Oh wow. One of the most enduring jokes of the dotcom bubble period are the pet food startups that tried to make money selling really heavy bags of food online. Amazon.com-backed Pets.com, for example, raised $82.5 million in an IPO in February 2000 before collapsing nine months later.
I mean, really bad idea startups are launched every day. But back then they’d get $100 million in capital and an IPO before faceplanting.
Anyway, zoom forward to today. There are lots of companies that sell pet food online with a reasonable business model. You can buy those 40 lb bags of food anywhere from Amazon to Petco. They charge as much as $15 for shipping, but for some customers that’s better than driving to the store every month.
Petflow, a just launched startup, has raised $5 million from Westwood Ventures, to try their hand at this as well. Like Alice.com, Petflow is designed primarily to get people set up with the food they want and then have it delivered on a regular schedule automatically. Their prices are competitive based on a quick comparison of Eukanuba dog food. And shipping is a flat $5 on orders over $20, which is lower than anyone else that I can find.
Will it thrive? The company is profitable on each transaction, they say, although they are eating some of the shipping cost. The user experience is very well done and I like the auto delivery feature.
As long as they stay away from Super Bowl commercials for now, they may have a shot.