TIO Chicago: TVA's Side By Side National Media Launch
Kick-started by the Telluride Foundation‘s Telluride Venture Accelerator Program in 2016, Side by Side Pet Nutrition officially went national on Wednesday, April 11, 2018. The media launch took place at the James Hotel in Chicago. Side by Side’s new line of frozen and freeze-dried food, treats, toppers and supplements is ready to ship to a location nearest you. Go to the website here, fill out Side by Side’s unique personal assessment, then place your order and start down the path of customized pet nutrition for the optimal health and wellness of your dog.
What happens in Telluride does not stay in Telluride…
So now the world is going to the dogs.
In a very good way.
The guest list for the toney event at the James Hotel’s Jimmy on Wednesday, April 11, included Winston, Gizmo, Keko, Truman, Riply and Wrigley – and the dogs’ owners, a group of Chicago’s top influencers and bloggers.
Everyone was gathered at an estrogen-laced event to celebrate the national media launch of Side by Side, a company founded two years ago in Telluride, Colorado, under the auspices of the Telluride Foundation’s Telluride Venture Accelerator Program – which, to date, has graduated 26 start-ups since its inception in 2013.
In attendance was Side by Side company founder Marney Prince, whose story is the story of a burgeoning business poised for success. It is also an inspiring variation on theme of the American Dream.
In the beginning there was Marney Prince:
For Marney Prince, loving animals has always been as natural and involuntary as breathing, an inborn affinity that may have preceded memory: the family cats slept in her crib when she was an infant.
Prince began bringing stray animals home not long after she could walk. By the time she was six, she was helping a rescue operation find families for stranded cats and dogs.
It is no big surprise, then, that following a wink at the arts, Prince went to school at age 27 to become a vet tech. After graduation, she found work in the field and loved the mix: medicine, emergencies, engaging with animals daily.
But one thing did not sit right.
“I felt like there was this big disconnect between pet medicine and pet food. The food was just terrible. I tried to find the best quality I could, but it was mostly kibble, dried, processed, drained of real nutritional value. There was wet food, but that was also highly processed. And not appropriate for dogs.”
So Prince left the industry and returned to school, this time to become an holistic animal food chef. And the more she learned about pet health, the integration of Western and Eastern medicine and the role of nutrition, the more she became convinced there was a better way to feed our pets.
Prince’s clear conviction inspired her to start preparing her own food, experimenting in her home kitchen and trying out recipes on her own pets and those of her friends.
She soon took on clients, working to understand their animals in an holistic sense, then creating individualize meals based on a big-picture array of needs. The results were remarkable: pets were regaining energy, moving better, improving from chronic conditions.
Marney Prince had clearly hit on something very special.
Today what began as a one-woman operation is now a streamlined manufacturing business in the growing pet health and wellness space – but one thing hasn’t changed: the focus on food-as-preventative-medicine using products in combination to provide a personalized nutrition plan.
The ethos is simple, Prince explains:
“Side by Side is based around cherishing our pets, helping them stay healthy and live long vibrant lives. Our dogs are, after all, our babies. Let’s feed them right.”
And ever since Marney’s serendipitous meeting with Carol Bramson, the dog-lover and venture capitalist who would become a partner in and CEO of the company, the future of Side by Side has been looking bright: manufacturing is streamlined; products and packaging are improved; and customers are singing in harmony about the happy results of the Side by Side change in diet in their pets.
But that one thing still has not changed. In fact, the Big Idea has been shored up.
We repeat: Side by Side remains laser-focused on whole food, holistic recipes, basic meals and treats, that combine the best of modern Western nutrition practices with ancient, traditional Eastern food therapies, using the best protein sources, high quality herbs, vegetables, fruits, seeds, and unadulterated grains to create different formulations all carefully prepared to preserve whole food nutrition.
Prince’s story goes to show that following your bliss can strike a nerve.
“Longevity and health in animals are factors of genetics and nutritional balance,” explains Lisa Molloy Bane, DVM and Side by Side’s consulting veterinarian, who also attended the company’s event in Chicago. “There is so much information out there about supplements and diets, and Marney has done an incredible job in researching and implementing nutritional science. Everyone’s pet will benefit from her recommendations. She is constantly striving to fine-tune diet recommendations and now, through Side by Side, she continues to strive to make nutrition part of an animal’s basic preventative health plan and therapeutic strategy. There is truth to the old adage ‘We are what we eat.’ Nutrition is a great piece of the therapeutic puzzle. As a veterinarian, I use diet and nutrition as a therapeutic tool. You should too.”
CEO Carol Bramson: Acumen and oversight:
Side by side with Marney Prince at the media launch of their company was CEO and visionary Carol Bramson.
Call it kismet.
In the summer of 2016, private equity investor Carol Bramson joined a friend on a visit to Telluride for the very first time. They flew in and were greeted by a picturesque hamlet tucked into soaring mountains. And he said to her: “We can’t forget to get the dog food.”
“I was like … OK,” Bramson said. But she probed: What’s with this dog food? Her friend told her this wasn’t just any dog food. It was hand-made and personalized with the best ingredients made by a woman who knows about pet health. He had personally watched the product transform his own dogs.
Bramson, who has spent her career building businesses in the healthy living sector, sensed something special. She asked her friend to set up a meeting with this remarkable young woman.
Soon she was sitting down with Marney Prince, who shared her pitch deck – and what to Bramson looked like the makings of a total winner.
“I looked at the document and told myself we can scale this,” Bramson said.
Bramson knew from industry insight that the demand for quality ingredients in food is on an upward trajectory – and significantly moving beyond the realm of human food. People want to create long and healthy lives for their pets too.
The timing for quality dog food was right; the potential huge; Prince’s products, spot-on.
Bramson threw her support behind the company, got to work on the product mix, the packaging and brand enhancements. She became partner and CEO six short months later.
Bramson brings high-level business acumen and deep experience to Side by Side.
After putting herself through undergrad and grad school, the Chicago native launched into the business world, eventually helping start a private equity group and a wellness venture capital firm. As a longtime investment management expert, she has years of experience advising businesses large and small.
And Bramson believes in investing with purpose and has always been guided by a desire to support the companies that impact people’s lives in a positive way. That, coupled with a strong personal interest in health – she works out every day and eats a clean diet – drew her early on to the healthy living sector.
One more clincher primed Bramson for her role in Side by Side.
The year before she met Prince, she had gotten her own dog, Wrigley, who opened her eyes to all the ways a pet can enrich a person’s life and why people go to such great lengths to ensure their dog’s health.
“With our pet, we want all its days to be as happy as they can be. We want to nourish them in every way possible,” Bramson adds.
As more pet owners realize heath and food are inextricably linked, she notes, she is excited to play a role in helping them change the diet of their charges.
“I cannot wait to get out there and tell the world all about Side by Side. I’m so excited about what we’re doing, about disrupting the pet food sector.”
Bramson is not the only one excited. Long-time dog trainer Ted Hoff is excited too.
And Hoff was also in the room. He is on the Side by Side team and flew in from Crawford, Colorado to share his reasons for his passion for the company.
Until Prince came back into Hoff’s life – he had trained a problem “child” of hers years earlier – the Hoffs fed their own dogs – and all the dogs at Cottonwood – a generic kibble. Yes, families brought their loved ones special kibble – but all too much of that went sour, turned moldy. They brought raw food too. Initially Ted agreed to prep that food, but without a commercial kitchen on the property, the process was a time-consuming mess.
Hoff’s Cabella has been an athlete all his life, but he started to slow down at age 10. He stopped running or cross-country skiing with Hoff’s wife Vanessa his regular 10 miles a day. And his coat was becoming wiry and dry.
But about a year ago, the Hoffs switched Cabella’s diet to Side by Side. It was love – and life beginning again as he knew it– at first bite.
“Before Side by Side, starting at age 10, Cabella was running about 1/4 to 1/2 mile behind the group,” explained Vanessa Hoff. “Within about four months on his new diet, he was keeping my pace of 8 to 9 1/2 minute miles, down from 11-minute miles.”
Cabella has regained his athletic body and the stamina that goes with it.
Young Wilbur, the Hoffs’ other German shorthaired pointer, is a beautiful, highly bred hunting and pointing dog, who has been on Side by Side since age six months – or most of his young life.
“It usually takes awhile for a pup to find its stride. But within about a month on Side by Side, Wilbur was muscling up and looking like a stud. Like an Olympic athlete. And his coat was lustrous,” says Hoff, continuing:
“Side by Side is the very first product line I have ever endorsed after a lifetime working with and loving dogs. Over the years I have come to learn the importance of nutrition not just for an animal’s physical and physiological health, but also for its emotional well-being. And there is nothing out there to compare to Side by Side with its whole food, nutritionally balanced formulations. I am confident from what I see in my dogs the ingredients in Side by Side are of the highest possible quality. As soon as possible, I plan to convert the members of my VID club (Very Important Dog) to Side by Side. That is a group of about 40 families with one or two dogs each. And because our clients always ask about what diet to feed their furry family, I am certain the rest of our Cottonwood Ranch & Kennel family will become Side by Side families too.”
So Side by Side is not just some clever corporate handle.
Ok, it is that.
But its name is also a statement of fact: We stand Side by Side with our dogs. The company – Prince, Bramson, Bane and their team – stands side by side with us and our pets.
Side by Side represents a paradigm shift in the pet care nutrition space.
The company is focused on personalized care for your dog, which Side by Side sees as a member of the family.
In that shared world, a dog is not a bar code on the check-out line at a grocery store.
You and your dog are Side by Side’s whole, holistic story.
A story embraced by the crowd at Jimmy in Chicago – which hung around after dinner and talks for personal assessments of their own pets, everyone singing hosannas to the company’s mission.
That story is soon to be echoed across the country.
Next stop: Boston.
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