Smile! A pet health care company comes out on top.

With a winning combination that sounds perfect, the entrepreneurs behind it must be destined for success. It certainly looks that way: Just one year after Andrée-Ann Adam and Jean-Philippe Côté launched their company, their pet products are available at over 250 locations in Quebec, with plans to expand to the rest of Canada, the United States and Europe.

Animora, based in Quebec City, produces products designed to improve the health of our furry friends. Their first product to market is a cranberry-based dental gel for dogs, with proven effectiveness in preventing plaque, tartare and bad breath while reducing gum inflammation.

Adam developed the idea for the cranberry dental gel while pursuing a master’s degree in microbiology. While working with the faculty of dental medicine, she examined how cranberry behaves as a natural weapon against periodontal diseases in cats and dogs.

Adam and Côté are both scientists with expertise in dental medicine, animal health, microbiology, biochemistry and pharmacy. Those credentials alone sound like a winning formula, but add their intense passion for animal welfare — Côté grew up on a dairy farm in Lac-St-Jean — and you have a company with a great story as well as a great product. Plus, Quebec is one of the biggest producers of cranberries in the world, so it’s a local story too — the product and packaging are all made in Quebec City.

And that’s the kind of winning combination that caught the attention of business leader and Dragon’s Den member Joe Mimran, the mentor involved in Staples Canada’s “This is How I Grow My Business” contest. Animora is one of three start-ups to win the contest, and with it products and access to marketing and promotional resources from Staples, as well as some serious one-on-one mentorship with Mimran.

“It's an incredible opportunity to have someone like Joe offer us guidance across all areas of our business. He is an authentic, generous and passionate person who has extensive experience and knowledge. And since we are just starting to grow, we need to make strategic decisions and who better to help guide us. Joe helped us recognize all the opportunities we have in front of us, and encouraged us to never lose sight of our vision.”

“People are not buying products anymore, people are buying stories,” says Mimran. And the two of them are very credible. They are both highly educated, both scientists, they’re a couple, they love animals, and he grew up on a farm. So it’s a genuine story. I told them: tell your story and put yourself front and centre.”

Mimran also suggested they expand their product range — right now they have just one SKU, which makes it difficult to get listed with retailers — and really own their unique differentiator: cranberries. His advice is to create new products in that same realm, and also improve their packaging to make it look more professional and market-friendly.

“I told them to develop something like a chew toy with a cranberry angle. Own the packaging and branding and make it red… so that you are the cranberry kings in the world of teeth and oral health.”

For now, Mimran’s advice has helped set them on a trajectory propelled by sound strategy and invaluable guidance.

“Right now, Joe’s advice will help us know what to prioritize when it comes to the business.”

Animora is one of three winning small businesses in Staples Canada’s “This is How I Grow My Business Contest” held in collaboration with style icon and champion of entrepreneurs Joe Mimran. As winners, Animora will receive in person mentorship from Joe Mimran, as well as $20,000 worth of technology from Staples Canada and Solutionshop services.

By Dick Synder

October 18, 2019