8 minute read
Startup Story

Pet supply company Oliver Pets grows to reach customers across Latin America

A group photo of Oliver Pets team

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Argentinian entrepreneur Gonzalo Sisack Novillo built his startup out of a pet project—literally. While working at his family's pet store and the veterinary clinic as a child, Gonzalo witnessed the wide range of pet owner concerns spanning from the best dog food to getting emergency veterinarian help. Realizing that most “pawrents” didn’t have time to figure out all these details, Gonzalo sought to create a more personalized, 24/7 experience for discovering pet products and services. “I wanted to make it really simple for pet parents with a one-stop-shop,” said Gonzalo. “You should be able to order pet food and get the best vet insurance, and get it all in three hours or less.”

Gonzalo recognized that world-class tech was the key to creating an innovative customer experience—but without an engineering background or previous startup experience, he needed help to disrupt the $100 billion pet care industry. So he teamed up with COO María Nougués and CTO Gastón Dedieu to create Oliver Pets, a platform that utilizes AI to tailor the individual experience of each pet parent based on their pet profiles and data. “As we built the company, we were focused on solving problems in a better way than anyone else,” remembers Gonzalo. “To replicate the veterinarian experience through technology, I had to read and learn and build. The most important thing is knowing what questions to ask and when.“

Next, Oliver Pets needed to reach the right audience. To ramp up customer acquisition, Gonzalo attended a Google Ads workshop hosted by the longtime Google for Startups partner AreaTres, in 2018—and saw major results. “The workshop validated our knowledge in Google Search and Google Shopping Ads, which allowed us to efficiently acquire customers and grow 20% month over month,” said Gonzalo. During the three-month program, the Oliver Pets team worked with Google mentors to tackle branding, customer acquisition, and international expansion. “Google mentors helped us with everything, from rebranding to thinking about global scale and determining where and how to scale,” said Gonzalo. “They helped us with keywords and everything about Google Ads to figure out customer acquisition. That helped us to understand that Mexico was the best place for international expansion.”

This knowledge of the Mexican startup ecosystem was a direct result of Google’s global network of partners, mentors, and industry experts. Google for Startups partners with over 80 startup organizations around the world to help startup ecosystems grow by offering access to Google’s network of experts, technical content, and best practices. AreaTres first joined the Google partner network in 2017 to connect the Argentinian startups in their coworking spaces to an international support system. AreaTres founder Martin Frankel and Mexico City-based Centraal founder Rogelio Cuevas Ruiz immediately bonded at the annual Google for Startups partner summit over their shared mission in Latin America: “As two Spanish-speaking, startup-focused organizations, we formed an extremely valuable relationship that persists to this day,” remembers Martin. Through regular syncs and yearly in-person meetings, the Centraal and AreaTres teams built a friendship on a personal and professional level that has only deepened as the two teams navigate the challenges brought about by the pandemic—and help founders like Gonzalo start, build, and grow their companies.

After helping to identify Mexico as Oliver Pet’s next expansion opportunity, AreaTres introduced Gonzalo to their friends at Centraal. “When Gonzalo let us know that they had near-term plans to enter the Mexican market, we knew Centraal could not only provide a physical workspace but also the knowledge of the local market,” said Martin. “The deep trust we had already established with Centraal and the preeminent role they play in the Mexican ecosystem made for a connection we were happy to provide and strongly encouraged.” Thanks to this built-in support system, the Oliver Pets team hit the ground running when they arrived in Mexico City for the Google for Startups Accelerator: Latin America in early 2020. “We had never been to Mexico before, but Centraal gave us a soft landing,” remembers Gonzalo. “We took a taxi straight to Centraal, and they gave us everything we needed to know—like an MBA of Mexico in one day. They became family, they understood what we needed.” With a strategy informed by key insights about the local market and the support of Centraal and Google Accelerator mentorship, Oliver Pets launched in Mexico in late 2020.

MisPichos (as Oliver Pets is known in Argentina) is now the #1 platform in sales of premium pet products in the country, with over 100,000 customers. Since joining the Google for Startups global community, Gonzalo has been able to grow his team by 60% to more than 30 employees across Latin America as well as launch around-the-clock virtual veterinarian care through their app. Most recently, the Oliver Pets team received investment from Mars to run a pilot in the U.S. “Google played a fundamental role in our learning and growth process within the startup world,” said Gonzalo. “The Google for Startups Accelerator and the Google for Startups partner network showed us the potential of being a global company and not thinking of our value proposition only for the local market. Google opened as many doors as it could without expecting any investment or anything in return.”

Gonzalo’s advice for aspiring founders? You get out what you put in: “I learned that the best opportunities will sometimes come at inopportune times. The possibility is in the extra mile, it’s in what you want to give.”

Google is dedicated to making stories like Gonzalo’s a reality for many more founders across Latin America. Applications are now open for the next Google for Startups Accelerator in Mexico and will be reviewed on a rolling basis with the next cohort joining later this year.

Learn more about Oliver Pets