Career Spotlight, Executive MBA, Executive Student Profile

Darden Executive MBA Student Stakes Claim in Pet Wellness Industry

By Maggie Dodson-
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Head of a rapidly expanding startup, Darden Executive MBA student Brian Larsen (Class of 2020) is leading the way in the growing pet health and wellness industry. Larsen is co-founder, president and CEO of RestoraPet Inc., a health supplement company for pets, including dogs, cats and even horses.

His timing couldn’t be better. Pet ownership has increased by 12 percent in the last 30 years — a statistic that Forbes credits to a shift in culture as Millenials and Generation Z embrace pet ownership with unprecedented enthusiasm — and The Washington Post recently examined the business of pet wellness, including a spotlight on Larsen and RestoraPet.

After Larsen’s own experience watching a beloved pet’s health decline, he tapped into his background in chemistry and biology to develop the unique recipe that would become RestoraPet, according to Post business columnist Thomas Heath:

The painful experience proved pivotal, inspiring a resolve to help pets live better lives and what he views as his calling. Now 33, Larsen is the founder and chief executive of RestoraPet, a Gaithersburg, Md.-based maker of pet supplements.

He said his special blend of 12 antioxidants works this way: “As you get older, your cells start to break down. Free radicals attack your cells and your DNA. RestoraPet goes in and stands guard and says, ‘Take a piece of me instead of the cell.’ It protects the body.”

The combination of supplements and strong business have proved successful thus far for the Washington, D.C., area company.

RestoraPet is now sold in 90 countries and is on track to gross more than $2 million this year.

Larsen has 15 full-time employees, including five at the 8,000-square-foot factory where the supplements are mixed and bottled, and said he expects revenue to reach $10 million next year.

The company is in the fifth year of a business model built around cultivating a recurring revenue stream. Though carried by a handful of independent pet stores and veterinarian offices, most sales are done online. The company is now moving toward a subscription model. A month’s supply currently runs about $30.

Hoping to grow his business acumen and “round out” his business skills, Larsen decided to pursue an MBA.

It was a fellow Darden student — a service member working on his MBA — who helped Larsen connect with [RestoraPet investor Morton] Meyerson. The Texan has a long history of hiring and supporting veterans and was coming off a failed attempt to get cannabis legalized in his state as treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder in the military.

“So I turned my attention to pets,” Meyerson said. “I am a dog lover. I have had many dachshunds. I wanted something that had a chance of helping pets for anxiety and for arthritis as they get old. Once I decided that, I discovered what Brian was doing, and it was a perfect fit.”

Read the full story in The Washington Post and listen to a Darden Executive MBA podcast featuring Larsen.

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