The Bear & The Rat is a new line of healthy frozen dog treat for spoiled pups. If your dog is anything like mine, they want what you’re having. These probiotic treats are a guilt-free way for your pup to indulge. I had the chance to ask Meg Meyer, co-owner of TB&TR, some questions for our latest profile. Enjoy!
I worked in Reality TV for a few years, and have been working for little marketing ad agencies for the past five years. Matt has always worked in specialty food distribution. In 2010, I decided to go to an entrepreneurial conference (http://99u.com/) in NYC. Inspired, we decided to move forward on this idea we’d had for a very long time…to make a healthful “ice cream of sorts” for dogs. There were so many iterations in our heads. We wanted to sell product to dog parks at first. Then, we wanted a retail shop where people could come with their dogs and enjoy an ice cream for themselves and an ice cream for dogs. Still love that idea, but we were concerned with liability. Then, we looked around and realized that we were in a natural products mecca here in Colorado…I could wear the Marketing hat, Matt could wear the Distribution hat and so, we decided to launch the product and make it available to retailers! That was April, 2010. Our product hit regional pet and Whole Foods Market stores in September, 2011.
What’s cool about TB&TR is that our product is healthful and actually ‘looks’ like a pint of ice cream for humans. We wanted to design a product where you can have your Ben & Jerry’s in peace and they can have their Bear & Rat in peace. Ha! Unbelievably, with flavors such as Bacon & Peanut Butter, there are a few humans who purchase TB&TR for themselves (knowing full well that it’s intended for dogs)! We use human grade ingredients, so it’s not like there are nasty by-products or chemicals or anything that will “hurt” a human…it’s just funny to see a guy standing outside of a Whole Foods digging into some TB&TR. This has happened! There are also a couple of moms who purchase the Banana & Peanut Butter flavor for their children because it doesn’t contain sugar and the kids love that flavor profile.
Shark Tank was a HUGE DEAL for The Bear & The Rat. Though we did not get a deal with any of the sharks, we recently made a deal with a couple of amazing angel investors who happened to catch our episode the third time that it reran. They believe in us. They believe in the product. They believe in our strategy. It’s HUGE to have them on board and to have their support. We have also expanded our distribution and started private labeling our treats for a doggie retailer. All of these things are giving us momentum and hope that 2014 will bring opportunities we haven’t even imagined yet.
Well, they are our beloved real pets for one thing. I’ve had Quimby (The Bear) since he was 8 weeks old. He turned 15 last year. And Matt’s had Laika (The Rat) for 8 years. Both Matt and I have always talked for the dogs. Over the years, we’ve developed very elaborate personalities for them. For example, The Bear’s a pampered, self-obsessed, oftentimes blunt Lhasa Apso who loves his frozen yogurt treats along with pizza, cake and chicken wings. He believes that he’s an expert on urban living because he lived in Boston for five years and he’s fond of tall tales. He’s convinced himself and others that he’s lived in Tibet with the monks and knows the Dalai Lama. The Rat is a loyal, honest (sometimes to a fault) Rat Terrier with a fiery personality. He lives and loves to cook. He wants to educate the world about cooking with whole foods as well as canine health and wellness. We will be using their personalities more and more as the brand develops.
So many memorable moments. Getting into Whole Foods. Getting a phone call from a producer of Shark Tank asking us to apply for the show. Bringing on an investor. Developing, scaling up, perfecting how to make the product with my amazing husband (we used to make it in our kitchen. In a blender!) Purchasing a filling machine. Getting a huge shipment of packaging delivered in the snow. Delighting a new customer’s owner with our fanciful brand & new customer with our delicious treat. So many memorable, amazing things have happened so far that I’m a little giddy right now!
This year is super super exciting, as we are launching our second product: Single Serve Cup Packs [(4) Single Serve Cups per Pack!] Beyond that, we have a whole bag of Willy Wonka-esque ideas for the brand that we will be rolling out as soon as timing and growth collide!
The thing that keeps me awake at night is getting our treats into the hands of our customers. My biggest focus is securing distribution along the West and East Coasts because right now TB&TR is only widely available in Colorado. With a frozen product, distribution is our biggest challenge because shipping direct is very expensive once you’ve factored in the cost of a cooler, dry ice and expedited delivery.