It’s a well-known fact that the pet-human bond helps with improved mental health as well as helping people to keep fit and socially active.
Now Deborah Meaden is supporting this year’s BetterWithPets initiative and competition to welcome innovators and social entrepreneurs who are benefiting both pets and humans.
Why did you decide to get involved in this initiative?
The prize is now in its second year and sets out to recognise those inspiring examples of human/animal bond programmes changing lives for the better, to encourage innovation and to celebrate and harness the special relationship between animals and their humans to impact society in a positive way.
I first heard about the prize through Medical Detection Dogs, a Charity very close to my heart and who received a prize last year. I was delighted to be asked to be involved in a competition which combines the things I hold very dear…innovation, entrepreneurship and of course animals.
Is the UK’s pet industry an attractive business sector? Why/whynot?
The UK Pet Industry has been growing steadily in recent years and is set to reach £7bn by 2021, despite pet ownership actually falling. This is because people are spending more on their pets and are keen to keep up with the latest Pet health and even fashion trends. This is a strong sector to invest in but it is also a very crowded Market Place so it is important to understand why a particular product or service would stand out…not just be seen as more of the same.
Have you ever considered setting up a pet business or investing in one?
I invested in Billy and Margot’s nutritious Pet food and treats in Dragons’ Den. It clearly had a place in the market as it was nutrition based and its first two products being iced treats and popcorn were at the time totally new to the market.
What is the one key life-changing business decision you have ever made?
When I sold Weststar Holidays I knew it was probably the last business I would actually work in…but I love business and couldn’t imagine my life without being involved . My decision to become an investor, which coincided with me joining Dragons’ Den took me into the next and very different phase of my business life.
What’s the best business advice you have ever had?
Know what your customers love about you and keep that at the heart of your business.
Should every office have an office dog?
YES YES YES! Check out the Purina Pets at Work initiative too – https://www.purina.co.uk/pins/pets-at-work
If you are a new start-up or young innovator working with animals, you could win more than £90,000 to support the development of your project.
Submit your entry to the BetterwithPets Prize by 28th January, 2020. There are two application streams: piloted/implemented innovations and idea-stage innovations. The latter is specifically aimed at young innovators, from 18 to 25 years old.
For details on the application process, eligibility criteria as well as the terms and conditions, please visit: https://network.changemakers.com/challenge/purinabetterwithpetsprize/brief.