Ecommerce Leadership Talk with Blake Brossman of PetCareRx
Blake Brossman founded PetCareRx in 1998. Today it is one of America’s leading online pet pharmacies. Blake shares his story and gives special advice for Israeli entrepreneurs.
Just like most good business ideas, the inspiration for PetCareRx was seeded by a problem that needed a solution. One day Blake noticed that his dog Lou had a swollen bump on his nose. A biopsy revealed that Lou had cancer. Blake found a specialist who did chemotherapy on Lou, gave him medication, and his condition started to improve. But, therapy and medication were expensive. Lou’s pills alone cost $100 each, and he needed one per day. After speaking with a college friend who works in the pharmaceutical industry, Blake found out that the wholesale price for the pills was 100 pills for $7. After confronting the veterinarian, all he could say was “I’m a doctor, I had to count these pills.”
Blake realized that many people were paying astronomical amounts on pet medication at the hands of unscrupulous veterinarians. On top of the pain of witnessing their pets suffer, these people had to struggle with the financial cost of the treatments. Many people were simply not able to pay for these treatments. Blake knew that he had to make a difference for Lou and the other pets like him.
Blake advises entrepreneurs to start a business that they are passionate about. “Think about what you are truly passionate about. What do you want to change in the world? How do you want to transform lives? Find your raison d’être, and build a business around it.”
Blake formed a team of talented experts with diverse experiences. Coming from the world of business development and marketing, the medical aspects of establishing an online pet pharmacy were foreign to him. His response was to form an all-star team.
Dr. Lori Awadalla is a Staff Veterinarian who holds a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Auburn University. She has extensive clinical experience in surgery and emergency medicine. Ernest Ezue is a Pharmacy Director with twenty years of experience managing pharmacies in Africa and the US. Dr. Joseph J. Wakshlag is a Consulting Nutritionist. He is an Associate Professor of Clinical Nutrition at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, and a founding diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation.
Blake notes “Building a great team is more than finding highly qualified individuals. Our team includes people who are world-renowned experts. But expertise alone is not enough to meet our purpose. I sought out to build an expert team of loving pet parents who share my vision. Many of our team members are parents who understand the daily struggles and rewards of sharing a space with a pet. I built a team of people who want to fulfill a mission rather than simply showing up to a job.”
Blake believes in making resources available for pet parents. His team created several useful works including a Breed Guide, Medication Guide, and a Pet Organizer.
The Breed Guide goes beyond historical and technical details that are common in other guides. It provides practical advice about the needs of the pet. A family might be thinking of getting an adorable chihuahua, but not realizing that the breed is known for ‘excessive aggressiveness and may not be an ideal companion for children.’ Reading the guide, a parent might realize that perhaps something like a basset hound would be a better fit for their family. Understanding the temperament, exercise needs, grooming requirements, approximate cost per month helps would-be pet parents to understand the responsibility. This, in turn, drastically reduces the chances of abandonment.
The Medication Guide includes easy to read possible side effects for dogs and cats, as well as generic alternatives. The Pet Organizer includes a list of first aid essentials, a vet visit tracker, and a medication log.
Blake explains “We saw a need for information that is medically accurate and easy to read. The team does a great job at creating guides and resources that have helped pet parents make better choices. This all goes back to our mission of making medicine affordable for pet parents. Knowing the possible side effects for medicine or having a pet’s medical history organized is very important, and in some cases, it can save lives.”
Regarding the business value of making the guides and resources, Blake explains “When people see how helpful our resources are, they share them with their family and friends. We are able to help more people, and more people learn about our company. It’s a win-win for everyone.”
Blake encourages entrepreneurs to think beyond classic Start-Up Nation sectors. While many in Israel focus on security technologies, software, and biotech, there are many pathways to success. Blake explains “When you find what you want to do, go for it. Don’t be discouraged if it’s out of the sectors that most people in Israel are doing. Think about what you care about, and figure out how to make it happen.”
Regarding innovation, Blake notes “Innovation can come from where you least expect it. Who would have thought that I would innovate pet medications? Being outside a sector, or being abroad can be an advantage because it gives you a different perspective.”