WHAT WE BELIEVE.
Virchew has created a completely new way to nourish dogs with foods that are naturally pure and healthy. Instead of using unnecessary animal ingredients, we make nutritionally complete and balanced meals and treats for dogs - packed with life-giving, plant-based ingredients. And, based on our doggy customer's feedback so far, our meals and treats are tasty, nourishing, and satisfying. Oh, and we delightfully deliver the delectables right to the dog’s door.
It's black and white. As a plant-based business for our best friends, there’s no grey area. We believe in doing the right thing. To be in complete integrity, we believe the ultimate brand for dogs (and their humans) is morally obligated to create foods and services grounded in humane virtues and social justice. We strive to give to the greater good.
Although most will think that Virchew is a dog food company, the purpose of Virchew is not to lead the present dog food industry. We make food for dogs. A subtle, yet powerful distinction. We're leading and innovating new ways to feed, care for and live with, our best friends.
This is 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 (and greenwashing) words for us at Virchew, they’re in our DNA, and we’re just getting started.
Pioneering a new way to feed, care for, and live with dogs could not happen overnight. Our unique, vertical business development plan (produce, market and deliver to the dog’s door) is the result of years of research, testing, and support. Check out the people, dogs, and serendipitous events that helped along the way to place us where we are today. Come, take a walk with us.
One day in 1989, founder Laura Simonson went to a natural health bookstore in Saskatoon, SK. 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, Laura 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, a border collie. She had already planned Shanti’s vegetarian diet, and after consulting a veterinarian friend, she decided on 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.
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 that the inspiration lightbulb went off! She knew what needed to be done and quickly linked this new idea all the way back to that moment in the book store in Saskatchewan and that glimpse of the vegetarian dog book.
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 or plant-based advocates seeking kind, healthy foods 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 in the business plan a system that could be duplicated in several large city centres
offer online shipping to smaller or rural areas anywhere in North America
cultivate an unstoppable team of passionate people who share similar virtues and values and believe in the power of thinking bold and BIG
raise capital through the collective power of many people (especially more women investors)
naturally include a social impact plan (good for the dog, good for the earth, good for our hearts).
Laura was doggedly 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, and 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 75 shareholders.
Among the exceptional shareholder community are eleven veterinarians, three medical doctors, two registered dietitians, a lawyer, a chartered accountant, a financial planner, a documentary producer, and two architects, to name but a few. It is also intriguing to note that 90% of the capital has been invested by women. Part of Laura’s BIG idea was to inspire more women to become investors. (Insert, YAY! here.)
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 the pandemic, 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 guardians 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 now poised to be the nutrition and leading lifestyle brand for dogs by inventing new ways to feed, care for 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.