Pet Life Today sat down with Alex Jarrell, Chief Experience Officer and co-founder of NomNomNow. She tells us about what brought her to the mission of selling healthier dog food and where she’s hoping to bring her company.
Alex is an expert in customer experience management, and is a true caretaker at heart. Growing up on a farm in Tennessee as the daughter of a veterinarian, Alex’s love of animals blossomed early in life, and has shaped who she is today. After witnessing dramatic health improvements in her own dog, Harlee, as a result of a fresh diet, Alex was determined to help pet parents everywhere experience the powerful benefits of nourishing their pets with fresh food. She set out to create the healthiest, most effective pet nutrition company the world, and strives to make the pet food industry drastically more transparent. Alex cares deeply about transparency and education in the pet food industry, and wants to provide pet parents with the tools they need to ask the right questions of pet food brands, understand the importance of proper nutrition, and make well-informed decisions about their pets’ health.
1. I would love to just sort of back-up and get the 30,000-foot view. We’ve written about NomNomNow before, but I’m not sure all of our audience know who you are and what you do. So, what’s your elevator pitch these days for what NomNomNow is and what you do?
A: I’d be happy to share! Whenever I am asked what I do for work, I have the pleasure of saying I work for my dog 🙂 That is always a conversation starter. We created NomNomNow with one mission – improve the lives of pets through better nutrition. Using only human-grade ingredients, we prepare recipes that have been formulated and tested by a board-certified veterinary nutritionist to ensure they are balanced and complete. We then portion those meals to meet the caloric needs of each pet we are serving (sadly over 55% of the pets in the US are overweight or obese). These meals arrive fresh to our customers’ doors just days after being prepared.
2. Give us the story of how NomNomNow came to be?
A: For me, it started in 2014 when I became dog-mom to my Miniature Australian Shepherd, Harlee. All the pet parents out there will understand how she was instantly my baby girl and part of the family, not just a pet. When she was about a year old, we found out after much sickness and many vet visits that she had a weak immune system and was unable to fight off common ailments that a healthy puppy could. When modern medicine couldn’t help her, our veterinarian recommended boosting her immune system more naturally through a home-cooked diet. She provided us with a balanced recipe to make at home. After seeing the difference it made in Harlee’s health (she has not been to vet except for wellness checkups since!) and finding no solution out there to provide this type of service, my husband, brother-in-law, our friend, and I decided we would do it ourselves, and NomNomNow was born!
3. What is the biggest pain point(s) that NomNomnow has addressed for new customers?
A: Honestly, there are so many. I could talk about the convenience of our pre-portioning, the freshness of the meals, the ease of delivery, and the reassurance of our board-certified veterinary nutritionist, Dr. Justin Shmalberg, but I think there is one area we address that does not get nearly enough recognition – the customer onboarding and education provided by our account management team. Changing your pet’s diet is a huge decision. There are so many factors to evaluate and so much conflicting or inconsistent information provided to pet parents. It has always been very important to me that every pet parent feel supported when making this decision and have a dedicated team of wonderful people, to which customers can reach out with any questions they might have along the way. One consistent theme in nearly all of our customer reviews is praise for our customer service and account managers. They truly provide a quality of service and level of care equal to that of our food.
4. How much does NomNomNow cost for pets?
A: Great question and probably one that we are asked most often. Our pricing depends on how much food your pet needs per delivery. We take into account age, weight (both target and current), the level of activity, and the frequency of delivery. I can use my own dog, Harlee, as an example. She is now a spunky 26lb, high-activity gal. For bi-weekly deliveries, her cost is $66.98 (for a box of 28 single-serve, perfectly-portioned meals). That is only $2.39 per meal for my fur-child. I can honestly say I would much rather spend less than $5 a day on her preventative care than $1500 for an unplanned vet visit.
5. In the long run what is the vision for NomNomNow?
A: My NomNomNow teammates give me a well-meaning, hard time because when asked what I want to be able to do, I consistently answer, “Feed all the dogs and cats everywhere!” Our vision has always been and will always be to provide the best nutrition to improve the lives of pets. Selfishly, I want my dog Harlee to see my 10-month-old son off to college. That is only 18 years from now and I am very optimistic about her still being around. Why should 14 years old be seen as a senior? Ultimately, we want to become a nose-to-tail pet health company, rooted in the core values of transparency and integrity, offering products and services backed by scientific experts that improve the lives of pets and their humans.
6. Why should pet parents feed a fresh diet instead of kibble or raw?
A: To me, it is about quality and value. Think about the process that ingredients, even the best ingredients, have to go through to become kibble. How can these ingredients maintain optimal nutrient capacity? Surely there is degradation. I also find it difficult to trust something I cannot see. A brown pellet of kibble looks nothing like chicken, carrots, or spinach.
Raw food is absolutely a step above kibble and provides many of the same benefits that customers report from fresh. However for puppies, seniors, and pets with compromised immune systems like my Harlee, feeding raw comes with a risk. Because raw foods are not cooked, there is a higher bacterial risk associated with feeding that food to both the pet and their human family. My 10-month-old son LOVES Harlee’s food bowl. If we fed raw and did not take the time to properly disinfect after every meal, my son could also be at risk.
I think it is so important for pet parents to do their research and consult with their veterinarians when choosing a new diet for their pets. A fresh diet may not be the best choice for everyone, but as pet parents it is our responsibility to be well-informed and make educated choices for our beloved pets who cannot choose for themselves.
7. How is NomNomNow different from other fresh pet food companies?
A: First, I would like to commend all of the companies in our space for the work they are doing to improve pet health! It is so awesome how quickly the category is growing and how many pets are now eating cooked meals. It takes a village to create change and we will truly rise by supporting those around us!
At NomNomNow, we are a different in a few ways.
- We are the only made-to-order pet food out there. We do not carry inventory and only prepare meals twice weekly so that our Nommers are eating their food just days after it is prepared. No degradation of nutrients here!
- We are the only truly custom-portioned pet food available. We take the time to portion each individual meal down to the gram for what each pet needs calorically. One bag is one meal. Other companies may claim to be pre-portioned, but if you have to measure or scoop the food, then it isn’t pre-portioned.
- We are backed by experts. All of our recipes are formulated and tested by board-certified veterinary nutritionist, Dr. Justin Shmalberg. He is one of less than 100 veterinarians in the U.S. with this rare accreditation. In addition, our food safety efforts are led by Dr. Ryan Honaker, our Director of Microbiology, one of the country’s foremost experts in microbiome manipulation, infection therapeutics, and microbial community profiling.
- We own and operate our own facilities. We oversee every step of the production process from ordering and prepping ingredients, to gently cooking the food, to custom portioning each meal, to packing each box. Your pet’s food will never leave our sight until it exits our kitchen on its way to you, in the trustworthy hands of our shipping partners. We do not use co-manufacturers or outsourced kitchens to produce our meals.