With Jinx, three former members of the Casper team are looking to bring what CEO Terri Rockovich called "the Casper playbook" to selling dog food.
The startup has raised $5.65 million from an all-star list of investors including Alexis Ohanian of Initialized Capital, Align Ventures, Brand Foundry, Wheelhouse Group, Will Smith and his family, the rapper Nas, singer Halsey, YouTube star/late night host Lilly Singh and TV personality/former NFL star Michael Strahan.
Rockovich previously served as vice president of acquisition and retention marketing at Casper, where she met her co-founders Sameer Mehta and Michael Kim. She said all three of them are "dog obsessives" who have experience trying to feed "picky eaters." And they were "hungry for a brand that is skinned in a way that is a lot more relatable to millennial consumer."
It's not just about taking regular dog food and selling it in a new way, either. Rockovich noted that an estimated 56% of dogs in the United States are overweight or obese. So Jinx's staff nutritionist — working with a larger nutrition council — has developed a line of kibble and treats that she said is "packed with organic proteins, diversified proteins and easy-to-process carbohydrates for a moderately active animal."
Jinx plans to start selling its first products in January. Rockovich said it will target pet owners with a certain set of "lifestyle attributes" — like living in an apartment, hiring dog walkers and owning dogs who sleep in their beds — and educate them so they actually examine the ingredients of their dog food, whether they buy it from Jinx or someone else.
"We understand the serious nature of creating something that goes into a body and kind of powers a lifestyle," she said. "We’ve been so conscious of that. Frankly, it’s delayed our timeline — we know we have to get it right."
As for how much this will cost, Rockovich said Jinx will "fall in the premium category." (If you're familiar with premium dog food brands, she said Jinx pricing be somewhere between Blue Buffalo and Orijen.)
And while the company will start off by selling directly to consumers through its website, Rockovich said her Casper experience has taught her the importance of having "some IRL presence, specifically in retail."