After winning the Manufacturing Entrepreneur of the Year award at the Great British Entrepreneur Awards, I caught up with Guy Blaskey from Pooch & Mutt to talk about his award.
Tell us a bit about your story and the business…
In 2007 my family dog, a chocolate labrador called “Cookie”, was diagnosed with a condition called hip dysplasia. We were told that she would need a hip replacement by the time she was 3 and would have a reduced quality of life. We started to treat her with a mobility supplement made by my mum’s horse feed company, Blue Chip. The horse supplement worked brilliantly, but it wasn’t 100% perfect for dogs, and it came in a 20kg bag.
At the time I had just set up a marketing consultancy and thought that launching a range of dog health supplements would be a good side project, and a good way to test some marketing techniques. In 2008, I launched Pooch & Mutt with 2 health supplements for dogs. These quickly built a strong reputation. In 2012, I had quite a few ideas brewing for different supplements, and thought it would be good to turn them into a range of healthy, functional treats. These launched in 2013 and have been hugely successful. We followed up the success of the treats with a new range of functional, healthy, grain-free dog foods that launch in May this year, and which have already exceeded expectations.
What was your immediate reaction to winning the award?
I thought that I might have had an outside chance of getting the third place in the awards. The competition was so strong I didn’t even entertain the idea of winning. When third place was read out on the night I was disappointed not to get it, I held out for second, but didn’t get that, so switched off a bit, feeling dejected…I was totally shocked when my name was read out in first place, it took a few seconds to sink in.
Then, as well as being shocked and amazed I was just really looking forward to getting my prize from Giles Brandreth – he was hilarious!
What do you think it was about your story or your business that impressed the judges?
I filled in the award entry myself, I didn’t get a PR or member of staff to do it. What I think comes from this is the sense of honesty, authenticity and transparency that is a common streak in everything that we do at Pooch & Mutt.
It is obviously important to me that we build a profitable business, but it is not our No. 1 priority. The most important thing is that we do what we can to help as many dogs as possible lead happy, healthy lives. We do this not just through the products that we make, but also through our work with dog charities and organisations.
What does it mean to win the award?
It is fantastic that the company, the brand, the products and the team get the recognition that they deserve. The majority of dog food and treats sold in the UK is a lot lower quality than most people would think…. if they think about the quality of their dog food at all. It is great that a high quality dog nutrition company is getting noticed and people are realising that there are better options for their dogs.
How important are the Great British Entrepreneur Awards in making entrepreneurs aware that their work does not go unnoticed?
The Awards are fantastic, and any work done to improve the profile of entrepreneurs is great. More and more young people are now in the mindset that they should start their own companies, instead of working for others.
Improving the profile of entrepreneurs and their stories helps to encourage young people to follow this entrepreneurial path. It was also great to meet other people in similar situations on the night.
What do you think the award will do for your business?
Only time will tell!! We are considering a crowdfunding scheme for next year. I like the idea of thousands of dog owners taking part ownership of Pooch & Mutt with me. Having the backing of the awards adds a lot of credibility to company, which will help with whetting the appetite of the crowd.