Breaking into the saturated pet nutrition market as a startup can be daunting, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t resources available for accelerating early-stage brand growth. SKU is one such resource, and in 2023 the organization offered its first-ever accelerator track dedicated to pet care startups. One of four participants in the inaugural pet track was D.R.E.A.M. (Dogs Rule Everything Around Me) Pet Food, a dog treat brand “where hip-hop and pet treats collide.”
The D.R.E.A.M. Pet Food brand — which also participated in the 2023 Leap Venture Studio SuperZoo Pitch Competition in collaboration with Black Pet Business Network — was founded by pet industry veterans Jaime Cooper and Paul Paige, who sought to combine the nostalgia of 80s-era hip-hop with modern expectations for high-quality pet treats.
“We talk all the time about representation in the industry,” Cooper said. “We go to a lot of these [industry] conferences and, unfortunately, we wouldn’t see a lot of people who look like us. So, through those conversations, Paul and I were like… ‘I think there’s a white space in this industry for something that represents our culture and the music we grew up loving.’”
In this episode of More Than Kibble, Pet Food Processing Editor Kimberlie Clyma is joined by Buff Greebe, executive director of SKU, and Cooper to discuss how SKU’s pet care accelerator program provides D.R.E.A.M. and other industry companies with the mentorship and exposure needed to take its business to the next level.
0:40 – Introducing Buff Greebe and Jaime Cooper
1:40 – What is SKU?
2:56 – SKU’s entrance into pet care
3:28 – The vision behind D.R.E.A.M. Pet Food
4:50 – Bringing the D.R.E.A.M. vision to life through branding
5:43 – D.R.E.A.M.’s partnership with SKU
6:47 – The importance of mentorship for startups
8:57 – How access to mentorship benefitted D.R.E.A.M.
10:29 – How SKU finds experts to mentor its startup partners
11:38 – Showcase Day, from SKU’s perspective
12:17 – Showcase Day, from Cooper’s perspective
13:42 – What happens after Showcase Day?
15:18 – How the SKU experience will fuel D.R.E.A.M.’s future
16:30 – Planned branding improvements as a result of SKU mentorship
18:10 – How pet industry brands can get involved in the SKU program
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