Nathan Perry & James Lacy, co-founders, Denzel’s – Forbes Advisor UK
Nathan Perry and James Lacy co-founded Denzel, the healthy snacks start-up for dogs, in 2018 with funding from Virgin StartUp.
Within 12 months, the brand was stocked in over 1,500 locations and had grown by over 500% by the end of the second year, having also ensured distribution across Europe. Last year they received new investments from Holly Branson and a number of other private investors, which allowed them to continue their growth.uh.
Named after James’ Cocker Spaniel Denzel, the company aims to help owners keep their dogs healthy, resulting in fewer vet visits, lower insurance premiums, and happier pets. .
What set you on the path to success?
James: We both studied Animal Science and Nutrition at the University of Nottingham, which sparked our interest in the pet food industry. After both spending several years in the industry, we saw the need for a younger company that focuses on healthier, better, locally sourced and environmentally friendly alternatives that could meet the needs of needs of health conscious and millennial pet owners.
Nathan: Denzel’s was born to meet these needs while having a positive impact on the environment and its supply chain, rather than damaging it. And we always strive to get things done to create better alternatives for dog owners.
Did you have a hero when you were younger?
James: David Attenborough. My sister bought me her documentaries on DVD as a gift. I would watch them on repeat!
Nathan: Michelangelo of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He was awesome – he was kidding, everyone loved him and ate pizza all the time while others did all the work. Hero!
Do you have one now?
James: David Attenborough is still my hero and a world treasure. It continues to highlight the impact we have on the world and other animals.
Nathan: Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson – I admire his work ethic, ambition and success. Absolute legend!
Are you easily bored?
James: No, I’m pretty happy when I relax with a cold drink!
Nathan: I’m not sure, but I suspect people would say I do. I can’t sit still for long!
Who do you admire in business and in life in general?
James: We’re both quite similar on this aspect. There are many business leaders who inspire us because they always put the right things before their own interests.
Nathan: For us, it is important to put sustainability and quality before financial interest. One of our great business inspirations is Virgin and the Branson family. With such success and such a platform, the fact that they take the time to focus on supporting charities and helping start-ups reach their potential is amazing. The work they’ve done through Virgin Startup, for example, has been a lifeline for us and other entrepreneurs.
How would you describe your leadership style?
James: I am more of the calm and stable type. I lead from the front, and I have a calm and decisive presence.
Nathan: I like to be the driving force of the team. Energy, enthusiasm and team spirit are important to me, and I think setting the tone for a company like this helps keep everything moving forward.
What are your ambitions?
Common response: We want Denzel’s to be the leading brand for healthy, sustainable snacks for pets. We don’t think treating your four-legged friends with healthy and delicious snacks should hurt the planet.
Do you believe in luck?
James: Yes of course! I think there is always an element of luck in being successful. That said, you must purchase a ticket to win the lottery!
Nathan: No, I believe you are making your own luck (corny as it sounds).
What qualities do you look for in your colleagues?
James: I like to think that if people want to try and try to be successful then you can do it in any role. Learning stuff is the easiest part if you like it, then drive and enthusiasm really matter.
Nathan: Honesty, personal motivation and passion.
Micro-manage or big picture?
James: I think it’s important to be able to do both when running a small business and a serious start-up. You need to be able to balance the details without getting caught up in things that don’t really make a difference overall. Easier said than done!
Nathan: I agree with James (or could say “What he just said!”).
Do you think the company is valued by society?
James: We think businesses are generally liked by most people. That said, when companies are very successful and become large multinationals, they can often be seen in a bad light. Sometimes fair or unfairly, but I think it’s hard to please everyone.
Nathan: For us, the main thing you should ask yourself as a business is: am I helping or hurting? Rightly so, the company now expects businesses to be more than just the bottom line.
We would like to think that we bring value and joy to our customers and that we have built in sustainability and responsibility from the start. We want to make pets and their owners happier to interact with us – and have a positive impact on our industry by encouraging better sustainability and green practices.
We truly believe that the best companies and products make a positive impact around them – sustainable, healthy dog treats leave the world a better place, but also your dog healthier, which means less stress, fewer visits. at the vet, lower pet insurance costs, etc. All of this makes happy owners and customers.
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How do you think business will change from 2021?
James: I think 2020 has been a very difficult year for many companies but because of it there was time to reflect and appreciate the positive things people can do when they come together to help each other. More emphasis on community.
Nathan: I think there will be a strong increase in small and medium-sized businesses that put goal before profit. Whether focusing on their environmental impact or on people.
How would you like like business to change from 2021?
James: I would like to see companies improve in all areas to meet the positive values of their customers. In 2020 we saw how many problems are caused by plastic, unsustainable processes, and not putting people first and doing the right thing. I would love to see this change for the better.
Nathan: Hopefully, much bigger companies will be pushed to take notice and follow suit to make a positive change in strategy and in turn impact the world.
Here is a magic wand – what are you going to do?
Nathan: For small businesses and those affected by 2020/21 to recover from the difficult times we have experienced.
James: Also for a beer that does not contain yeast please! Anyone help?
What is your favorite time of day?
James: A well-deserved cold drink at the end of the working day sitting down with Denzel.
Nathan: First thing in the morning, looking at the day ahead.
Common response: Continue to gain market share in the pet category, replace single-use plastic packaging with biodegradable products and provide healthier treat options to pet owners across Europe.