WHAT WE BELIEVE.
Virchew has created a completely new way to nourish dogs with foods that are naturally kind, green, and healthy. Instead of using unnecessary animal ingredients, we make nutritionally complete meals and treats for dogs - packed with plant-based ingredients - that are tasty, nourishing, and satisfying. Plus, we deliver the delectables right to the dog’s door.
It's black and white. As a plant-based business for our best friend, there’s no grey area. We believe in doing the right thing. We believe the ultimate business for dogs always creates foods and service solutions grounded in humane and social justice. We strive to give to the greater good.
Virchew is not just food for dogs, it’s a celebration of foods and services that are good for our dogs, good for our earth, and good for our hearts. Health, sustainability, and compassion aren’t just marketing words, they’re in our DNA. And we’re just getting started.
Pioneering a new way to feed, and live with, dogs cannot happen overnight. Plus, our unique, vertical business development plan (produce, market and deliver to the dog’s door) took a lot of time, testing, and support. Check out the people, dogs, and serendipitous events that helped along the way to reach where we are today. Come, take a walk with us.
One day in 1989, co-founder Laura Simonson went to a natural health bookstore in Saskatoon, Sask. It was a highly unusual store for its time and so was a book she happened upon. The self-published book title eluded to ‘vegetarian dogs’. (The word ‘vegan’ was not yet mainstream.) Since she was a bona fide natural health foodie, competitive bodybuilder, athlete, passionate animal lover, and considering vegetarianism herself, she was intrigued and the idea stuck.
Fast forward to 2001, now a vegetarian and after several years as a top-selling realtor and sales manager, Laura pursued one of her first entrepreneurial business ideas: to open the first health & fitness studio of its kind, supported by personal growth programs and vegetarian catering. Laura created the programs and personally provided the catering each week. It was during that same year she found her dream dog, Shanti, the border collie. She had already planned Shanti’s vegetarian diet. After consulting with a veterinarian friend, she decided to make a home-cooked diet combined with a veterinary, vegetarian formula. Shanti quickly became the studio’s living mascot as she delighted clients and friends alike with her boundless energy.
In 2008, through a fortuitous event, Laura met Gord Espeseth, an entrepreneur, innovator, and businessman who was also a vegetarian. With a background as a farmer, bush pilot, social worker, international food broker, owner of a food production company, and inventor of TRAK Kayaks (National Geographic dubbed TRAK the world’s ultimate kayak), Gord and Laura were the perfect match. But, this isn’t about the love story, that’s for another time. ;) Gord was the perfect match to play a support role for Laura’s next BIG idea: a vegetarian food company with a social venture foundation. However, Laura’s concept was still in the ‘idea’ stage.
One day in December 2009, while assisting a friend with a food demo at a West Vancouver Whole Foods store, Laura took a break to walk down the dog food aisle. As she scanned the shelves and saw the absence of a vegetarian or vegan option, it was at that moment she literally felt a ‘knowing’. That knowing linked all the way back to the book title in that unusual store.
From that day forward, the idea was complete and Virchew was born.
A BIG IDEA AND A WHITEBOARD.
In the spring of 2010, Laura and Gord put their serial entrepreneur experience to the test. They took to the whiteboard and began the creation of Virchew's development plan. After hundreds of hours, research, meetings, and interviews Virchew would:
be an extraordinary, plant-based food option for everyone and their dog, and veterinarians, not just vegan advocates seeking kind food for their dogs
employ a vertical business model (produce, market, deliver) and therefore would not be a typical retail company
be the first evidence-based, vegan food for dogs supported by veterinary partnerships and evidence-based case studies
have no need for retail systems. The marketing, sales, and distribution system would be composed of veterinary partnerships and B2B affiliates or collaborations, and customer referral programs
include Laura’s BIG idea business plan that could be duplicated in several, large city centers
offer online shipping to smaller or rural areas anywhere in North America
naturally include a social impact plan (good for the dog, good for the earth, good for our hearts).
Laura was dogged and determined to successfully finance this social venture through the power of many people who shared similar virtues such as -integrity, kindness, transparency, and social contribution - supported by strong business acumen. With the exciting business plan in hand, Laura and Gord set out to share the meaningful and timely Virchew idea with their network. Even though the idea was pioneering at the time, the response was very promising.
Through a series of funding rounds with like-minded investors, the formation of Virchew’s development plan has now been supported by over 70 shareholders.
Among the exceptional shareholder community are eleven veterinarians, two medical doctors, two registered dieticians, a lawyer, a chartered accountant, a financial planner, a documentary producer, and an architect to name a few. And, also intriguing to note, over ¾ of the capital has been invested by women. Part of Laura’s BIG idea was to inspire more women to become investors. (Insert here: Yay!)
MONEY AND MEANING.
After several years of determination, Virchew has built an extraordinary foundation to match a perfect launch timing that serves two fast-growing, multi-billion dollar, global markets: Premium Foods for Dogs and Plant-Based Foods.
In Fall 2020, following a long delay due to Covid 19, Virchew was launched in Greater Vancouver to a community of long-time followers. The first goal was to hold a soft launch and establish a Special Customer Club composed of vegan or plant-based pet parents to test the foods for taste and convenience. Secondly, to learn more about production, distribution, and marketing needs prior to beginning their 2021 Capital Campaign.
The response was extremely positive (to say the least). Between countless reports of happy dogs, feeding frenzies and promising health changes, Virchew is now delivering delight to dozens of dogs and excited pet parents.
There have been a whole lot of smiles and hugs lately at Virchew HQ. :)
Although this story may read like the beginning of a dog food company, the goal of Virchew is not to lead the present dog food industry.
Virchew is poised to be the leading lifestyle brand for dogs by inventing new ways to feed, and live with, our best friends.
Perfectly positioned between two multi-billion dollar markets and infused with social impact virtues, Virchew is a recipe for boundless possibilities and prosperity for all.
WE'RE JUST GETTING STARTED.