This is the sixth installment of an interview series with the 2021 Target Takeoff Pets cohort. Participating companies are sharing, in their own words, details about their innovative companies. All interviews have been conducted by the Target Takeoff Program Management Team. 

Meet Jiminy’s.

Anne Carlson, CEO/Founder of Jiminy’s

TT: What’s the one-liner description of Jiminy’s?

Anne: Jiminy’s makes delicious, sustainable, insect-based pet food and treats that nourish our pets and promote long-term stewardship of the earth. If you were to limit me to just four words, I’d say: “Happy Pets, Happy Planet.”

TT: What inspired you to start Jiminy’s? What makes what you are doing different from anyone else in the marketplace?

Anne: The inspiration for Jiminy’s was very personal. It was climate change by the way of my daughter, Boothe. She wasn’t sure if she wanted to have kids given the environmental havoc created by climate change, She didn’t think it’d be fair to pass the problem on to another generation. I’ve always wanted a a grandchild, so it got me thinking about how I could use my experience in the pet industry to help solve the problem of climate change.

What makes Jiminy’s different? That might be the easiest question I answer this week! We use an alternative protein – crickets and grubs (black soldier fly larvae) – as our protein rather than traditional proteins like beef or chicken. Our insect proteins are sustainable (Jiminy’s saved 280 million gallons of water last year), pre-biotic, nutritious, hypoallergenic, food safe, and of course, fight climate change.

TT: How did you decide it was the right time. too join an Accelerator? What are you most looking forward to getting out of the Target Takeoff experience? 

Anne: I needed to be sure we were ready. It’s hard to overcome a bad first impression, so with everything we’ve done – the Jiminy’s name, the packaging design, recipes, etc. – we’ve been very aware of not jumping the gun. Right now, our treats are well-established and our food’s been selling for a year, so we have a good understanding of each one’s supply and manufacturing timelines. That’s the time add another level of complexity.

Learning how to work with a company the size of Target is what I’m looking forward to most. Each retailer has unique challenges and puzzles to solve and target represents an incredibly big and unique footprint. I like puzzles so figuring out the best way to fit Jiminy’s within that framework really appeals to me. The aspect that perhaps intrigues me the most will be learning how to educate the Target guest. What will be the best way to approach them with our alternative problem? To see that process through and find the winning strategy is exciting to me.

 

TT: What currently keeps you up at night, as a founder/leader of Jiminy’s?

Anne: The thought of not having enough product to meet the demand would do the job. Impacting sustainability and climate change on an even larger scale means we’ll need more product to keep pace. It’s been a focus for us to plan way ahead so we can be on top of our goals rather than getting chased down by them. Luckily, I’ve slept well so far.

TT: How do you stay motivated through the ups and downs of growing a business? 

Anne: Climate change still threatens the planet so I keep following our North Star – reducing the amount of greenhouse gases produced by pet food and pet treats. It’s tremendously energizing to see the results we’re generating. The latest numbers show Jiminy’s has averted 25 million grams of greenhouse gases in th last year. We’re all in a race to slow down climate change and Jiminy’s proves that even the pet sector can make a big difference. That lifts my spirits when we’re surprised by a new problem to manage. Of course, it’s also a huge boost when everything’s running smoothly. Good news is good news.

Fast forward 1 year from now: where do you seee your company and your team?

Anne: I see a bigger company, a bigger team, and a bigger product portfolio. It’s interesting being a start-up – it’s like introducing a new puppy into your home. We went from steadying ourselves on our newly formed feet to gaining confidence and familiarity with our surroundings to feeling at home and a part of the family. Now we’re a growing dog and moving into a bigger house! Keeping it fresh mean we’ll continue expanding our new grub-based training treat line. We’ve just unveiled the Peanut Butter & Cranberry grub-base training treats and have a second flavor already in process. On top of that, there are some new product forms in the planning stages, so that’ll be challenging. Finally, I can’t add anything further on the most exciting front, except to say that the dogs won’t be the only ones happy about the coming news.

For more information on Jiminy’s and their products, visit jiminys.com