Big dogs won’t play, so start-up entrepreneur sinks his teeth into pet grooming venture
Wednesday, August 21, 2013/
Former real estate entrepreneur Steven Deveraux-Stanford launched his second start-up three weeks ago and is flat out meeting incoming orders for his all-natural pet grooming products.
He decided to move back into start-ups after looking for work and being told by larger companies that he was “too entrepreneurial”.
Deveraux-Stanford had previously worked as a real estate entrepreneur in Sydney, specialising in luxury properties valued at over $3 million.
After selling his real estate agency and moving to Melbourne, he struggled to find work with established real estate firms who were nervous about hiring an ex-small business owner.
“It was hard to find work here. I kept being told I was over-qualified and too entrepreneurial, and wouldn’t work in a large corporate company,” Deveraux-Stanford told StartupSmart. “So I thought if no one is going to invest in me, I will, so I got stuck into this idea.”
His new start-up idea, Ivory Coat Companion Goods, was born in October last year, when he saw a gap in the market for products for sensitive-skinned pets.
“I have miniature schnauzer, Cooper, who has very sensitive skin. I went to one of the large chains looking for a less harsh product,” Deveraux-Stanford says, adding that he couldn’t find any products with all-natural ingredients. “I thought we needed to do better, and we could, so we did.”
Working with a team of chemists and veterinary microbiologists, he developed a line of seven all-natural grooming products for sensitive animal skin.
The products are already selling in boutique pet stores and vet clinics in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia. Deveraux-Stanford has signed up a Victorian distributor and is fielding inquiries from London.
“We’d like to stay boutique, as that’s our brand. It’s not necessarily for a Woolworths or Coles. The perception of brands matter, so we’re focused on groomers and vets for now,” Deveraux-Stanford says.
“I know we’re competing against large players in the industry with brands that are owned by Mars, Proctor & Gamble, Nestle and Blackmores. These are not small companies, and there are only a handful of small boutique brands doing well.”
Market research group IBISWorld says the Australian pet products and services industry earned about $6 billion in revenue last year and has grown by 0.9% each year since 2008.
IBISWorld says in a report that “over 60% of households own a pet, with over 50% owning either a dog or a cat”.
“Over the past five years, owners have become more concerned about the health of their pets, spending extra on preventive and elective veterinary services. At the same time, they have been able to pamper their pets due to rising wealth and disposable income,” it says.
Deveraux-Stanford’s company received a start-up grant from the City of Melbourne earlier this year. It included an $18,500 cash injection, but also access to mentoring and the City of Melbourne’s China office.
“We’d like to be international by the end of the year, but our focus is on building up a presence in Australia first,” Deveraux-Stanford says. “But access and support from the China office is really exciting for us.”
A cultural war: What Hayne's report means for fintechs, accountants and small-business lending Charlotte Petris Timelio founder
In a perfect world: Canva's Melanie Perkins dreams about the future of Australian startups Melanie Perkins Canva co-founder
Swipe right for (data) validation: What dating apps can teach us about data security Leah Callon-Butler intimate.io co-founder
How do Australian startups tap into the $140 billion of dry powder sitting in the US? Andrea Kowalski Bailador partner
No silver bullet: Four steps to find the perfect sales and marketing channel for your startup Vinne Schifferstein Vidal Botown founder
Buzinga to Appster: An insider's theory on why the app giants keep falling Joseph Russell DreamWalk Apps co-founder
Got brand goals? The four most marketable sports of 2019 Andrew Montesi Pickstar head of marketing
What founders can do now to prepare for a possible 2019 recession Les Szekely EVP co-founder