New Hope Network and Factory have teamed up to present the first annual Pet Innovation Challenge in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, October 2-3, 2019. Factory is an operating company with $250 million of investable capital that acquires meaningful equity stakes in high potential food, beverage and pet health companies. This go around, pet companies are the name of the game.
The Pet Innovation Challenge is rooted in collaboration, problem-solving and connection. Day One is like a Shark Tank-style pitch event where presenting pet care brands showcase their innovations that’ll move the industry forward. Day Two is the exciting Innovation Challenge, focused on the nitty-gritty collaborative problem-solving where entrepreneurs, investors, pet lovers and more join forces to solve the biggest issues for emerging pet care brands.
Here, Factory founder Richard Thompson gives a sneak peek of what’s to come on Day Two of the inaugural event.
What are some of the top challenges early stage pet care brands face today?
Richard Thompson: It's not just the one single biggest challenge, but getting distribution is always a hard problem. Getting the consumer insights to their products. A lot of people develop something that they think there's a need for and maybe there is or there isn't. Getting consumer insight is really, really important for these young entrepreneurs to know who their consumers are, get the distribution, then get the manufacturing to scale up. And then of course having the right capital and the right capital structure that you can get to finance these things is really critical.
Why is it important brands come together and collaborate to solve these issues?
RT: I think it's really important for them to come together because then they can learn from each other. A lot of them maybe have solved one of their issues, while the other one faces a new challenge. They can work together and talk to each other about how they've solved their challenges or what challenges they may have that's in front of them that they're going to try to resolve.
They [pet care brands] all need financing. They all need distribution. And I don't think anybody's afraid of saying, “Hey, I met this buyer over here at this company, and they were so great.” And, “Here's the phone number of [the person] you needed” or, “Here's a broker or agent that can help you get that appointment.” So I've seen a lot of really cool collaboration with these young entrepreneurs working together, and I just want to help facilitate it.
What can attendees expect to walk away with from the Innovation Challenge?
RT: They can walk away with the idea that they just met some really cool entrepreneurs that are really working hard to make a difference in the pet space. I think a lot of angel investors are looking for these types of entrepreneurs to back. I think it's a great intersection for entrepreneurs and angel investors to meet up.
The networking, I think, is the key that the entrepreneurs in the audience—be it mentors or angel investors or distributors, pet stores—that want to test and try these new products. I think it's really a great intersection for all these folks to meet up.
For more information and to register for the event, click here.