FreeHand launched its superpremium dog food diets in June 2012. â€œ[We]Â developed what we believe to be the best, complete, balanced, natural and holistic ingredient panel in the superpremium petfood category,â€ 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). â€œWe 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.â€
Another competitive advantage for FreeHand, according to Bagamane, is the companyâ€™s unique pound-for-pound donation model. â€œSince our June launch, FreeHandâ€”through our resellersâ€”has supplied more than 16,000 pounds, or 46,000 meals, to homeless dogs in our US market areas,â€ says Bagamane. rescueONE is FreeHandâ€™s premium product that is donated exclusively (the product is not available for sale) to rescue organizations and municipal shelters through the companyâ€™s buy-one, give-one model.
â€œWe 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,â€ Bagamane explains. â€œOur 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.â€ According to FreeHand, if given a chance to choose a competitive product that would help a rescue versus one that doesnâ€™t, research shows that over 90% would choose the product that does good.Â
So how does this do-good business model work? Qualified rescues direct their adoptive pet parents and supporters to FreeHandâ€™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. â€œThe last decade has seen too many charitable organizations and individuals called out for not delivering on their promises,â€ observes Bagamane. â€œIt is important for us to be transparent so when a consumer buys our product they donâ€™t have to go very far to see their donation in action.â€Â
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 BublÃ©.Â Bagamane says he is sure the new owners are going to make a powerful impact on getting the word out about their mission.Â â€œRyan has indicated he will promote the product through his TV shows and other businesses and hopes the product will become a staple of Hollywood,â€ says Bagamane.Â
â€œAt 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,â€ he says. â€œIt 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.â€