Interview With Zachary Greytsman
Describe your product or service:
“The Healthy Pet Alliance provides third-party certification for pet foods that meet higher standards. We help healthier brands build credibility with our ‘Healthy Pet Alliance Certified’ seal and awareness through digital marketing provided to member companies. The Healthy Pet Alliance states its mission is ‘to improve animal welfare by helping pet owners choose healthier, safer foods for their pets.’ Its work includes setting and regulating higher standards for pet foods via three categories: nutrition, ingredients, and manufacturing. The organization is primarily funded through its certification program, used to fund the program, research, and business operations. The Healthy Pet Alliance is a product-oriented governance group combining the interests of companies, manufacturers, animals, and pet owners to promote animal wellness.”
Describe your company values and mission:
“The Healthy Pet Alliance is a team of veterinarians, pet nutritionists, and manufacturing experts committed to providing pets with healthier food options. We are working at the intersection of pet health, business, and manufacturing to improve the livelihoods of pets and promote longer, healthier lives. We envision a world where pets live longer, happier, and healthier lives. Our mission is to improve pet health by providing owners with guidance to make more informed decisions regarding pet nutrition.”
How are you funded? I.e. type of funding, number of funding rounds, total funding amount.
“I have personally funded the Healthy Pet Alliance to date — approximately $20,000.”
How big is your team? Tell us a little about them!
“We currently have me as the founder, a pet nutritionist named Dr. Evelyn, a new accounts manager named John, a marketer named David, and a manufacturing specialist named Jessica.”
How did you come up with and validate your startup idea? Tell us the story!
“My girlfriend and I adopted our doodle, Bruin, two years ago and I couldn't believe how difficult and overwhelming it was to find the right food for him. Working in CPG 10 years, the dog food aisle still feels like the Wild Wild WWest. We ended up hiring a pet nutritionist to help understand the best diet for him, and I wanted to provide other owners with the ability to identify better, healthier foods — the Healthy Pet Alliance was born.”
How did you come up with your startup's name? Did you have other names you considered?
“Our alliance is built around improving the welfare and overall health of pets, so the name is very literal. I went through over 100 renditions before settling on the most straightforward.”
Did you always want to start your own business? What made you want to become an entrepreneur?
“I've always known I wanted to be an entrepreneur. As a brand manager at Hershey's and running several brands like Reese's, York, and Milk Duds, I realized my love for owning my own "business." However, this only partially fulfilled my desire and I knew that real, fast, and impactful change would come from starting my own company. I'm passionate about dogs and making the world a better place for them and felt compelled to improve how we care for our pets.”
What was the biggest obstacle you encountered while launching your company? How did you overcome it?
“Attempting to sell something that is new and unproven has been the biggest hurdle. I'm overcoming it by learning from each sales call, adjusting the speech and offering based on what we learn, and hiring excellent salespeople like John.”
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Who is your target market? How did you establish the right market for your startup?
“Pet owners, aged 24-55, with middle to high income. My target market is consistent with premium dog food purchasers.”
What's your primary marketing strategy?
“Digital marketing, member-product focused.”
How did you acquire your first 100 customers?
“Cold email and word of mouth, but gearing up to launch our first digital marketing campaign in 2023.”
What are the key customer metrics / unit economics / KPIs you pay attention to to monitor the health of your business?
“Sales, velocity, distribution, trial, and repeat of certified products.”
What's your favorite startup book and podcast?
“‘Secrets of Question Based Selling’ (book) and ‘How I Built This’ (podcast).”
What is a song or artist that you listen to for motivation?
“Red Hot Chili Peppers and Chris Stapleton.”
Is there a tool, app, or resource that you swear by to help run your startup?
“Calendly and Slack are my best friends.”
What is something that surprised you about entrepreneurship?
“There is always SOMETHING that needed to be done last week.”
How do you achieve work/life balance as a founder?
“Make time for what matters most — friends and family. Regimented bed and wake times. Otherwise, you'll usually find me working.”
When did you know it was time to quit your day job to focus on your startup?
“After reaching 10 years at The Hershey Company and realizing that I could make a greater impact on my own than another decade at a large company.”
What was your first job and what did it teach you?
“Bank teller — to be friendly and treat people with respect and that trust is key.”
More on Healthy Pet Alliance
Zachary Greytsman, founder of pet startup Healthy Pet Alliance, shared valuable insights during our interview that will inspire and motivate aspiring entrepreneurs.
We asked Zachary Greytsman, founder of Healthy Pet Alliance, to share the most impactful ways to support their startup, and this is what they had to say.