A Q&A With Renaldo Webb (and Cooper) of PetPlate
We’re honoring Black History Month by highlighting Black excellence in the veterinary community. Meet Renaldo Webb, founder of PetPlate, a fresh food delivery service for pets — and the only Black-owned pet food company in America. Here, Renaldo talks about why he started PetPlate, the importance of diversity, and how he spends time with his bernedoodle Cooper.
Why did you create PetPlate?
Eight years ago, after finding nothing on the market that worked for my dog’s IBS, I realized that the marketing and packaging for traditional dog food was misleading, and in large part contributing to recurring health issues for my dog. I decided to start making home-cooked meals for him with fresh, whole ingredients, I noticed his health instantly improved. I realized that, similarly to humans, eating 100% human-grade, fresh-cooked meals would do wonders for a dog’s health and increase longevity, and thus PetPlate was born. I figured if my dog’s IBS could be corrected with his diet, millions of others could experience the same when they eat PetPlate as well.
What’s been the most successful moment or milestone for you with PetPlate?
Successfully closing our Series B funding round in December of 2021! This set the stage for most of the growth we’ve achieved until now. We opened our own office space, strategically built a team of about 50 employees from marketing to ops, customer experience, tech and more. We’re able to work with our own equipment in our production facilities, and use fulfillment centers across the country where we’ve been able to deliver over 20 million meals and counting. To see the growth and accomplishments we’ve made since 2016 has been amazing!
What’s your advice for others looking to start their own business?
I always think of the famous Seneca quote, “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity,” so don’t wait and don’t make excuses to start! When you think of your business idea, it’s easy to imagine how difficult it will be and how much you don’t know, but I encourage people to push past that. When I first started PetPlate, I was cooking in my kitchen and delivering meals across Brooklyn on my bike. There was so much uncertainty, but I’m so grateful I took the risk and I am proud to see where the company is today.
What’s your favorite thing to do with your pet?
I love going on long walks and runs with my bernedoodle Cooper! We play fetch on our runs through Prospect Park and it allows me to pick up my cold brew! I’m into fitness and monitoring my own health, so working out is so much easier when I have a loyal companion by my side who can run and play all day.
What’s your favorite thing about your pet?
Even on days I don't feel like going out, Cooper is there waiting to snuggle on the couch with me while I catch up on some missed TV shows. The extra time to walk and think has been great for my mental health. It's a consistent reason to step away from the computer or whatever is going on, hang out with my dog and take some deep breaths. Starting a business can be all consuming, I give Cooper some credit for keeping me sane.
Lastly, as it’s Black History Month — why is diversity in the pet space so important? How does it make you feel that PetPlate is the only Black-owned dog food company in the US?
The pet industry is currently worth $123.6 billion, and is primed to grow each year. With GenZ and Millennial generations spending more on their pets than ever before, it ’s important for consumers to feel a sense of connection with the brands they buy from. There aren’t a lot of diverse founders with transparent and authentic messaging out there that they can relate to. As generational attitudes shift with dog ownership - fun accessories, doggy day cares, dog restaurants and more‚ it’s time brands reflect their potential customer base, not just what traditional pet ownership looks like.
A Note on Diversity in the Veterinary Community
While 15% of the population identifies as Black or African-American, this community represents just 1% of vets and vet techs in America. And this disparity is seen across all BIPOC communities. There are several diversity non-profits in the veterinary community, and a few to highlight are: