If any startup has been bombarded by comparisons to Web 1.0 failures it is PetFlow, the delivery pet food service. Petflow is two years old and plans to turn a profit next year on its expected $33 million in revenue. Last year the 33-person company earned $13 million in revenue. Things seem to be working for the pet food delivery business this time around, so I will spare the kneejerk “But Pets.com was a joke!” commentary, except to note that shipping costs have significantly dropped since 1999 with the expansion of extensive ground delivery networks.
Petflow’s pet food ecommerce business delivers fancypants dog food to places where it’s harder to come by, or just less fun to transport.
Today the company jumps into a far trendier line of business than pet food delivery: subscription commerce. It’s monthly “stuff in a box” program called Spoiled Rotten, being run as a bit of an experiment to get more orders out the door and boost shipping volume. It could also be a response to Barkbox, another New York startup that recently launched with $1.7 million in funding from Lerer Ventures, RRE, Polaris Ventures, Bertelsmann and 500 Startups.
Petflow has raised $15 million from Lightspeed Ventures and Westwood Ventures. The company wants to be the Amazon.com of pet foods, providing better service and faster delivery than brick and mortar pet stores like Petco and Petsmart. These competitors do an online business but are not focused on the customer experience. Petflow is working closely with brands now to educate its customers on the value of higher end dog foods — the subscription business will help introduce customers to new brands and products.
Called “Spoiled Rotten,” the program costs $24.99 per month and includes a monthly box of mystery toys, treats, and samples of high end food. 1,000 subscribers have already signed on, the company said.
Petflow itself is a bit of a subscription business, thanks to its “auto-replenlish” function that allows customers to get automatic delivery custom-ordered to the speed their pets consume the food. The site ships more than one million pounds of food a month, the company said.