Startup Q&A: Biscuit app for pet owners
Hi Claire! What's your elevator pitch?
Biscuit’s vision is to positively impact pet wellbeing. We’ll achieve this by making pet wellbeing easy, fun, and rewarding for both pets and their owners.
We offer a unique rewards programme (initially for dogs) delivered through the Biscuit app, where pet owners earn Biscuits (points) for completing different activities, all aimed at enhancing the health and wellbeing of pets. Owners exchange Biscuits for rewards including money off shopping vouchers and pet care services.
Core to our proposition is a focus on activity – being one of the main ways to encourage physical and emotional wellbeing – our proprietary algorithm calculates daily and weekly activity goals personalised for each pet dependent on their breed and age.
Why does the market need it?
Biscuit supports pet owners to make the right choices and act in the best interest of their pet’s individual needs. By incentivising and rewarding pet owners for their engagement with the app’s wellbeing activities, we hope to engender a nation of healthier, happier pets whilst reducing the cost and uncertainty of pet ownership.
Where is the business today?
The venture launched in March 2022 and in just nine months we achieved our first year’s targets - with over 50,000 users joining and pet owners earning a total £150,000 via Biscuit’s 30+ reward partners – we’re now entering the scale up phase and plan to hire and double the team size and user base over the next 12 months.
What made you think there was money in this?
The wellbeing issues affecting our nation’s pets (obesity, anxiety, unwanted behaviours, preventable conditions) are very evident and are frequently covered in media stories. My co-founder, Justin Dexter and I saw an opportunity to address these issues and help pet owners become better pet parents.
We’ve seen behavioural economics theory applied in the human space with a significant degree of success, our challenge is to replicate and improve on this in the pet space.
What's your biggest strength?
We believe there is real value in Biscuit’s ability to build a composite pet wellbeing and behavioural data asset. The data strategy was forefront to our programme design and technology architecture. We analyse key metrics daily to ensure we continue to drive engagement and are able to dynamically adjust our incentives accordingly.
Both Justin and I worked as senior managers in the pet health space for several years, where we saw a gap in the market for Biscuit. With a core team of six and technology development agency, Rocketmakers, we’ve brought the concept to life.
Our traction to date – £3 million seed funding secured from Correlation One Holdings joining the group’s portfolio of pet businesses, and more than 60,000 app downloads and over 50,000 users in our first nine months proves the concept has been welcomed by our nation's pet parents.
What is the secret to making the business work?
For a long time, it was just Justin and I working to bring Biscuit to life. However, when we started to think about growing the team, defining the culture that we wanted for the business was a top priority.
Thinking about it, I believe defining our culture began earlier than hiring for our first employees, I think it started when we developed the Biscuit brand, our culture is an extension of the work we did back then. We identified how we wanted customers to think and feel about Biscuit, this has transcended into our culture - how we want team members to think and feel about Biscuit and working for the company.
The challenge going forward, as we grow, will be keeping the special culture that we’ve created.
How do you market the company?
The Biscuit App recently ranked number 1 on both App Stores in their free-to-use Health and Fitness app categories. This was great exposure for us that we hadn’t ever dreamt possible in our first year of business but is testimony to having a product that people want to use, extract value from and so keep returning.
We have a website to support the promotion of the App as well as a presence on our key social media channels. To date, we haven’t experimented with paid advertising as a source to acquire new users as we’ve been fortunate to benefit from word-of-mouth referrals and social posts by our existing member base. However, this is something we’re likely to explore in 2023 as part of our wider marketing strategy and we’re also rolling out some PR campaigns to capitalise on the increased word of mouth approach.
Being clear and transparent across all our communication channels is a key element of the Biscuit brand. We purposefully have a tone of voice that is caring, reassuring and open because we understand the bond that owners have with their pets and want our customers to engage in conversation with us about their lives with their four-legged friends.
What funding do you have? Is it enough?
Biscuit has secured £3m in seed funding and is part of the Correlation One Holdings portfolio of pet businesses. The traction we’ve seen in the first nine months is very encouraging and instils confidence in the pet wellbeing programme that we’ve delivered to date. Further investment, when sought, will help us to build on our early success and ensure we achieve the longer-term vision for Biscuit.
Tell us about the business model
The primary objective at this stage is to build an engaged user base who frequently use key interactions in the app – including those relating to their pet’s wellbeing and our ecosystem of partners. As an early-stage business, the specifics of the revenue and business model will continue to be refined as we learn more about our user base, however, the majority of our partners contribute to the cost of the incentives and provide cost effective customer acquisition through promotion to their customers.
What were you doing before?
Prior to co-founding Biscuit, I gained valuable experience from roles in R&D, marketing and business strategy and held senior positions in several health tech and insurance businesses where I met my co-founder Justin so we’re both driven by a shared interest to improve the pet healthcare market.
As a pet parent to two dogs and a cat I have a genuine determination to deliver positive outcomes (both business and social) for the good of our pets and their parents and see technology being instrumental to this.
What is the future vision?
We’re expecting the pace of the next 12 months to be a step up from the previous 12 months, and that’s been fast!
Plans for 2023 include introducing more elements of pet wellbeing into the app. 2022 has mainly focused on the physical activity of pets, so adding new wellbeing badges for owners to complete will help to broaden the proposition.
We’ll also be looking to bolster our rewards programme by expanding the number and variety of reward partners available to Biscuit members.
To achieve both of these, we’ll be needing to grow our team, we’re expecting to double in size by the end of the year.