Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in pet care but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Inna Shekhtman, CEO of Red Dog Deli Raw Food Company Inc., located in Port Coquitlam, BC, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Red Dog Deli Raw Food Company is a manufacturer of high-quality, safe raw food products for dogs and cats. Our purpose and mission is to help pets live longer and healthier lives. We know from feeding ourselves and our families that a “diet” is more than just a collection of nutrients found on a nutritional panel. According to the Brazilian Food Guide and the recently revised Canada Food Guide, a healthy “diet” is a wholistic term that refers to the quality of ingredients, how these ingredients are combined, prepared, processed, and even how they are eaten. These principles are based on years of research into human health and nutrition, and the same principles should apply to feeding all animals, including our pets.
The current conventional model for feeding our animal companions is to feed them a highly processed diet and feed them the same food for most of their life. Furthermore, in Canada, there are no quality safety regulations for the pet industry to ensure that the food is safe, meets clear quality standards, and provides accurate information regarding ingredients, nutrients, etc.
As a company, we pride ourselves on the fact that:
- We are the premier supplier of fresh, frozen raw pet food in Canada.
- We live by the same rigorous food safety principles and guidelines as human food manufacturers.
- Our recipes are developed by a team of experts, using the best available food science research to ensure your pet lives a longer and healthier life.
Our goal is to help pet parents make the best choices for their individual pets by providing them with great products, accurate information, and expert advice.
Tell us about yourself
I have always had a passion for learning and problem-solving. I loved figuring out creative, outside solutions and finding different ways to do things. That’s what drew me to computer programming when I was in high school - it was the ultimate of problems solving and developing algorithms to find efficient solutions to hard problems. I graduated with a BSc with Honors in Computing Science and thought I would be happy working with softwares. But about five years into my programming career, I found a new problem that was even bigger and more challenging - the pet industry.
I saw the difference a healthy, unprocessed diet made for my dog, Adhara, and I couldn’t believe that what I was doing was considered a fridge and challenged by the mainstream pet industry. I felt the pain of pet parents that were caught between this big industry that was so entrenched in old thinking and their true desire to do the best for their pets, and I wanted to help. This has been what fuels me every day and motivates me to keep going. I get to learn new things every day about nutrition, health, business, and leadership and build an amazing team around me that shares my passion.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
As someone who focuses on achieving goals, I find it hard to recognize and celebrate accomplishments because, by the time I am done, my brain is already on to the next set of goals. The biggest accomplishment for me is building a team at the company that is confident and comfortable in challenging each other and building off each other’s strengths.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
When you start a business, you often have to wear many hats, doing things that you are good at but also things that just need doing. As your company grows, the hardest thing as a business owner is to build a team for various areas of your business that is more skilled than you in those areas and then trusting them to do their job. Learning to be a leader who empowers that team to carry your dream way beyond where you could take it yourself is hard.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Be clear on why you are doing it. That purpose and vision is what will get you through the hard days (and there will be many hard days).
- Be clear about what your business is and what it isn’t. Decide on the core purpose of your business and focus on doing that well. It is very tempting to try and be everything for everyone, especially when you are struggling, but getting distracted or trying to do too much will cost even more.
- Be kind to yourself and your team. The best tool I ever found to help our team work together is Brene Brown’s Anatomy of Trust. I highly recommend this and her other leadership tools to anyone new to being a business leader.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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