MySimplePetLab, a Minneapolis maker of in-home pet diagnostic tests, is planning to scale up operations in 2023, including expanding the availability of its products to pet owners nationwide via one of the largest retailers in the nation.
In the second quarter of 2023, the company’s test kits will be available on Target.com, exactly one year after the startup’s executives engaged with Target leaders through the Minneapolis-based retailer’s accelerator for consumer product businesses.
The test kits are already available on Walmart.com and Amazon.com and with online pet pharmacy Allivet, in addition to the MySimplePetLab website. The company’s kits also can be purchased through various veterinary clinics and animal-care service businesses like boarders and groomers.
In late spring and early summer of this year, the leaders of MySimplePetLabs participated in Target Takeoff, a free six-week business accelerator for consumer goods in the pet, beauty, baby, and food and beverage categories. During the accelerator, the company’s leaders gained insight into the retailers’ pet strategy.
“Pet parents want more control over their pet’s health and wellness routines, and wellness is no longer about food and treats,” said MySimplePetLab Chief Executive Jen Hagness. “It includes access to proper care, exercise, behavioral and emotional health. They know that wellness is … about exercise and anxiety and ways we’re coming to our dogs and cats to make sure they are healthy and happy.”
By 2030, consumers will spend an estimated $275 billion on their pets each year, according to financial services firm Morgan Stanley.
The plan for 2023 is for the bulk of MySimplePetLab’s business, about 75%, to come through animal health service networks like clinics and groomers, Hagness said. The remaining 25% will be achieved in retail partnerships.
Dog and cat owners who lack a primary vet, or who want to avoid waiting weeks until their pet can be examined by a vet, can order the test kits to help determine causes of things like ear infections and diarrhea. Pet owners put samples of their pets’ fur or bodily fluids in the provided package and mail it back to the company’s testing laboratory in Colorado. Within days, pet owners receive results of those tests via email, which can be shared and discussed with veterinarians.
The results also can be shared with pet boarders and groomers. An online portal for owners grants access to information on their pets, including previous test results.
The expansion comes on the heels of a $5 million, Series A capital campaign led by Mars Companion Fund, a New York-based group that invests in innovative pet care companies.
The capital is being applied toward production, adding employees, expanding lab space in Denver, and opening a headquarters in Minneapolis, Hagness said. By the end of 2023, Hagness expects MySimplePetLabs to have more than 30 employees. The facility in Denver also serves as a fulfillment center.
In August 2021, the company closed on a $1.6 million round of seed funding.
MySimplePetLab was formed in 2019 by co-founders and doctors of veterinary medicine Dr. Nancy Willerton and Dr. Dennis Chmiel. Hagness, who spent the past 20 years growing and scaling consumer brands with Target and at companies like Caribou Coffee and direct-to-consumer retailer Brandless, joined in 2020.
Willerton and Chmiel were known associates for more than 20 years and collaborated to increase access to pet care after seeing a slowdown in the profession, a trend that would lead to the demand of pet care outpacing the amount of vets in the market. That trend was exacerbated by the pandemic and will likely continue for another decade, Chmiel said.