Founder Stories: Meg Meyer and Matt Meyer On Building The Bear & The Rat
In today’s Founder Story, we feature Meg Meyer and Matt Meyer, Co-Founders of The Bear & The Rat!
Read on for lessons they have learned from launching and marketing their business.
1. Please introduce your business and share your role.
The Bear & The Rat was founded in 2010 by Matt and Meg Meyer, a husband and wife team along with their two taste testers: a Lhasa Apso who growled like a “Bear” and his brother-from-another-mother, a “Rat” Terrier.
Unlike ice cream for humans, our bacon & peanut butter frozen yogurt dog treats are formulated specifically for your pup. Each cup contains one daily serving of organic prebiotics. The prebiotics grow your pup’s native bacteria – their own probiotics – for healthy stools, less gas, while the digestive enzymes help them absorb their food to the fullest. Our frozen yogurt treats are not just fun, they are a complete digestive aid.
2. What’s your backstory, what kind of challenges did you face, and how did you come up with your business idea?
Matt came up with the idea when he was 8 years old! He’d go to the ice cream shop every week with his family. His miniature poodle Babette would also go. This was the 80s so that was kind of crazy because not everyone believed in the concept that a dog is part of the family (like they do now).
Every week, Babette would get a small vanilla cone (it was so funny to see her eat the ice cream) but every week, she would not tolerate it. Over the years, Matt remembered those fun times at the scoop shop and wondered why there wasn’t a healthy treat specifically for dogs. He’d ask friends in high school and college what they thought about the idea. They always said it was stupid.
It wasn’t until Meg and Matt were on their honeymoon and Meg said that she wanted to start a business, that Matt told her about the idea. Six months later, they decided to put it in motion!
It’s very difficult to produce ice cream and that’s what we’re doing with our frozen yogurt. Even though it’s for dogs, we’re making ice cream, and that nearly put us out of business. It was very challenging to get an ice cream manufacturer to help us make the product.
It was always human grade but many didn’t want to take their time to help a human grade dog ice cream business scale. But we found the right partners in 2017 who put in our own line in their ice cream facility and we’ve been growing with them ever since.
3. How did you prepare for, and go about your launch?
We’ve been at this for 13 years so we’ve had many stages of launch. Shark Tank was probably the best thing we did for our business as it has attracted a strong base of customers who want to see us succeed.
Since launching, what types of marketing campaigns and designs have worked best to attract and retain customers? We strive to be our authentic selves on social media and on the sales floor and that attracts both retailers and customers to us.
What have been the most influential brands for your business? Whose branding and marketing do you aspire to and why? We don’t aspire to be anything but ourselves and hope that the love for our pets and others’ pets shows.
4. What are your favorite marketing platforms/tools?
5. Who or what inspires and motivates you?
Any story with an underdog both inspires and motivates us.
6. What are some lessons you’ve learned along the way that you would share with entrepreneurs hoping to launch or who have just launched?
Negotiate everything. Negotiate with your suppliers, your co-packers, your retailers, your distributors. Every cent counts to build and maintain a good margin. Protect margin at all costs. If a new opportunity is all take and no give, do some number crunching to make the final decision. If it doesn’t look good on paper in the beginning, it won’t get better.
7. What do you believe are the qualities of a good entrepreneur? And what makes a team successful?
Grit and tenacity are super important. Our team is small. But it’s mighty. We all trust each other and stay out of each other’s way unless we need help and then we all come together and figure out solutions as a team.