THE PACK, Leading the Plant Based Pet Food Movement in the UK

Damien Clarkson, Judy Nadel, Russell White, and Michiel van Deursen, co-founders of THE PACK (from left to right).

From February through May 2021, 8 pet care startups from 5 different countries joined the Leap Venture Studio to enhance their business plans, prepare for fundraising milestones, and establish minimum viable brands. Learn more about each startup and their leaders through our blog series on Cohort 4. We asked each founder questions about their startup journey, who inspires them, and of course a little bit about their pets!

THE PACK. (London): THE PACK are on a mission to cook-up delicious, drool-inducing, plant-based meals for every dog bowl in the world. A kind that’s better for dogs, and the planet too. THE PACK is building a community of pups and pet parents alike on their journey to transform the pet food space.

Damien Clarkson, Co-Founder:

What inspired you to build your pet care startup?

Damien: Firstly, we love animals and pets have had a profound impact upon all of us during our lives. A few years ago, we started to think about pet food and felt deeply that as a society we needed to do better by the animals we loved. This inspired us to start thinking about what better food for our pets could look like. We felt that there was a massive need for innovation in pet food that used science to harness the power of a diverse range of plant-based proteins. This is why we created THE PACK, to give pet parents like us the choice of drool-inducing, healthy plant-based food that is good for their dogs and helps tackle the climate crisis.

Tell us about any pets you have! How did your relationship with your pet inspire your business?

Damien: We (Damien and Judy Nadel, Co-Founder) have the most wonderful little puppy called Blossom. We want her to live a healthy and fulfilled life and creating pet food products that are abundant in healthy ingredients gives us great pleasure. Our other co-founders, Russell White and Michiel van Deursen, are pet mad too. Russell has a 4 year old Terrier called Aldara and Michiel has a kitten called Loki. As pet parents, we all want the best for our pets — they are cherished parts of our family. Whenever we need motivation, we look at our pet companions and we are again motivated because we know we are ultimately creating products to help pets like them.

Now a few weeks into the Leap Venture Studio, what has been the most beneficial part of the accelerator program?

Damien: It has been incredible to speak to so many fellow founders and pet care professionals who have shared their expertise and experience with us. It really feels like we are now part of the global community of pet care startups changing pet health for the better. Knowing that you’re part of a movement to improve pet care is very motivating and the fact that the Leap cohort and alumni community is global has meant that we have all been able to benefit greatly from sharing knowledge with each other.

What has been an unexpected upside of the pandemic?

Damien: It has enabled us more time for the deep strategic work that goes into building a great company. The pandemic has seen a sharp rise in pet ownership and we are excited to develop lots of educational content to support pet parents in providing a lifelong journey for their pet companions. It is great that so many people are bringing a pet companion into their lives — we want to be one of the companies that plays a positive part in creating the next generation of healthy dogs.

What are your goals for this year?

Damien: We’re launching this spring in the UK direct to consumers on www.thepackpet.com before going into select European markets later in the year. Our goal is of course to get lots of dogs eating THE PACK, and to get some tails wagging too.

What entrepreneurs/leaders do you look up to?

Damien: Here in the UK, Mark Constainine the founder of LUSH.

What is the best movie, podcast, or book you’ve discovered in the past year?

The best books I’ve read are Super Pumped: The Battle For Uber by Mike Issac, Billion Dollar Whale by Tom Wright and Bradley Hope, and We Are The Weather by Jonathan Safran Foer. The best podcasts I’ve listened to are The Wall Street Journal Daily and Acquired. The best movie is Seaspiracy.

What advice would you give to other founders just starting their journey?

Damien: Don’t underestimate how much grit and resilience it takes to be a startup founder. You will be stretched beyond belief at times, so it is really important to invest your time in a business idea you are truly passionate about because having that mission will enable you to push through the tough times.

Join us on Thursday, May 6th at 10am PT for the Leap Venture Studio Demo Day to celebrate these incredible founders that are forging new trails in the $100 billion pet care industry! The event will be streamed through YouTube Live (link coming soon). Each company will present a pitch deck on their company and answer questions in the live chat.

A smarter world for pets & their people starts here. Partnership between Michelson Found Animals and Kinship, a division of Mars Petcare.

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