Reddit’s Alexis Ohanian banks on pet wellness industry boom

Ohanian, Will Smith, Nas and other big name investors are backing this dog food startup marketed as wellness for pets

Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian wants to make pet wellness a trending topic.

The serial entrepreneur is investing in healthy dog food startup Jinx, a direct-to-consumer, good-enough-for-humans approach to canine cuisine. He says the pet industry is ripe to disrupt the $4.5 trillion wellness industry.

Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian's investment firm Initialized Capital is leading the first round of funding for premium direct-to-consumer dog food startup Jinx. (Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

“We know that consumers are continuing to embrace healthy, natural, organic options when it comes to their own day-to-day wellness, so it’s no surprise that they’ve extended this approach to how they care for their pets,” Ohanian told FOX Business.

MILLENNIALS RACK-UP MORE DEBT FROM PETS, VETS THAN ANY OTHER GENERATION

Jinx, founded by alums of Casper, the mattress brand that markets to Millennial consumers, has raised $5.6 million led by Ohanian’s venture capital firm Initialized Capital and has attracted investors like Will Smith, rapper NAS, singer Halsey and late-night host and YouTube star Lilly Singh.

HEALTHY PET FOOD BRANDS WITH NATURAL, ORGANIC INGREDIENTS DRIVING SALES

The wellness industry for humans is saturated with everything from CBD to beer being positioned as a healthy or better-for-you product, so its no surprise that investors are starting to tap into the pet industry. Ohanian says that as consumers prioritize their own health and wellness, they’re mirroring those same health preferences on their pets.

“Many pet owners view their pets as integral parts of their family and they care for them as such,"  Ohanian said. "Our generation is even putting off having kids by having a dog instead. In the same way that a parent might rationalize paying more for healthy, organic products for their children, we’re seeing pet owners understand that there’s a premium – albeit a small one – to care for your dog in the way they need to be cared for.”

DOGS, CATS COST AMERICANS MORE THAN $72B IN 2018

Indeed, pet owners spent $73 billion in 2018, an increase of more than $3 billion compared to the previous year, according to the American Pet Products Association. And spending on pet food alone increased by nearly 5 percent between 2017 and 2018 to $30.32 billion, according to the APPA. 

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
CHWY CHEWY INC. 77.22 -0.63 -0.81%
PETM n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a.

More investors like Ohanian are looking for pet-focused startups catering to owners willing to splurge on their furry friends. A separate startup, Because Animals, which is creating pet food made with meat grown from a tissue culture instead of farmed animals, closed a round of seed funding in the fall, and Scratchpay, which provides payment plans for vet care, announced it secured $65 million in debt and equity through a second round of funding last fall. And pet supply company Petco is reportedly in talks to buy dog-walking startup Wag, according to Recode. Chewy, meanwhile, went public in 2019 and announced a 43 percent increase in its sales.

Ohanian, who is married to 23-time Grand Slam tennis champion Serena Williams and father to their 2-year-old daughter, Alexis Olympia, has also taken on the role of dog dad to Williams’ Instagram-famous Yorkie Chip, who has amassed more than 11,000 followers on the photo-sharing app.

The couple prioritizes supporting health and wellness-focused businesses. Separately, Williams was a lead investor in paleo-friendly, vegan and gluten-free frozen meal company Daily Harvest, while Ohanian's investment company backs 7 Cups, a self-help startup that connects users to free emotional support along with plant-based, dairy-free ice cream startup Eclipse Foods.

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