Incubating a pet business

When we first started incubating businesses here at the Green Garage, we never thought we’d be delving into the pet business, and yet for the past few months we have been working with Adrienne Wisok on incubating her emerging animal-related enterprise. Adirenne, who works as a veterinary assistant, entered into the process thinking that she wanted to open a sustainable pet retail shop. Working through 4 weeks of collaborative design and a summer of seed design (defining the core of the business), a new business idea has emerged that better reflects her passion: a human/animal companion therapy business. She has moved from products to a service-based business. Here is Adrienne’s description:

I create the conditions in which animals and humans – each unique – can teach each other to be better companions. My practice is rooted in animal ethics, informed by the latest research, and based on the belief that wholeness and joy are possible in every relationship.

Today Adrienne gathered the collaborative design group together again for an update on the progress of her work. She reviewed the previous work the group had done and talked about the connections she had made over the summer. She began consulting with The Humane Society, gathering information she needed for her business plan. She learned that:

  • 60% of all pets are returned to the Humane Society after adoption.
  • 85% of those are returned due to one or more behavioral problems.
  • 32% of animals that come to the Humane Society are euthanized.
  • Encouragingly, 94% of human companions who received individualized training had a successful outcome with their animal.

Adrienne has also been in contact with people at Monash University in Australia, who work quite a bit in animal/human interactions, and they emphasized the need for more work in this area. Her research connected her to a grad student at Purdue who is researching personality matching of animals and humans.

In the near future, she’ll be doing pro-bono work on the Humane Society’s behavioral hotline, which will help build the beginning of her database. She’ll continue her work with Purdue, and has scheduled a visit to The Center for Humans and Nature in Chicago. She has one more summary meeting with the Green Garage collaboration group next week, and later will have one final debriefing meeting before launching the business.

Human animal companion therapy meeting

Adrienne, in green, and some of the collaboration design group at the Green Garage.

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