By Dave Hendrick
A bottle of RestoraPet supplement for dogs.
Health and wellness for pets is a rapidly growing market, and a University of Virginia Darden School of Business Executive MBA student is at the forefront of the emerging space. Brian Larsen (Class of 2020) is the co-founder, president and CEO of RestoraPet Inc., a health supplement company for pets, including dogs, cats and even horses, that has entered a period of rapid growth.
In a recent profile in The Washington Post, Larsen details the origin of the company — he began working toward the founding of RestoraPet after watching the demise of a beloved pet — and its recent success. The 15-person company moved into new, expanded headquarters outside of Washington, D.C., in October, and expects to to reach $10 million in revenue in 2020.
From The Washington Post business columnist Thomas Heath:
I visited RestoraPet’s factory and offices a few weeks ago. There were yellow barrels housing 250 gallons of Tunisian olive oil that serve as a base for the supplement. There was a new, $220,000 assembly line that fills more than 1 million 2-ounce bottles each year.
RestoraPet comes in bacon, beef or no flavor for dogs, tuna for cats, and apple-carrot for horses. Owners can either sprinkle a few drops in their pets’ food or in their mouths. The company has 10,000 or so regular customers and thousands of followers on Facebook and Instagram.
The company is in the fifth year of a business model built around cultivating a recurring revenue stream. Though carried by a handful of independent pet stores and veterinarian offices, most sales are done online. The company is now moving toward a subscription model. A month’s supply currently runs about $30.
“Everybody loves the subscription model,” Larsen said. “If they have to keep ordering it, they will forget to come back and buy it. Then their pet has regressed.”
Larsen also discussed his decision to pursue an MBA.
Larsen is currently earning a master’s in business administration from the University of Virginia Darden School of Business.
“I wanted to round out my business skills,” he said.
It was a fellow Darden student — a service member working on his MBA — who helped Larsen connect with [RestoraPet investor Morton] Meyerson. The Texan has a long history of hiring and supporting veterans and was coming off a failed attempt to get cannabis legalized in his state as treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder in the military.
“So I turned my attention to pets,” Meyerson said. “I am a dog lover. I have had many dachshunds. I wanted something that had a chance of helping pets for anxiety and for arthritis as they get old. Once I decided that, I discovered what Brian was doing, and it was a perfect fit.
“I met him. I liked him,” Meyerson said of Larsen. “I put all this together and asked the question, ‘If you had access to more capital, could you grow faster and do a better job?’ ”
Read the full story in The Washington Post and listen to a Darden Executive MBA podcast featuring Larsen.
About the University of Virginia Darden School of Business
The University of Virginia Darden School of Business delivers the world’s best business education experience to prepare entrepreneurial, global and responsible leaders through its MBA, Ph.D., MSBA and Executive Education programs. Darden’s top-ranked faculty is renowned for teaching excellence and advances practical business knowledge through research. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.
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