Courtsey of RX3
When Nate Raabe co-founded RX3 Growth Partners with NFL QB Aaron Rodgers and Roth Capital CEO Byron Roth, he didn’t visualize the company investing in dog food.
Launched in 2018, RX3 placed itself as a development equity company backed by professional athletes and celebs (that make up approximately half the financier base) in addition to expert financiers. Its very first couple of revealed positions—a glasses brand name, a sports equipment company, an at-home physical fitness endeavor—fit the mold of business frequently related to professional athletes.
But in 2020, in the middle of a pandemic that saw more than 23 million American families adopt a family pet, RX3 took part in a $34M Series B round for dog food maker Nom Nom. And the company’s prominent financiers consumed it up (so to speak).
“That’s exactly when we realized that there is a real interest in the category from our investor base, and that pet is a category that we’re going to be able to provide that value beyond capital,” Raabe said in an interview. “When we did make that announcement … we got a lot of interest from our investor base that they wanted to get behind it, they wanted to support it, they wanted to try the product.”
Within a year, RX3 included another position with dog food business Victor. As it starts to invest out of a soon-to-close 2nd fund, Raabe sees comparable financial investments around the corner.
“The pet category as a whole, even beyond food, whether it’s in the veterinary space, accessories, different types of animals—that’s definitely a category we really like and are going to continue to get behind,” Raabe said.
In 2021, Morgan Stanley equity expert Simeon Gutman wrote that “the U.S. pet industry has reached an inflection point.” Investors have actually taken notification, consisting of the professional athletes amongst them—much of whom have actually ended up being dedicated family pet moms and dads themselves.
Athletes—they’re similar to us!—brought home animals at a quick clip throughout the pandemic and invested more time with the animals they already had. Why not? They had downtime for when, with schedules that were unexpectedly without both athletic dedications and gatherings.
But unlike the majority of pet-lovers, gamers likewise had a platform, and much of their dogs have actually established followings of their own.
Two then-Blue Jackets protectors joined the pattern of pandemic adoptions (one goldendoodle, one French bulldog) and got instant attention. In April 2020, the Capitals began offering a double bobblehead of Tom Wilson and his dog, Halle, to benefit a regional animal rescue. Patriots wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster’s frenchie, Boujee, is now nearing 200,000 Instagram fans.
“NFL players love their pets to death,” Bills QB and RX3 financier Kyle Allen said through email. “They are huge stress and anxiety relievers.” As the owner of a doodle himself, he said investing in dog-related brand names made total sense.
Serena Williams might have been among the very first professional athletes to acknowledge the financial investment prospective connected to animals (her Yorkshire terrier is called Christopher “Chip” Rafael Nadal). Serena Ventures has actually been a financier in family pet health brand name Ollie given that prior to COVID triggered the canine boom.
“It went from basically nothing to something,” Nom Nom co-founder Nate Phillips said of celebs getting associated with family pet food normally. “It’s definitely taken off.”
Phillips included that causing noteworthy financiers showed more reasonable than attempting to adhere to influencer endorsers, in part since getting a celeb to alter their go-to dog food is harder than devoting to other item positionings.
Nom Nom’s development method worked. Last year, Mars Pet Care obtained the start-up, and RX3 saw an annualized return over 100%. That was among 5 exits RX3 has actually already attained as it likewise continues investing in businesses more normally lined up with professional athletes, such as Therabody, Manscaped, and Corepower Yoga.
Going forward, Raabe sees interest in the family pet classification growing, specifically if other sectors don’t heat back up.
“We’re seeing pet [spending] as more consumer essential and a little bit more recession resistant than a lot of other categories,” he said. “The macro environment has affected a lot of brands and sectors. It’s going to affect some more than others.”