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Pet Startup Pawp Wants To Take A Bite Of Chewy

A new digital direct-to-consumer pet supplies and services company says it’s ready to start following Chewy.com and taking a bite out of the $75 billion pet market.

New York-based startup Pawp.com launched its website on Monday, after two months of beta testing. It markets itself as ‘the most humane pet brand’ and says its goal is to become a ‘trusted advisor’ who can recommend veterinarians, groomers and other service providers to pet owners. , as well as sell them.

Pawp.com is a newborn little pup, with $3 million in seed funding and eight employees, but its founders believe they can compete with the big dogs and earn the trust of the millennial, homeowner population. largest and most dynamic animals.

Millennials, said 27-year-old CEO and co-founder Marc Atiyeh, don’t want to have thousands of choices for pet food, beds or dog groomers. They want, he says, to be guided to the best choices by someone they trust.

“There is a profound lack of trusted advisors in space. And that’s really what we’re trying to do,” Atiyeh said.

However, there is no shortage of digital startups in the pet industry. New online brands offer everything from dog walking services (Rover and Wag); DNA Tests (Onboard); digital dog bowls that track consumption (Obe); and deliveries of prepared meals for pets (NomNomNow, PetPlate and others).

News from CrunchBase reported last year, venture capital funding for pet startups was $291.8 million in 2017, and total investments in 2018 had already topped $519 million by mid-year.

Atiyeh and Pawp co-founder Andrew Malek have experience on digital platforms that evolved and then were sold. They both worked at Paribus, a company co-founded by Atiyeh’s brother. She created a price-tracking app that got refunds for consumers and was acquired by Capital One. They then helped develop Clarity Money, the personal finance app acquired by Goldman Sachs.

Pawp.com sells pet food and supplies from about two dozen brands and offers same-day delivery in New York and two-day delivery nationwide. But the main goal of the site is to create a platform that connects owners to the right service providers, as well as the right products.

Pet owners who register on the site are requested to provide the name of their veterinarian and authorize Pawp to request from the veterinarian a copy of the animal’s health certificate, a form indicating the age, sex , breed, vaccinations, medications, allergies and other information. This certificate is used to create a pet passport and to guide product and service recommendations.

“We want to be a janitor,” Atiyeh said. Owners will be able to click on links on the site to book appointments easily and quickly, he said.

Service providers don’t pay to be listed on the site, but eventually Pawp plans to generate revenue by charging fees on service appointments booked through the site, similar to the Open Table business model or other reference sites.

For the e-commerce portion of the site, Pawp offers a small selection of what it calls the best products, rather than hundreds of choices.

Atiyeh thinks Chewy’s large size and scale creates an opportunity for a smaller player like Pawp.

“Even though Chewy has great products, it’s really about trying to find a needle in a haystack, going through page after page to find that great product,” he said.

Chewy, however, also promises to make the right recommendations for pet owners, and he’s eight years ahead of Pawp.

Chewy has over 5 million customer pet profiles and uses this data to make personalized recommendations. Although Chewy may offer thousands of products, it says it directs customers to the ones that work best for them.

“We may have thousands of SKUs, but for every customer, we always offer the exact selection they want when they want it, and we deliver it reliably, predictably and with high quality,” the CEO said. of Chewy, Sumit Singh, when I asked. him about claims from startups like Pawp that Chewy had gotten too big.

Chewy is watching its customer service net promoter score closely, and it’s been consistent, if not better, over the past two years, Singh said. “Which tells you that whether we’re a $500 million, $2 billion, or $4 billion company, our ability to scale the customer experience hasn’t deteriorated. Not many people can say that . »

The American Pet Products Association typically adds more than 300 new members a year, most of whom are startups, said APPA spokeswoman Tierra Bonaldi. It’s a great time for new companies to enter the pet market, she said, because “the human-animal bond is stronger than ever.”

“We’re noticing a trend of pet owners sparing no expense when it comes to the health and happiness of their pets,” Bonaldi said.

Millennials are driving much of the growth, she said. “Millennials are one group in particular who expect more from their pet products, more options, more apps, more transparency, more features and are leading the way for a more robust industry,” said she declared.

Ryan Cohen, the founder of Chewy, said the failure of Pets.com in 2000 created space for him to create Chewy. Pets.com’s implosion from IPO to liquidation in nine months has long caused investors and entrepreneurs to fear the online pet space, giving Chewy a free rein.

No one is afraid of the online pet space now, and Pawp is getting into an increasingly crowded realm. And the lead dog, Chewy, is well ahead of the rest of the pack.