Friday, March 6, 2015

Interview with Doggy Bag Delivery founders Simon and Bianca

DoggyBag Delivery founders Simon and Bianca with their dog and muse, Soldier.
Simon and Bianca are pet owners who were so concerned about their dog Soldier’s health issues that they did their own research…and ended up turning it into a business: Doggy Bag Delivery. SAT had a chat with the founders of DoggyBag Delivery to find out what exactly is involved in the dog food business.

What’s your day job?

We both work in Sydney City.  Bianca works in online sales and Simon is an IT Executive.  Our night/weekend job (and our passion) is cooking and delivery DoggyBag – which we love!

How did you come up with the idea of home-delivered pet food as a business?

Soldier has always had sensitivities to certain foods so we were always home cooking his meals.  It was during our refinement stages of his meals that spark an interest in researching and speaking to professionals about what the best meals are.

Lots of our friends were also home cooking meals for their pooches and were interested in what we were doing – it was then we realised we could make this into a business and help other people.  As we are both working professionals we realised that home delivery and portion control would also take away the stress involved in feeding your dog.

Solider displays the doggy bag food. Impressive posing!
Can you tell us a bit more about Soldier – how did you meet?

We met Soldier when he was just an 8 week old puppy.  Bianca knew the first moment she saw him that he was the one.  He was the runt of the litter and the only one left.  He had abnormally big ears so he stood out (hence the name Soldier).  Solider is treated like a real little boy.  He has the most amazing fun and infectious personality and we love him dearly.

How does your business work?

Customer’s order on our website specify the dog’s details (breed, weight, level of activity) and based on that information we calculate a weekly meal plan.  Customers have the option of 3 meal plans; Dry + Wet (kibble and wet food), Dinner Only (just 1 wet meal for dinner) and All Wet (wet meals for breakfast and dinner).

The daily meal plan provides the dog with the correct amount of calories and nutrients.  Each week we freshly cooked every meals and tailor the serving size and meal plans for each dog. Right now we deliver on Sunday’s to kick off each week with fresh DoggyBag.

Phil met Bianca and tried Doggy Bag. Phil comes under the category of "super fussy eater" so the concept of someone else running around chasing ingredients is definitely appealing when compared with late night dashes to the supermarket.
As a veterinarian I sometimes recommend an owner puts their pet on a home prepared diet, for example in the case of an elimination diet. What makes home-prepared diets challenging?

Home-prepared meals are challenging for a few reasons:
  1. It takes a lot of effort to prepare and cook meals for your pets each week.  Bianca and I did it for years and although it became routine it did take a couple of hours each week, and there were times we forgot or ran out of food.  In Soldier’s case changing diets is not a good idea due to his sensitivities.
  2. Next up is serving size.  Meals purchased from Vets/Stores have been analysed for calorie content so it’s easier to determine how much to feed your pet.  With home cooked meals this is harder – so often owners won’t know how much to feed their pet – which isn’t good if you’re pet is trying to loose/gain weight.  It’s important to feed your animal the correct amount.  Over feeding is a huge problem and can shorten the lifespan of your beloved furry friend.
  3. The final challenge is to understand what to cook/prepare.  Elimination diets are easier as you can start simple – but once you’ve found the source you want to ensure you pet is getting all the nutrients it needs (and from good sources).  It’s easy to miss out on essentially nutrients or sometimes over do it (in the case of too much liver - Vitamin A Toxicity).  For instance owners serving raw diets must ensure their dogs also get the needed calcium too, otherwise they’ll be prone to lots of problems.

You’ve mentioned you did a lot of research in developing the meals. How do you ensure that the dog’s nutritional needs are met?

It became a passion of ours.  We first got in contact with a couple of local Vets in the Northern Beaches to run our ideas passed them.  They were kind enough to point us in the right direction and give us invaluable advice.   We then spend around 4-5 months researching dog nutrition – this included reading clinical books, speaking to nutritionists and lots of online research.

As we formulated our each of our meals we would consult with Vets to ensure.  Finally we had them labs tested to ensure they met the AAFCO standards.

Simon and Bianca with Soldier.
Soldier has a sensitive stomach. What other patients benefit from a diet like this?

We’ve found our diets working for lots of different dogs – including those without sensitivities or any issues. We have some great success stories of dogs with skin issues clearing up.  Dry paws, weight loss and stomach sensitivities like Soldier.  Also super fussy eaters. 

We focused on the palatability of our food.  Large brands (kibble and wet) try to do this by adding flavour enhancers to the food – for our food it’s just all-natural and dogs love it! 

Bianca and I always check in during the first week and it makes it all worth it hearing about dogs licking the bowl clean.

The pet food industry is big business and highly competitive. What’s different about doggybagdelivery?

DoggyBag is different in 3 ways:
  • Our meals are freshly cooked, not canned or frozen then delivered.  We only used the freshest ingredients and by adding a canine supplement it’s the missing link is most home cooked meals.
  • Each meal is portioned and tailored for each dog.  There’s no guessing on how much to feed your dog – we do it for you.  This allows us to help control your dog’s weight as well as any other issues.
  • We deliver to your home and we’re a set and forget subscription service.  So no more forgetting to buy food, or no lost hours preparing – Just open the door on Sunday morning and the food is there ready to go.

We’re a small business and we are passionate about dogs and we love what we do.

Thanks Bianca and Simon for taking time out to chat. You can find out more about DoggyBagDelivery via website, facebook page (here) or Instagram (here).