‘Braced for growth’: How Austin startup Pet Honesty has become a national brand
Austin American Statesman
By Lori Hawkins
Published September 2022

Four years ago, entrepreneurs Ben and Camille Arneberg created their company, Pet Honesty, as an e-commerce outlet to sell natural pet supplements.

The Austin-based startup grew by selling its pet vitamins on its website as well as on sites including Amazon.com and Chewy.com. During the coronavirus pandemic, a sales boost came from people adopting pets and spending more time at home with them. Now the company is taking a big leap, with a new CEO, a new downtown Austin headquarters and a major launch into its first brick-and-mortar retail venture by entering 1,500 Petco locations nationwide.

“Pet Honesty has built a loyal and growing online following of health-conscious pet parents who seek products made with natural ingredients,” said CEO Richard Greenberg. “There has been interest from retailers for the last couple years, and the company wanted to be very patient. Petco was the perfect fit.”

‘Large growth opportunity’

Greenberg said company research has found that 29% of pets are given supplements. “There remains a large growth opportunity,” he said. “We have a pretty diverse customer base,” he said. “It’s that proactive pet parent. Often times they’re giving their children a multivitamin, they might be taking a supplement themselves. They’re looking to treat their four-legged children the same as they treat their two-legged children.”

The company has high-profile displays and interactive surveys with QR codes at Petco stores to help pet owners and employees determine the most suitable supplements, Greenberg said.

Pet Honesty’s supplements include its Multivitamin 10-in-1, which the company says supports overall health in adult dogs, as well as a range of supplements that target joint, immune, digestive and skin health for both cats and dogs. The company does not disclose where its supplements are produced, but Greenberg said they are made in the United States.

Retail prices for a jar of 90 supplements sold online and in stores begin at $26.99, with special formulations and maximum strengths ranging between $28.99 to $40.99. One jar would typically supply a small to medium dog for three months, according to the company.

Greenberg joined the company this year following a majority investment in Pet Honesty by New York-based private equity firm Vestar Capital Partners. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Vestar Capital Partners. has a background in investing in the pet food industry and consumer brands. The firm previously owned Big Heart Pet Brands, whose products include Meow Mix, Milk-Bone and Natural Balance. Vestar’s current investments include Dr. Praeger’s Sensible Foods, a manufacturer of plant-based foods; Simple Mills, a organic cracker, cookie and baking mix brand, and Presence Marketing, a national sales broker that represents natural and organic food, beverage and personal care brands.

Pet Honesty founder Ben Arneberg will continue to serve as a director on the company’s board, and he and his family will retain their “significant investment” in the company, Vestar said. “We have been fortunate to find the right partner in Vestar, which remains committed to our business strategy and will help provide the financial backing, indust1y relationships and catego1y expertise needed to build on our momentum,” Areberg said.

Greenberg has spent the past two decades as a consumer product goods executive, most recently servicing as chief commercial officer of Sovos, which had an initial public offering in fall of 2021. Sovos’ brands include Rao’s Homemade, Noosa Yoghurt, Birch Benders and Michael Angelo’s.

‘The company is growing’

Greenberg said Pet Honesty will be looking for additional brick-and-mortar retail opportunities.

As the 40-person company is ramping up for this new wave of growth, it has moved into a new headquarters in downtown Austin at 211 E. Seventh St. “The size of our staff has doubled in the last 12 months,” Greenberg said.” The company is growing and is really braced for growth as we launch into retail.” The downtown move is intended to boost company culture. “We love the energy and vibe of downtown that it provides,” Greenberg said. “We are a high energy, passionate company and building our culture is a big part of building momentum for the company.”