealth startup that delivers veterinary care and emergency coverage for a monthly fee. The company aims to help pet owners provide quality care to their pets while avoiding pricey veterinary bills. Launched in 2019, Pawp brought in $13M in mid-2021 from several prestigious investors, including the founders of Allbirds, Harry’s, and Zocdoc.

13. PupBox

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5-year search growth: 308%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2014

Location: San Diego, California

Funding: Unknown (Acquired)

What they do: PupBox is a subscription box company focused on helping pet parents successfully train and raise their dogs. The company provides customized boxes appropriate for the developmental needs of a dog as they age. After a Shark Tank investment in 2016, the company was acquired by Petco in 2017.

14. PetDesk

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5-year search growth: 4500%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2011

Location: San Diego, California

Funding: $15.6M (Series B)

What they do: PetDesk is a communication and productivity platform that helps veterinary practices provide care and information to their clients while saving time and getting more done. Through their app, vets are able to achieve an average 4.72% growth in revenue annually. In 2019, PetDesk received a $12M investment from PeakSpan Capital with plans to advance toward their goal of giving back 10 million years of life to pets everywhere in 10 years.

15. Embark Veterinary

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5-year search growth: 194%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2015

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States

Funding: $19.3M (Series A)

What they do: Embark Veterinary is a dog DNA testing company that seeks to gain a greater understanding of the canine animal in order to better care for them. The biotechnology startup provides pet parents with insights into the health and potential disease risks of their animals. The company was co-founded in 2015 by Blue Apron founder Matt Salzberg, researchers Adam and Ryan Boyko, and Spencer Wells, who previously worked for the National Geographic Society.

16. PrettyLitter

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5-year search growth: 4900%

Search growth status: Exploding

Year founded: 2015

Location: Los Angeles, California

Funding: Unknown

What they do: PrettyLitter is a pet care startup selling smart cat litter that eliminates odors and can help pet owners keep track of their cats’ health. The company’s product is home-delivered and can indicate possible health problems like urinary tract infections with color changes. Harvard alum founder Daniel Rotman launched PrettyLitter in partnership with pet blogger and PR agency co-founder Carly Martinetti. The idea first won recognition in ABC Family’s TV show Startup U.

17. WÜF

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5-year search growth: 270%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2013

Location: Boulder, Colorado

Funding: $360K (Angel)

What they do: WÜF created a connected dog collar that gives pet owners access to data about a pet’s location and movement and can act as a training aid. Founder Sean G. Kelly’s aim was to create a “mobile invisible fence” to keep pets safe and empower dog owners to deliver better care. WÜF’s initial funding came in 2014 from a $90K Kickstarter campaign.

18. PawSquad

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5-year search growth: 5400%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2015

Location: London, England, United Kingdom

Funding: £3.6M (Acquired)

What they do: PawSquad is a pet health startup that connects pet owners with 24/7 telehealth veterinary services through chat and video conferencing. The services, which include general guidance and assistance with specific concerns, are available through multiple devices and a mobile app. In early 2021, PawSquad was acquired by IVC Evidensia, a veterinary group that provides veterinary care in Europe.

19. KitNipBox

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5-year search growth: 88%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2014

Location: New York City, New York

Funding: $75K (Seed)

What they do: KitNipBox is a subscription box service aimed at cats. The boxes are home-delivered with a mix of treats, toys, and other items meant to amuse and reward feline pets. In 2017, KitNipBox received the title of “Best Pet Subscription Box” from the Subscription Trade Association’s CUBE Awards.

20. AnimalBiome

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5-year search growth: 0%

Search growth status: Peaked

Year founded: 2016

Location: Oakland, California

Funding: $2.25M (Seed)

What they do: AnimalBiome provides pet owners with scientifically sound insights into their pets’ gut health and recommendations and products to improve it. Customers send a small pet fecal sample to AnimalBiome, where laboratory employees use DNA sequencing to evaluate the sample. After completing two startup accelerators in 2017 and 2018, AnimalBiome carried out a $1.5M seed round of funding in early 2020.

Conclusion

More than ever, pet owners see their pets as family, striving to provide them with a higher quality of life and more customized care.

This list of pet startups shows several key trends within the larger pet market, including premium pet food, pet telehealth, and personalized dog healthcare.

If predictions around the growth of the pet space remain steady, these startups and others like them could see substantial growth in the coming years.

Written By
Josh Howarth
Co-founder of Exploding Topics.
548 Market St. Suite 95149
San Francisco, California
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