K9 Fit Club – One Year Update From a 2017 PCIP Winner

K9 Fit Club Founder Tricia Montgomery (center top) with part of the K9 Fit Club team.

K9 Fit Club is a lifestyle company dedicated to creating good health, fitness and wellness of dogs and their people. The startup was a Winner of the first Pet Care Innovation Prize competition, winning $10,000, an all-expenses paid Pet Care Business Boot Camp for founder Tricia Montgomery, and visibility with investors and industry leaders.

The following is a recap discussion with Tricia on what’s happened with K9 Fit Club since she traveled to St. Louis in November 2016 for the Pet Care Business Boot Camp.

What has happened with you and your company since the PCIP last year?
We have officially moved our headquarters to St. Louis and are currently working with Chris Danforth and Kennelwood on a proposed K9 Fit Club/Kennelwood shared space. Additionally, we were selected to participate in HealthFurther in Nashville, winning our division. We were awarded the Brookdale Living contract, with K9 Fit Club programs going into their 1,100 locations over the next three years. Through this award, many other communities have reached out, creating an entirely new revenue vertical for K9 Fit Club and added value for our licensees. We were also recognized at the InnovateHer Chicago competition for our innovation and creation of jobs and opportunities for women. We are also working with several nutritional and pharmaceutical companies, (human and canine) on sponsorship and programs.

How have your vision and company changed since last year?
When we came into the competition we were focused on licensing. After a discussion with several judges, we realized, although we had the capability and vision, we were leaving out the consumers. We have now refocused our energy and our attention to the end goal of B2C and K9 Fit 2 Go, or the “Peloton” model, anyone, anywhere, anytime can download a K9 Fit Club class. Focusing on content and utilizing our licensees as Ambassadors and content providers. Also, as we are health, fitness and wellness for humans and canines, we have found many advantages and opportunities in the human health space.

What are your current opportunities, challenges and successes?
Funding, Team, Focus and Know Your Lane. To be surrounded by a team and to have the support is an incredible thing. I would also say patience and positivity is key, and know that funding and plans take longer than you anticipate.  With the Brookdale contract, our opportunities for expansion are vast, so planning and successful implementation is key.

What would you tell the next class of PCIP winners? Those thinking about applying?
You are here for a reason, you have an idea, product or service and you are doing something about it. Stay focused, stay true to your vision and your dream. The wonderful Jim Dougherty, K9 Fit Club Advisor and Founder of PetSmart & PetSense, once said to me, “you are on a mountain, you are trying to do something that no else has done, don’t stop climbing”. You won’t know how to do everything you need to do right from the start. Learn from your mistakes and then keep on trying. Also, you will have people, the naysayers, maybe envious, who really don’t want to see you succeed. Don’t quit, stay true, which will make it much more satisfying when you do.

How has winning the PCIP helped you?
PCIP was incredible learning experience. It provided insights, guidance and contacts, we could have never dreamed possible. Our entrance to the St. Louis market has been incredible with great support and opportunities. It is truly an entrepreneurial city, and one we are proud to now call home.

Who would you like to give shoutouts to and why?
Thad Simons of The Yield Lab was one of judges for PCIP. He understood the bigger picture for K9 Fit Club from day one of the competition. He has been invaluable in providing guidance, wisdom and support. His introductions into the Missouri Foundation for Health, BioGenerator, St. Louis Economic Development Partnership, partners at The Yield Lab and Helix Fund, to name a few, have proved to be not only beneficial, but profitable as well. A huge thanks to Dr. Ernie Ward and Dr. David Levine for their hard work, intuition, support and belief in our journey. Not to mention, our incredible team of investors and advisors including Chris Bobowski, Alan Matthew, Tribal Ventures, Dudley Byler, Laveer Capital Group and Rob Topping of Topping Capital for their support and continued belief.

What are your goals going into next year?
K9 Fit Club/Kennelwood Concept Store – The Gateway Center to Health and begin our K9 Fit 2 Go in Q2 2018.

What’s the most interesting thing to you about being an entrepreneur in the pet care industry?
The journey.

Think you have an idea that the pet care industry needs, and that the Pet Care Innovation Prize can help you like it helped Tricia? Send us a note at Hello@PetCareInnovationPrize.com to be notified for upcoming opportunities to get recognition and support as a pet care entrepreneur.