Q&A: Leading the way in providing an all-natural pet supplements

This week we meet Asha Dillon, the entrepreneur behind the pet wellness supplement brand Leadr Pet. Unlike other pet supplement products, Leadr’s products from purely natural ingredients that are guaranteed to ensure the health and wellness of cats and dogs alike. Drawing from her experience in the health industry, Asha aims to provide a clean and sustainable alternative for the health of the beloved pets.

ISB: What inspired you to come up with the business idea that became Leadr Pet?

AD: As a nutritionist and herbalist, I was often asked about supplement recommendations and how to treat various conditions naturally. It wasn’t until my 90-year-old grandma called me as her cat had kidney issues that I even considered pet supplements. I dove into the research and looked at what supplements were available for animals. I realised that there were many supplement brands, however, the formulations weren’t very advanced and they did not contain clinically trialled, standardised extracts. I simply couldn’t find products that I could recommend to others and use on my own dog, Romeo, who has very bad separation anxiety and poor gut health. So, I decided to quit my job and build that brand with the quality of products I was looking for.

ISB: How did your experience in vitamin product development help you in getting the brand off the ground?

AD: This experience was absolutely essential and I would have not been able to build this brand without it. Not only did I have the knowledge and education to be able to formulate and develop products, but I also had industry connections with raw material suppliers and manufacturers. It is really difficult to develop and bring a range of products that are human-grade, have a good shelf-life, and are all-natural out to market. This was definitely my biggest product development career challenge to date.

ISB: On the other hand, what was the biggest challenge you faced in the start-up phase and how did you overcome it?

AD: It was incredibly difficult to manufacture the product range. I was consistently told that they could not be made, as these types of formulations had never been made before. In the human supplement industry it would take me three to five months to bring a product from idea out to market. It was also really difficult to order the raw materials as they were very popular in human supplements and there were issues world-wide with supply and demand. Another challenge was creating the supplements into a soft-chew, most of the pet supplements on the market are in the form of powders and capsules. It took a long time, and many versions of the supplements to be tested (and taste-tested by dogs and cats) for us to be happy with the final product and get ready for launch.

ISB: How important is it for you to have all-natural products not only in terms of ingredients but also in the packaging?

AD: This was a non-negotiable for us. Our mission is to make pets as healthy as humanly possible, naturally. Many vets prescribe pharmaceutical anti-anxiety medication, which can work effectively at the beginning, however, they deplete the body of vitamins and minerals with long-term use. It was also really hard to develop the range to be wheat, soy, gluten-free and free of preservatives, as you need preservatives to get a good shelf life. We’re really happy with the end result and really proud that our products are all natural, but also effective.

ISB: How do you envision Leadr Pet’s growth in the next couple of years?

AD: In the next couple of years we will continue to focus on growth and getting Leadr supplements in as many mouths of Australia’s cats and dogs. We have big plans to expand internationally also as we get a lot of interest from international markets who love Australian-made health supplements. We’d love to expand into the US and Europe in the next 12-24 months. The pet supplement industry is growing at 11 per cent per annum and will be valued at over $440 million by 2027, we hope to be the market leader and really believe that we’ll continue to grow and take a large segment of the market.

ISB: What advice would you give to would-be entrepreneurs with a potential business idea in mind?

AD: My advice would be to really think about how to do things differently, people are smarter than you think, and it isn’t wise to create a brand selling the same products as other brands as consumers know, and there isn’t longevity in this. I would focus on really creating something innovative and really re-imagine the category that you’re in. Think about how it should be done today, instead of accepting how it has always been done. You need to be really pushy and commit to your non-negotiables, you will get there in the end.