founder

Founder Profile: A Sit-down with KetoNatural Founder & CEO Daniel Schulof

Summary

KetoNatural Pet Foods is a protein vs. carb focused, all-natural pet food company. Led by Founder and CEO Daniel Schulof, KetoNatural was founded on the belief that the modern pet food industry doesn’t provide man’s best friend with what they need to thrive.

Often, our pets are overweight – a predictable outcome from a carbohydrate-heavy diet. Daniel was shocked, but it didn’t leave him surprised: the benefits of a “keto diet” (rich in proteins) has long been known to be beneficial for humans.

And so, to feed our pets the food they need to live long, healthy lives KetoNatural Pet Foods was born.

As a reminder, KetoNatural is a KingsCrowd “Top Deal” recommendation, so hopefully this is an opportunity to bolster investor convictions around why this is a great investment opportunity.

The interview with Daniel Schulof gives us the information about his motivation, ideologies and growth path of the company.
Chris Lustrino

We would love to learn a bit more about your background and what led you to the pet food industry?

Daniel Schulof

The story began in 2010-2011. I was working as an intellectual property attorney in Atlanta, GA. I was decent at it, and eventually, I was financially secure enough to take a shot at starting my own business.

Back then the only ‘family’ I had at that time was a dog, a Rottweiler: a big, serious dog. When I was kicking around for an idea of what I could do to strike out on my own, I thought why not make something I would want to buy for my dog. After some brainstorming, I came up with a big, virtually indestructible dog toy, called the Varsity Ball that wound up retailing for $50. It’s mainly a big ball that the dogs wrestle with outside on their own.

We branded the business Varsity Pets to give it an athletic feel. The Varsity Ball turned out to be a hit and helped me achieve my goal: generating passive income. With that milestone in my rearview, I cast my eyes to a new adventure. It was around this time while researching the pet-care industry I discovered that, more often than not, pets in the western world are incredibly unhealthy.

Many are downright overweight or even obese. I knew pet owners loved their companions as much as I did – there had to be a way to effectively get our smallest family members the nutrition they truly needed.

Chris Lustrino

At that point what did you do?

Daniel Schulof

It was no easy task, but I worked for four years on dog food. I kept coming across all sorts of science that says carbohydrates are bad for dogs. It blew my mind, and that was when I decided to make a product that was low on carbs.

Thus, in the spring of 2017, I branded this new business KetoNatural Pet Foods. The idea itself had merit, and we raised startup capital from some Angel Investors who were attracted to the idea.

With these funds, we spent the summer of 2017 developing the formula and doing R&D. All that hard work paid off, and we introduced the product in December 2017 and officially took it to market early this year.

Chris Lustrino

For the layman, how would you describe Ketonatural?

Daniel Schulof

At our core, we are trying to provide dogs and cats with food that is low-carbohydrate and high in protein. We believe if given a convenient, reasonably-p riced kibble product consumers will choose us every time.

Research, evidence-based thinking, and self-education have become familiar concerning human nutrition, but it is woefully lagging in the pet world. Despite this, we all love our pets, so it’s a real problem.

In addition to offering high-quality products, we are trying to elevate the level of scientific discourse surrounding pet health and nutrition issues. We are trying not just to provide products and services that help pets, but we are trying to empower consumers, dog-owners, cat-owners, with the knowledge so they can make the best decisions for their pets.

Chris Lustrino

Who is your target consumer?

Daniel Schulof

The target consumer in the short run is a dog owner who identifies as being a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet believer. As we get bigger, we will aim to expand that circle. We will be much more about trying to communicate with everyday dog owners why they ought to be keto diet people.

Chris Lustrino

What is stopping others from doing something similar in this space?

Daniel Schulof

There are some intellectual property barriers, but unfortunately with my background in IP law I don’t believe patents provide much protection. Trademarks and branding exercises are quite strong – we are focused on building and protecting our reputation.

If a Purina or a Hill’s Pet Nutrition wanted to create a low carbohydrate diet, I don’t personally think they would have much trouble. However, there is a substantial barrier: their records.

For decades they’ve been telling pet owners that their carbohydrate-full pet food is healthy for dogs. They’ve created billion-dollar brands on this premise. I bet that they will be very slow to do that. The actual competition is going to come from other startups probably.

Chris Lustrino

What is your current distribution strategy?

Daniel Schulof

To start we will focus on specific channels that fit well with our current price point. There is a robust “mom-and-pop” pet retailer sub- industry that we plan to focus on in addition to direct selling online.

With early growth online, a loyal following from Varsity Pets, a uniquely differentiated product offering and an experienced founder, we continue to feel KetoNatural is an excellent opportunity to invest at a low valuation with plenty of upside.

Could it become the next $8 BILLION acquisition in the dog food space? Maybe, maybe not, but it definitely has the makings of a successful dog food brand.

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About: Chris Lustrino

A Boston College Eagle for life, on a mission to democratize startup investing for all people at KingsCrowd, with a passion for Fintech, investing, social impact, doing well and doing good, and an avid runner, cyclist and writer.

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