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“Since our June launch, FreeHand—through our resellers—has supplied more than 16,000 pounds, or 46,000 meals, to homeless dogs in our US market areas,” says Tom Bagamane, FreeHand co-founder.
On March 7, 2013

FreeHand rescues dogs with food

This California-based and celebrity-backed petfood brand has a mission to help dogs in need with every product they make

["\"Our goal is to prove we can build a profitable and sustainable business that directly saves lives while investing our dollars into our communities.\"", "“The last decade has seen too many charitable organizations and individuals called out for not delivering on their promises.â€\u009D"]

FreeHand launched its superpremium dog food diets in June 2012. “[We] developed what we believe to be the best, complete, balanced, natural and holistic ingredient panel in the superpremium petfood category,” Tom Bagamane, co-founder and managing director of FreeHand, declares when asked about what sets his company apart from other brands. The three diets are corn, soy and wheat-free and are all made in the US from US sources with two protein exceptions (salmon is sourced from Norway, and lamb from New Zealand). “We are not about chasing trends," says Bagamane. "We are all about giving a dog the best of what he/she needs at every meal. Nothing more, nothing less.”

Another competitive advantage for FreeHand, according to Bagamane, is the company’s unique pound-for-pound donation model. “Since our June launch, FreeHand—through our resellers—has supplied more than 16,000 pounds, or 46,000 meals, to homeless dogs in our US market areas,” says Bagamane. rescueONE is FreeHand’s premium product that is donated exclusively (the product is not available for sale) to rescue organizations and municipal shelters through the company’s buy-one, give-one model.

“We want to be known as the company that busted the traditional business paradigm in the petfood industry. Our goal is to prove we can build a profitable and sustainable business that directly saves lives while investing our dollars into our communities as opposed to funding needless marketing and advertising campaigns,” Bagamane explains. “Our greatest success will come when we have influenced consumer behavior to the point where most consumers are factoring in the impact that products have on their local communities before making a purchase.” According to FreeHand, if given a chance to choose a competitive product that would help a rescue versus one that doesn’t, research shows that over 90% would choose the product that does good. 

So how does this  do-good business model work? Qualified rescues direct their adoptive pet parents and supporters to FreeHand’s local reseller partners. In turn, the shelters receive cost-saving food for their animals, freeing cash for medicine and surgeries. By investing shelf space to FreeHand, resellers get the new flow of those same customers as well as others who want to be aligned with a brand/store that is committed to their communities and local growth. “The last decade has seen too many charitable organizations and individuals called out for not delivering on their promises,” observes Bagamane. “It is important for us to be transparent so when a consumer buys our product they don’t have to go very far to see their donation in action.” 

Ultimately, Bagamane says, awareness  is the key to real growth for the fledgling company. FreeHand was recently purchased by Relativity Media CEO and philanthropist Ryan Kavanaugh and his wife Britta Lazenga-Kavanaugh, along with their high-profile partners, which include former William Morris Agency CEO Jim Wiatt and singer Michael Bublé. Bagamane says he is sure the new owners are going to make a powerful impact on getting the word out about their mission. “Ryan has indicated he will promote the product through his TV shows and other businesses and hopes the product will become a staple of Hollywood,” says Bagamane. 

“At the end of the day, we will save more dogs while proving that you can profit humanity as well as your employees and business partners,” he says. “It has been an amazing first eight months with the multitude of rescue dogs that we have fed, the media attention and all the new locations selling our food. I can't wait to see what the next eight months bring to our young company.”

Business Basics 

Headquarters/Facilities: Santa Monica, California, US
Officers: Tom Bagamane, co-founder and managing director
Brands: Engage, Enrich, Empower, Grain-Free and rescueONE
Distribution: After the company’s initial launch in Southern California, Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, and Indianapolis, Indiana, FreeHand has expanded into the major markets of Austin, Texas, Las Vegas, Nevada, Colorado, New Windsor, New York, and Chicago, Illinois with plans to move into the New York Tri-State area in the coming weeks.
Employees: Six
Website: www.lendafreehand.com

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FreeHand’s dog food line was awarded the Dogington Post’s Gold Medal for Best Dry Dog Food for 2012 and was named one of Pet Product News International's Top 25 to Watch in 2013.
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July 2015

The July 2015 issue of Petfood Industry profiles Plato Pet Treats, a California-based company that makes premium pet treats using the best ingredients available. Learn how Plato uses natural and locally sourced ingredients and makes its products in-house for optimal quality. Also find out how its “Plato Wags Back” program provides support to rescues and shelters that feed and house homeless dogs.

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