After a very successful 25 year professional corporate career in science & engineering, Karen Scoggins founded My Perfect Pet, a company that puts your pet’s health above profit margins.
What was the inspiration behind starting My Perfect Pet?
My Perfect Pet did not start with a business plan and an entrepreneurial drive to start my own business. In fact, I was nearing retirement from a 25-year career in science, engineering, research & development, and looking forward to devoting more time to my volunteer work in pet provided therapy, ministries, and community service work. I have always been an avid animal lover. Losing my lab, Hunter, to contaminated pet food was devastating, and my own wake up call to what was happening in the pet food industry. Hunter was among the first of tens of thousands of pets that were sickened and died from pet food that was knowingly poisoned with toxic ingredients. Within weeks of his passing, headlines were filled with pet food recalls, and knowing that it was intentional and that it could have been avoided made me angry enough to not only start making my own dog food, but to become an activist in the industry to demand change. I was driven to educate pet owners on what was really going into their food and on how to make healthier food choices for their pets. While my mission focused on education, demand from pet owners to supply them with the same fresh, home cooked food I was making for my own pets was exploding. In May 2009 I decided to launch My Perfect Pet. People SEE the difference. With most products, people buy them hoping that it is the best product, or at least that it is okay. With My Perfect Pet, fresh lightly cooked food pet owners see an immediate difference in their dogs energy, appearance, skin/coat, eyes, digestive tract, and yes even their poop (the ultimate test). Pet owners and breeders affectionately call us “My Perfect Poop” – more digestible food is less offensive smelling and there is less overall to clean up.
The Women Who Start Their Own Business: Karen Scoggins
I made a commitment early on that no ingredients would be used in our products that we weren’t willing to eat ourselves. The standard was simple, if it’s good enough for us it’s good enough for them. All My Perfect Pet food is prepared in accordance with FDA food safety standards using a combination of fresh, whole food 100% human grade ingredients: fresh boneless, skinless meat that is lightly baked for safety while preserving nutrients, and fresh fruits and vegetables (non-GMO and pesticide free), 100% complete and balanced. All the food is then frozen as freezing eliminates the need to add preservatives or other unnatural additives. We use no meals, ground bones or frames, preservatives, corn, wheat, soy, beet pulp, sugars synthetic vitamins or gluten.
As a testimony to the level of quality in our food, it is served in restaurants with pet friendly patios. Because we use the same restaurant grade ingredients, delivered by the same restaurant suppliers, and prepare it in accordance with health department standards for human food safety, our food can be stored and served by restaurant staff. We partner the restaurant with a pet friendly patio with a local pet store who supplies the Dine With Your Dog Kit – food bars, disposable bowls, and menu cards. Picky dogs LOVE our food. After pet owners watch their dog enjoy the food, their first question is “where can I buy this?” The restaurant gets new Dine With Your Dog guests, and the pet store gets new customers.
We dedicate every batch to Hunter and the thousands of pets and families affected over the years by poor quality food we had trusted to be healthy and safe.
How has being a business owner changed your life?
It has changed every aspect of my life – or at least the time I have available to dedicate to non-pet food activities. After 25 years with Hewlett-Packard in a variety of positions, including R&D program management, I “retired” to start My Perfect Pet, which I am calling my second career. I have discovered there is no “retirement” in owning your own business. A strong corporate background has proven invaluable in starting and running my own business, but I have had to become an expert in every field – marketing, sales, manufacturing, quality control, purchasing, customer service, accounting, and especially finance – have at times seemed overwhelming and far beyond what I anticipated at the start. The expression “jack of all trades, master of none” does not apply to the business owner – the successful business owner must be able to master them all in order to succeed.
What are the best and worst things about your job and the lifestyle of owning your own business?
Best: I am married to the man of my dreams, I have a business that is a perfect blend of education, skills, and passion, my dogs are my kids and every day at My Perfect Pet is a take your dog to work day. I have a great family, strong personal faith, and a business that is booming. I have pet owners who trust me with their kids’ lives, and I do believe that My Perfect Pet has made a difference in the pet industry, educating pet owners on the relationship between diet and health, and the importance of doing your homework when it comes to choosing the best for your pet kids. I have seen the difference our food has made in dogs lives and the lives of their families. I have many successes, and I believe My Perfect Pet is one of my greatest.
Worst: “Work/Life balance” is an elusive goal. “Vacations” are spent attending pet expos and trade shows, “date nights” almost always have an agenda. We are fortunate that, for us, we can take our “kids” almost everywhere we go. So when we “dine with our dogs” or attend “yappy hours” or other fun pet events, we are truly having fun as a family. But at the same time, I struggle with finding the right balance of personal time, exercise, and family time that is not always tied to My Perfect Pet.
I do believe I can have it all, so I do not feel compelled to choose between, but rather work on getting the business to run well without my having to personally involved in every small detail – Karen Scoggins
What is you favorite thing to do with your dog/s?
That is a long list! Running on the beach and playing in the surf would have to be among the top favorites! I am fortunate in that every day is a “take your dog to work day” at My Perfect Pet, so they are happy to go to work with me as my CTO’s (Chief Tasting Officers). When we dine out we always to go to a restaurant with a pet friendly patio where they can enjoy one of their food blends at the same time I enjoy my meal. They each have a bed in my office, even their own couch, and we try to take several play dates throughout the day to walk the trails around the business complex, or occasionally longer hikes into the hills. My dogs are also therapy dogs, Boomer is certified with Love On Leash, member of the National Association for Pet Provided Therapy, and we make regular visits to nursing homes, health centers, etc. and visit seniors some of whom have few if any visitors other than Boomer. They have a way of working magic with the folks they visit, I have seen seniors who are unresponsive to care workers light up when their hand is placed on the dog’s head. This week we are off to our beach house in San Felipe where they will ride quads with us, run the beach, swim and chase flying fish, and have at least as much vacation fun as we do. Our dogs are our kids, there are few things we do that we don’t include them. They are very well behaved, and that gives us the flexibility to take them with us just about everywhere.
Photo credit: Her site