Ollie is Starting a Pet Food Revolution

Gabby Slome

with Gabby Slome

Co-founder and CXO of Ollie

Ollie is Starting a Pet Food Revolution

Ollie is Starting a Pet Food Revolution 800 1200 33Voices

Gabby and Jenna discuss how Ollie is setting a new standard for the pet food industry and what it requires to completely reimagine how a product is made. 

Insights from Gabby

On Giving Dogs the Best Life Possible

  • “We want to give dog food a good name and change the conversation about the way we feed our dogs. Our mantra is ‘Dogs who keep it real.’ Keeping it real is our umbrella for everything.”
  • “We created Ollie to give dogs a healthier life. We start at the core of what makes a dog healthy and how we can give them the best lives with every life-extending benefit that we can. The old saying ‘You are what you eat,’ applies to dogs too. Dogs require a lot of essential vitamins and minerals every day that they can’t produce themselves. Cooking at home is healthy, but most dogs are being fed the same foods. It’s the equivalent of eating kale and broccoli every day. They are missing the nutrient classes  they need to be at optimal health. It’s important that every meal a dog eats meets their nutritional needs. We do everything customized to a dog’s size and health needs. We want to take the guesswork out of finding dog food and give pet parents peace of mind that they are feeding their dogs the best possible food.” 
  • “The rate of obesity in dogs is up to 60% in the U.S. and diabetes has increased by over 900% in the past decade. No one is looking at the core element of their dogs’ health which is what they are feeding them. Studies have shown that if you keep your dog at an ideal weight you can add 20% to their life.” 
  • “We started by asking: What is an easy way to feed our dogs with the same values we follow feeding ourselves? If we don’t feel safe eating something why should we feel good giving it to our dogs?

On Reimagining the System 

  • “Finding our formulator was a lot more difficult than we could have anticipated. Trying to get someone to understand that we are making human-grade food for dogs was very challenging because they had this concept around what dog food is.  We had a formulator who said that they could make balanced food out of whatever we wanted, even shoe leather; That is the antithesis of what we are trying to do. The way people think about dog food is so ingrained and we’re trying to change that.” 
  • We don’t just want to design a system that is healthier for dogs. We want to reimagine the usage of feeding your dog.  If we are asking people to share their fridge space with their dog’s food we need to design packaging and a system so they feel comfortable doing that. It has to look as appealing as your food. We like to say ‘Open your fridge to Ollie.’ We want to make feeding your dog as easy and as elevated of an experience as the food itself. “
  • “Just like our food companies, dog food companies slap trends on bags. Companies are trying to position their food as premium without getting into the nitty gritty about what ingredients are used and how they are processed…Even if you put great ingredients in, the high processing dispels any valuable nutrients which results in companies adding artificial flavoring and supplements to make it nutritionally balanced.” 
  • “Our number one value is to put pets first. We use that as the lens for every decision that we make. We never sacrifice on a decision if it doesn’t put pets first. We want our products to be five times better than average. Our products are 5 – 12x chosen as the first choice of dogs compared to other brands out there. We know that we have to get things right. “
  • “It’s one thing to have great product features. You have to figure out why people care about it and talk to them about that. What is the root reason someone wants this in our food? When you pull that aspect out, it’s because you love your dog and your dog is a part of your family. The ultimate gift you can give them is health. If we are able to do that and tap into people’s motivations to try a new food or  research different options, we’re happy to do that. We launched a content site so early because we felt like there wasn’t a great source for pet parents to get information. It’s all about giving them peace of mind. We think of our core customers as health-seeking. Seeking is the key part of that. We are all curious and trying to be and do better. We want to be the resource of information for how you can keep improving your dog’s life.” 

On Building a Values-Driven Business 

  • “Before my co-founder Alex and I decided to officially partner, we wrote down all of our values to make sure that we were aligned on them. It allowed us to formulate the basis of our team and established a trust that we were going to hold the same values consistent no matter what happens. There are better days and worse days. On the latter, we need to have a shared agreement about the lens we  approach problems with.”
  • “The few weeks leading up to launch we made sure that everyone spent time at our manufacturing facility cooking, testing the food, and seeing how everything is done. Everyone is involved in every aspect of the business, regardless of their specific role. We think of Ollie as product company in the sense that we are making dog food but we are also a technology company. We use tech to enable a better product. We will continue to collect data around dogs and input any changes pet parents need to improve our formulas and portions. We are going to continue calibrating our algorithms to recommend the exact formula. It is an incredibly connected system. It is really important that everyone understands every aspect of it.” 

On Productivity as a Founder

  • “Always keep in mind that you are never going to get as much done in a day as you want. But, you are always going to get more done in a month than you ever thought possible. Keep your larger vision of what you are building towards and always be thinking about how you can push the boundaries. Also, be forgiving and take things in stride that each day might not always feel like a win. At the end of the month, we will always look back and be astonished at how much more we did.”