Soon after Gabby Slome brought her adoptive dog, Pancho, home from a vacation to Colombia, she noticed something unsettling: He was gaining way too much weight.
“I was feeding him what I thought was really good food from a premium kibble brand, he gained weight really fast,” Slome told Business Insider. “I like to say he became Americanized rather quickly.”
Slome was working out of Primary Ventures at the time, which is where she met Alex Douzet. He had also just adopted a dog, and the dog had gained 14 pounds in a short amount of time. Douzet and Slome were worried about their pets, so they started looking into it.
All signs pointed to the food.
“When we really looked into it, we were seeing that 60% of the dogs in the US are obese, diabetes has increased by 98% over the last 10 years, the rate of cancer has drastically increased, and 90% of the cancer is because of lifestyle and diet,” Slome said. “When we looked into what’s at the root cause of this, we found that dog food was really the basis.”
The pair decided to form their own company, which they named Ollie. The company is officially launching Wednesday and has raised a $4.4 million seed round, led by Primary Ventures and Lerer Hippeau Ventures, with participation from Canaan Partners, among others.
Giving pet food a good name
What sets Ollie apart, the company says, is the ingredients in its food and how the food is tailored to individual dogs’ needs. All the food is prepared in a USDA- and FDA-regulated kitchen, which means it’s safe enough for humans to eat.
Most people don’t know what goes into the food they feed their pets, and that’s part of the problem, Slome says. Most dog food contains rendered meat and byproducts – which could range from wood chips to roadkill. Plus, the food is heated to high temperatures, artificial flavors are added to get dogs to eat it, and pet food brands suggest bigger serving sizes than are actually necessary, Slome says.
Ollie food contains things like spinach, chia seeds, and blueberries, and is heavy on protein like chicken or beef. Users can go to Ollie’s site and enter information about their pets – like age, weight, breed, and activity level – and the site’s algorithm calculates the best food and the best serving size for the dog. The food is delivered every two weeks, arrives in a sealed, Tupperware-like container, and needs to be refrigerated.
Ollie food costs about $3 per day and the company can ship the food nationwide. By some very rough calculations, that’s not much more expensive than buying food from a higher-end brand like Blue Buffalo. More importantly, Slome says, Ollie’s food keeps dogs healthier and at a more ideal weight, something most dog food on the market doesn’t do.
“We’re really here on a mission to raise the bar and give dog food a good name,” Slome said.