The pandemic is a good time to be in the cat food business – and many others | Gene Marks

There is a global pandemic going on. Hundreds of thousands of people have died. Millions are sick. An economic disaster has hit countries all over the world. Hey, anyone interested in some delicious cat food?

Seems like a strange question to ask. But not for owners of Smalls, a “direct-to-consumer” manufacturer of pet food products geared specifically to cats. Last week, the company raised $9 million in a funding round that raised its total capital to $12 million. They have just started.

“Cat parents want to give their cats the absolute best, but the majority of what is actually available is junk food, disguised as healthy food,” said Matt Michaelson, who founded the company with his friend Calvin Boone.

But this is not just a story about two men who love cats.

It’s good news for a small business story that has received little attention at a time when many small businesses are publicly failing, millions are unemployed, and economic output is falling sharply. why?

Perhaps because we do not want to diminish the plight of struggling companies. Or maybe it’s because the media just likes to emphasize the negative and ignore the positive. Or maybe it’s just that some people don’t really care what their cat eats, and if that’s the real reason, then shame on them!

The truth is that in the midst of all the bad economic news some businesses continue to thrive and that while many small businesses are going through a lot of hardships, there are many other small business owners and entrepreneurs who are stepping up to achieve their goals and make their dreams come true. They are there, raising capital, working harder than ever, making products and providing services.

Take the cat food market, for example. Thanks to so many people being quarantined, pet adoptions are on the rise. Rescue centers from Kansas to Colorado carried out dogs and cats. Companies offer stipends to help their employees defray the cost of pet adoption and ownership. One company hosts Zoom meetings on a regular basis…for dogs. “In the first few weeks of stay-at-home requests, the ASPCA saw a nearly 70 percent increase in the number of animals going into foster homes through adoption programs in New York and Los Angeles, compared to the same period in 2019,” Krista Chadwick, vice-president. Shelter Services of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals for US News & World Report.

All of this means opportunities for companies in the pet industry. Companies like Smalls.

According to a TechCrunch report, the company has “several thousand” active subscribers to its products, which are more than four times more than the previous year. The pandemic has caused some supply chain challenges, but Michaelson said the massive increase in pet adoption has prompted some pet owners to “look for alternatives” to their local pet store. “Because we’re seeing this big movement toward the direct-to-consumer side of things with Covid, it’s really an opportunity to adapt to that and grow faster,” he said.

Major economic disruptions can lead to lost sales, lost profits, and even bankruptcy for some small businesses. But for others, it opens up new markets and opportunities. E-commerce sales are up this year. Seasoned restaurants have focused on delivery and pop-up offerings. Fast-thinking manufacturers are retooling protective gear and other healthcare items. Oh, and two best friends who started out cooking cat food in their Brooklyn kitchen are now expanding their plant in Chicago after raising $9 million.

It’s a good time to eat cat food.

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