By Margaret Jackson | Feb 14, 2022
Meatless dog treats
Helping Burger King figure out how to compete with fast casual restaurants like Panera and Chipotle that were redefining quality fast food opened Kelleman's eyes to the challenges attached to traditional agriculture -- and led him to become a vegan.
And when he got Rumpelstiltskin, a Rottweiler/pit bull/Shar Pei mix, he did some more research into pet foods that made him wonder whether there was a better way to give pets the nutrition they need without harming the environment.
That was around the time sustainable food companies like Perfect Day Foods and Memphis Meats (now Upside Foods) started to emerge, prompting Kelleman to wonder why there weren't pet foods made with alternative meats.
"I thought it could be an easier nut to crack if I could put together the right approach," Kelleman says. "For dogs and cats, you don't have to recreate the meat-eating experience. You need nutritional equivalency and bioavailability."
So Bond left the advertising world to start Bond Pet Foods with a mission to create more sustainable, responsible and humane food by reimagining meat -- the mainstay of pets' diets that is essential for repairing and making new cells in their bodies.
The company is developing pet food products made from animal-free ingredients, including plant and cultured ingredients and a nutritional yeast grown and produced specifically for pet health. The first cultured meat protein Bond is making is chicken because it's the most-consumed meat in the world for people and pets.
For now, the company is selling its dog treats directly on its website, but it expects them to be available on Amazon within the next month. It's also in the process of developing dog food that it will sell in addition to the treats.
Bond is using biotechnology to create food that's nutritionally comparable to conventional meat. It uses the same processes that are employed in craft brewing to produce high-quality, cultured fungal and animal proteins through fermentation, harvests them to meet the nutritional requirements of companion animals and uses the ingredients as the foundation of its complete recipes.
While Kelleman's background is not in biotechnology, food technology, or pet nutrition, he has built a team with that expertise. Bond's chief technology officer is Tony Day, Ph.D, who holds more than 40 patents and has 30 years of R&D and business development experience.
Mike Arbige, Ph.D., serves on the company's Scientific Advisory Board. Most recently, Arbige was vice president of R&D for DuPont's biosciences group.
Then there's a little bit of star power: In early February 2022, pop musician and animal advocate Sia joined the Bond Pet Foods team as an investor and advisor.
Challenges: The development work Bond will do in the laboratory over the next 12 to 18 months to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of its products to the Food and Drug Administration is a process that includes a lot of trial and error.
Scaling up its manufacturing operation from small-batch to large-scale production will take a lot of work. "These are challenges that will be in play over the next two years," Kelleman says.
Opportunities: Bond is looking for more opportunities for partnerships like the one formed at the end of last year with Hill's Pet Nutrition. "We're so excited about the Hill's partnership," Kelleman says. "In order for us to have the impact that we're looking for, we're open to other collaborations with companies that we feel like could take this more mainstream."
Needs: Bond wants to share the road map for its business with potential investors to secure more capital to help it grow. The company is nearing the end of a Series A funding round that will raise up to $15 million in funding. Its investors include some of the most prominent funds in the alternative protein and consumer-packaged goods space, including Lever VC, KBW Ventures, Agronomics, Plug and Play Ventures, and the Stage 1 Fund.