Gourmet pet food start-up aims to be the tail that wags the dog

Entrepreneurs and investors have found a potentially huge opportunity in the market for improving the lives of the nation’s pets

When James Davidson received the call about helping to start a dog-food business in 2013, he was a whisker away from signing up to work for an American health-food company. It was a deal that would involve moving his family to the United States.

However, a delay in securing investor approval for his appointment left a window of opportunity for Graham Bosher, the British entrepreneur behind LoveFilm and Graze, to get in touch with his latest wheeze.

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Tails.com was the brainchild of Joe Inglis, a vet and serial entrepreneur, who had been put in touch with Mr Bosher by a mutual friend. “Graham could see the scale of the opportunity but also the challenges in getting a business like Tails.com off the ground and knew some of the roles he needed to fill on the team,” Mr Davidson, 39, says.

With a seven-year career at Innocent under his belt, Mr Davidson fitted the bill. “We agreed to do it four days after that initial phone call,” he says. After securing £5 million from investors, an 11-strong start-up team was assembled, including software developers and product managers with experience of building fast-growth companies.

Mr Davidson was attracted by the scale of the opportunity — there are 8.5 million dogs in the UK and the dog-food market was worth £1.14 billion in 2014 — and by the prospect of improving the lives of the nation’s pets.

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