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PetPlate founder delivering healthy pet food options to BIPOC pet owners

Renaldo Webb started the dog food company after recognizing income and marketing disparities in the global pet food industry.

PetPlate founder delivering healthy pet food options to BIPOC pet owners
The homepage of PetPlate's website. JORDAN MAXWELL SCREENSHOT

When Renaldo Webb’s dog was diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), he knew he had to act quickly to change his pet's diet.

He had an inkling that many products on the market don’t provide pets with proper nutrition. After all, he had previously worked as a business analyst for pet food brands — he knew what some brands used to make dog food. So, he began working on his recipes, educating himself on whole food nutrition.

Soon after, Webb started a company called PetPlate, based in New York. Recently, the company secured more than $21 million in funding thus far and has delivered more than 15 million meals and treats to pet owners and dogs across the country.

“We’re really focused on getting human-grade nutrition in the hands of folks that may not be able to afford our current, standard, fresh-cooked products,” Webb told Essence. “That’s something that we always think about. But I think at first, we’re trying to approach the problem of realizing that there are many pet parents that look exactly like me, and our goal is to make sure that they know that there’s space for them and products for them developed by folks that look like them as well, which I think is just important. We love our pets like family. It’s time to show that love through their food.”

Delivering fresh dog food through its subscription service, Webb says that supporting people who may not have access to clean, healthy food for their pets is top of mind for the company.

“Whether their dogs are suffering with some of the similar ailments that my first dog was suffering with, or they were dealing with the dog being a picky eater or themselves, were very passionate about what they put in their bodies and wanted to do the same for their pets. So, that was really the thesis and the motivation for me to launch PetPlate,” Webb said.

The pet industry has an estimated value of $147 billion, according to Essence. While the sector caters its marketing largely to white consumers, Webb says, the company is also aiming to appeal to Black people and individuals of colour.

“I think that representation matters, right? And a lot of times, when you look at the marketing materials used and how some of these pet companies are looking to speak to their consumers, they may not really resonate in some ways with folks of our colour. We’ve really tried to take a different approach on that in PetPlate in terms of the folks that we have on staff, the things we talk about, and the things we highlight in our marketing material,” he said.