NomNomNow: Providing pet health via customized pet food

At just four years old, NomNomNow, a human-grade, fresh pet food company is aiming beyond pet food for ‘nose-to-tail’ pet health.

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NomNomNow co-founder and CXO, Alexandria Jarell, says the company’s mission began when Mini Australian Shepherd Harlee required a special diet due to a compromised immune system. The search for an easy-to-digest, byproduct-free, nutrient-rich formula eventually led to NomNomNow’s founding. | Photo courtesy NomNomNow
NomNomNow co-founder and CXO, Alexandria Jarell, says the company’s mission began when Mini Australian Shepherd Harlee required a special diet due to a compromised immune system. The search for an easy-to-digest, byproduct-free, nutrient-rich formula eventually led to NomNomNow’s founding. | Photo courtesy NomNomNow

In the nearly four years since fresh pet food company NomNomNow was founded in 2015, the business has grown from a four-person operation out of a tiny San Francisco, California, USA, apartment to a Series-A startup with close to 100 employees serving customers all over the United States. The company has moved operations into two, 100-percent-owned-and-operated production facilities, one in the San Francisco Bay Area and one in Nashville, Tennessee, USA (opened in 2018).

The goal: total pet health

How has NomNomNow achieved such significant growth in a relatively short period of time? According to co-founder and chief experience officer (CXO), Alexandria Jarrell, the company has one primary goal that drives all business moves.

“Our intention is to become a nose-to-tail pet health company that nourishes both pets and pet parents with products and services backed by experts,” says Jarrell. “Our greatest opportunity comes from the shift in the way people see their pets. Pets, now more than ever, are truly part of the family. The macro ‘humanization’ trend has resulted in many trends in the human food industry being played out in the pet space. People want trustworthy brands, healthier ingredients, more convenience and more personalization.”

Nomnomnow Ingredients

All of NomNomNow’s pet food products are made-to-order fresh every week, from whole, restaurant-quality ingredients and never frozen. | Photo courtesy NomNomNow

NomNomNow aims to meet all those customer wants with its pet foods — fresh, human-grade products custom formulated by board-certified veterinary nutritionist and Chief Nutrition Officer Dr. Justin Shmalberg and shipped directly to pet owners on a recurring basis.

“We see pet health as a long-term journey and we hope to be a partner to all pet parents out there, starting with proper nutrition as preventative medicine and equipping pet owners with all the tools and resources they need to help their pets live long and happy lives,” says Jarrell.

Tackling pet nutrition from multiple angles

Among the benefits NomNomNow offers its customers is a focus on proper portioning. Meals are custom-portioned for each pet, eliminating the risk of unintentional overfeeding or underfeeding.

“[One] focus area for us is weight management for pets,” says Jarrell. “With pet obesity continuing to rise, the pre-portioned nature of our food will be a key selling point for NomNomNow. In addition, our algorithm automatically adjusts portions to accommodate pets as they lose or gain weight on the path to their ideal weight.”

The company’s focus on pet health goes beyond pet food and weight management. In October 2018, the business released NomNomNow:INSIGHTS Microbiome Testing Kit for Pets.

“This is an easy-to-use at-home testing kit that allows pet parents to send in a sample of their pet's stool, which we then analyze and send back a report with the results,” says Jarrell. “This report provides a great baseline for the health of a pet's gut bacteria. We then store that information within each pet's profile on our site so that the test can be done again and again throughout a pet's life, tracking the changes within his or her microbiome.”

The test can highlight indicators that can then be used to inform dietary or supplemental changes, such as adding a prebiotic or probiotic into a pet's nutritional regimen, to make pets feel their best.

In November 2018, the company launched NomNomNow:SUPPORT, expanding beyond pet food with a line of probiotics. The inaugural product is Full Spectrum Probiotics for Dogs, a probiotic and prebiotic blend designed for maintaining overall pet health, specifically the canine intestinal tract.

“We want to continue to push the envelope with innovative solutions in customization and personalization of nutrition and pet health,” says Jarrell.

When NomNomNow talks about pet nutrition, it doesn’t just mean dogs. In May 2018, the company launched NomNomNow for Cats, the world’s first and only made-to-order fresh nutrition for cats, available in two recipes: Flavorful Fish Feast and Chicken Chow-Meow. The microbiome kit can be ordered for cats, and the company also offers two treats for both dogs and cats: Beef Jerky and Chicken Jerky.

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NomNomNow has four different recipes for dogs and two for cats — they are the first to provide fresh, customizable pet food options for cats, according to the company. | Photo courtesy NomNomNow

Continuing to succeed with the right people

 The success of NomNomNow’s business model is highly dependent on having the right people working for the company.

“All of our products and resources are backed by experts and science, which is one of our core touchpoints as a company,” says Jarrell. “From [Shmalberg] to Dr. Ryan Honaker (the director of microbiology) to our Science Advisory Board, which includes Dr. Jan Suchodolski (associate professor and associate director of the GI Lab, Texas A&M University) and Dr. Kelly Swanson (Kraft Heinz Company endowed professor in human nutrition, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), our experts drive innovation for NomNomNow.”

It’s a strategy that’s clearly working.

“We've had 650 percent customer growth year-over-year between 2016 and 2017, 490 percent customer growth year-over-year between 2017 and 2018 and our revenue in 2018 increased 400 percent year-over-year (2017–2018),” said Jarrell.

So, what is the company’s biggest challenge in continuing to grow?

“Our biggest challenge is, and will continue to be, a lack of understanding about pet nutrition and educating pet parents about the benefits of a fresh diet,” says Jarrell. “Even more important is teaching pet parents about the importance of using nutrition as preventative medicine.”

NomNomNow’s biggest challenge is also its biggest opportunity, and according to Jarrell the company plans to continue pushing forward with pet health and customer education in mind.

“Moving forward, our plan is to continue to expand operations, implement customized machinery that will speed up and improve production processes, and create new products and solutions that will help pet parents understand and manage their pets’ health,” she says.

 

 

Take two: Pet food industry predictions

Alexandria Jarrell, co-founder and CXO of NomNomNow

  1. “Overall, we expect to see offerings in the pet nutrition space with better-quality ingredients. We also anticipate increased personalization based on additional learnings and stronger customer relationships. These changes will also be driven by the continued rise of e-commerce.”
  2. “Tools like bacterial DNA sequencing are the next level of scientific and technological advancement that will take customized nutrition to the next level, and we are in the process of rolling out products that reflect those advancements.”

 

Fast Facts

nomnomnow-logo

Headquarters: Oakland, CA

Officers: Nate Phillips, CEO and co-founder; Alex Jarrell, chief experience officer and co-founder; Zach Phillips, chief operations officer and co-founder; Wenzhe Gao, chief technology officer and co-founder; Dr. Justin Shmalberg, chief nutrition officer and board-certified veterinary nutritionist

Brands: N/A

Website/Social Media: www.nomnomnow.com; Facebook.com/getnonomnow; @nom_nom_now on Twitter and Instagram

Notable: NomNomNow cooks each pet's meals fresh-to-order. The company only produces exactly what has been ordered each week and does not store any inventory. Because of this, NomNomNow's production facilities create zero food waste.

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