The Bone Guy is a startup specializing in producing natural and nutritious pet food. Jean Lahdo’s story began when he adopted Shadow, a one-month-old German Shepherd, and like every pet owner, he used to buy treats from stores. With time, he started to get more attentive to different kinds of treats and their effects on Shadow’s overall health.
Finding himself unhappy with the unhealthy variety available at the market, Jean started cooking homemade treats to which Shadow showed excitement. This is when he created The Bone guy and joined the NEX-Labs program.
Q: How does your product work?
A: At first, we produced 4 kinds of natural human-safe treats suitable for dogs and cats. Now we have more than 15 different products that can be used for training, dental hygiene, a calming chew, or as a snack.
Q: What makes your solution special or unique?
A: We have 100% natural products with a minimum shelf life of one year in addition to upscaling wasted meat and organs to nutritional pet food which is one of the world’s strategies implemented to reduce food consumption and thus help improve sustainability and decrease the environmental impact of the food system.
Q: Who is benefiting from your solution?
A: Any pet owner who is interested in his pet’s health can benefit by being able to find natural, safe, and nutritional treats in the Lebanese market. In addition, slaughterhouses and farmers can benefit by selling their waste, instead of dumping it in an unsustainable and environmentally dangerous way.
Q: Why is your solution important to you?
A: Having a special product and owning a business that you are proud of, opens new doors for a person. It offers the potential to grow on a personal level, scale, gain new experience, and have an exciting entrepreneurial journey. In addition, having a business connects us in one way or another to our roots and the country.
Q: How is your solution relevant to your sector and Lebanon?
A: Good quality pet food in Lebanon is imported, rare, and expensive. In addition, the Lebanese pet food sector is still in its early phase and available Lebanese treats have a short shelf life of one to two months which is a big obstacle for sales. Thus, The Bone Guy knows about producing a product that has a shelf life of one-year minimum and therefore can be exported.
Q: Why did you apply to the program? What were you hoping to achieve when you applied to it?
A: At first, we applied to the NEX-LABS program to win a fund to upscale our production. However, once we started our journey with Berytech, we found the importance of training and gaining more knowledge about entrepreneurship, pitching, capturing investors, networking, knowing what legal entity to create and how, how to finance and audit, and what marketing strategy to implement. Now, we have a clear entrepreneurial vision and path to grow and scale and use any funds or opportunity in the right and most effective way.
Besides training – especially during the pitching phase, we recognized the importance of networking, what type of investor to search for, and what kind of legal entity is best for us. Furthermore, being selected by different Berytech jury members to be among the finalists of the “Femme Francophone Entrepreneur” competition, the Agrytech program, as well as winning the Nex-Lab program made us believe more and more in the success of our project. This gave us a push to go further in our business and made us revise our steps.
Q: What are the main challenges that you have faced so far?
A: Doing business in Lebanon is a main challenge, fluctuation in prices and the currency rate, scarcity in electricity, water… all are a bottleneck for any business and startup. Fortunately, till now we have survived these obstacles, through multiple exit strategies depending on the situation.
Q: How did you overcome these challenges?
A: For now, our main challenge is upscaling our production line. For this, we are searching for investors, or a cooperative to be part of, then we can upscale our production and be able to export.
Q: What is one thing you would have done differently throughout your journey?
A: We should have registered the company as a first step.
Q: Have you ever thought of giving up on your venture? If yes, what made you pull through?
A: Throughout our journey, we thought of giving up but our trust in the idea and our products, our customer and vet reviews, and the scale of the pet food market pulled out.
Q: What are your long-term goals as a startup?
A: Our long-term goal is to produce pet food (wet and dry) and export it worldwide.
Q: What advice would you give an entrepreneur who is starting in your industry?
A: Our advice for entrepreneurs who are starting their journey is simply to start, innovate, network, and put all the effort and time to succeed in the business.
An international consortium of 11 partners from 7 different countries across the Mediterranean joined forces to tackle the challenges of competitive and inclusive growth thanks to a nexus driven approach.
NEX-LABS project is co-funded by the European Union under the ENI CBC Mediterranean Sea Basin Programme and has the ambitious goal to set up a long-term regional policy of the Mediterranean Strategy for Sustainable Development.