Mathew Cockroft from Pure Pet Foods joins us this week to share his insights into successfully managing an online pet store, which has seen their award-winning products launched in Pets At Home. Along with business partner Daniel Eha, Mathew featured on Dragon’s Den, where their pitch was considered by Duncan Bannatyne to be “one of the best pitches in over 10 years of the show”.
What’s your company story in a nutshell?
Dan and I grew up next door to each other on a small farm in Yorkshire. Our families produced all our own fresh fruit and vegetables together, and we have both always taken a keen interest in nutrition. Having dogs ourselves, we could never understand why the food would say it contained chicken and carrot, but inside it looked like small biscuits that had clearly been heavily processed.
When we looked at alternatives we found that the unavailability of low processed and natural options had led to a huge increase in feeding a raw or home prepared diet. Owners were clearly becoming more aware of the production process and low quality ingredients used in making commercial pet foods.
Although home cooking or raw feeding is a great idea in principle, the reality is it can cause a lot of inconvenience. It leaves owners with the time consuming task of preparing their own meals and the problem of forgetting to defrost meat. There is health risks associated with feeding and storing raw meat alongside your own food, and it can also be very costly.
We came across using the method of dehydration, which involves gently blowing warm air across ingredients over several hours to remove the moisture and preserve them. This seemed like the perfect solution as it allowed us to eliminate the harsh temperatures and cooking procedures that are often used in producing commercial foods, but gave owners the benefits of a raw or home cooked diet.
All owners have to do is simply add water to the food and serve.
How do you plan your day?
I usually write a to-do list of what I want to achieve for the following day at the end of each working day. I also have an overview of what I want to achieve in that week and I make sure my daily tasks relate to this. I also use Microsoft Outlook for the everyday tasks such as scheduling meetings.
Describe your workspace
Relatively tidy but definitely not as tidy as Dan’s. I tend to accumulate bits of paper with different notes on them!
How do you hold a productive meeting?
I always go into a meeting with a notepad as I prefer to take notes instead of using a phone. I always try to make sure meetings are only conducted if there is a clear agenda as I prefer to discuss most issues in a less formal environment as opposed to scheduling a meeting.
Tea or coffee?
Which stationery item could you not live without?
What is the best thing that your business success has allowed you to do or have?
I think freedom is the biggest thing the business has brought me. The freedom to be able to make your own decisions on a day-to-day basis and to grow something you are genuinely passionate about is one of the best feelings.
Which office/workplace habit can you not stand?
Pessimism in general is something I don’t like in the office environment.
What has been your proudest career moment so far?
Launching our brand in Pets At Home was a huge achievement for us and appearing on Dragons Den is something that I will never forget!
What advice would you give to people starting their own business?
Make sure you do something you are truly passionate about as, if you love it, it won’t feel like work.
How do you switch off?
I enjoy going to the gym and I have recently taken up yoga which I find is a great way to relax.
What are you most looking forward to, professionally, in the future?
Watching Pure grow both here in the UK and overseas. We really think the sky is the limit for the brand.
What’s your secret to success?
Set goals and take action.