We are so excited to share with you the amazing news about our cohort company, HAPPYBOND. Anja Skodda, the CEO and founder is not just a beast entrepreneur but also a scientist that deployed her research on humans’ skin and collagen to heal her dog from his severe joint pain.
Here are 8 questions Anja answered about raising money during the coronavirus, changing her brand and strategy entirely and getting creative not just to survive these trying times, but to come out of this winning against all odds.
1. How would you describe this funding experience?
I learned so much throughout this funding round. The pandemic changed the trajectory of our round completely as it hit right when we had loads of leads and they all died at once. We took into consideration all the feedback from investors and advisors and finally brought our bigger vision to life! My team has done an incredible job to scale our business through those months; tripled revenue, launched new products, established strategic partnerships and built HAPPYBOND. This funding would have never happened without my BONDMAKERS!
2. What tips can you give founders raising money during a global pandemic?
Fundraising in a global pandemic is very different from raising money in normal times. You will need to pivot your approach from getting leads through networking events and introductions in person to a total digital approach. It is different to pitch your business on a zoom call even though you might have more people attending the pitch events, their attention span is not the same as when you connect with them in person. Important gestures and reactions get lost many times as a virtual pitch is a one woman show and you do not see everyone on the screen while presenting. Also investors are careful and more cautious to invest. We are lucky that our business was only affected by the brick and mortar retail and we had a chance to move our efforts into DTC (Direct to consumer advertising).
3. What are the lessons you have learned from this round?
To continue following your goals even if it seems impossible, there is always a way! We had a pretty clear vision at the start of 2020, but with the global lockdown most of that was shifted, on hold or canceled. It took a real evaluation of our goals and brought us back to our Mission, to help dogs! After figuring out a way to stay connected with our customers through digital content and virtual events, we were able to scale our business through the pandemic and finalize our bigger vision – HAPPYBOND. What I have learned the most from this experience is that challenges make us creative and that’s when you can build something REAL!
4. How will the money you raised serve HAPPYBOND’s purpose and development?
We will be able to launch HAPPYBOND; a whole health approach for your pet, Body, mind and play. At HAPPYBOND we are committed to extending the healthspan of your pets, we create, co-create and curate nutritional products that are proven to keep your pets healthy and happy. HAPPYBOND is a platform that provides health plans, extensive knowledge, highest quality products and bonding experiences like travel and Dogstrology for pets and their owners. We are also very excited about our new partnership with academy award winning actress, Halle Berry and our new dog food launch with Cesar Millan. These partnerships will increase our revenue growth and enable us to keep our 300% growth goals.
5. Who are the investors that helped you in this round?
We got an investment from the M1 Fund that partners with major food and beverages enterprises in Latin America as well as from other angel investors, but we are still looking to fill the round with more investors.
6. What quotes and mindset keep you positive in your entrepreneurial journey?
A quote from Astrid Lindgren: “Don’t let them get you down, be cheeky, be wild ,be wonderful!” In the entrepreneurial journey there are so many ups and downs and many people will challenge your ideas and vision. It was always important to me, to have a tribe of people around me that supported me and made me believe in my purpose throughout these challenging times. Sometimes you are just feeling down and that’s when Astrid Lindgren’s Pippi quote comes up to my mind. I always think in my head that I will show them and stand up again, with a better approach, cheeky and daring and be wild but stay kind and wonderful!
7. How are you going to incorporate your background in science into your business?
We are also conducting a study on how nutrition can prevent early stage cancer in canines together with OncoGuarDx. I am a scientist myself and it is important for me to remain a science-driven company. Therefore, we are all about “New Science” and that goes for all pain points of our dogs. Next to joint pain, cancer is another major health problem for dogs as well. With our unique human-grade dog food we are enabling pet parents to prevent early stage cancer and we want to have the scientific evidence for those claims.
8. What are HAPPYBOND’s future plans and partnerships?
We just launched the new website and new brand vision HAPPYBOND and are excited to nurture all our partnerships and new product launches. Our first one will be announced in Q4 is with Halle Berry and her Company rē•spin. Next year we have an exciting partnership with a Music Legend breaking into a new grooming concept. Moreover, we are building strategic partnerships with other companies in the pet space. Our new platform enables us to curate other products we believe in, build the experience aside from pet ownership, like our amazing collaboration with Untold Story with whom we are launching the first Pet travel to Paris and Dog skateboards with Hamboards that we created a tandem dog skateboard with. We are also excited to continue expanding into Asia and Europe next year and to the Latin American market with one of our Investors (M1 Fund).
Have an exclusive sneak preview to HAPPYBOND’s new website here: www.happybond.com using these credentials: Username: demo and Password: happy