BuddyBrands on the cutting edge of pet science

BuddyBrands 3

Wichita-based BuddyBrands started by building better beds to help canines get their sleep.  The company has expanded its offerings to include so much more.

The BuddyRest story begins seven years ago when company Co-founder, Trevor Crotts’ labradoodle, Buddy, visited the vet.

Crotts happened to be a corporate trainer in the mattress industry at the time, so he was keenly aware of the importance of proper support systems in promoting long-term health. Crotts was aware that large dogs like Buddy are prone to painful and debilitating joint problems. Larger dogs usually live shorter lives because of these problems.

Unable to find a dog bed that offered the same type of support found in mattresses for humans, Crotts and his co-founder, Jordan Tibbetts, set about designing and manufacturing a bed that would provide dogs like Buddy optimal sleep support by applying technology in human mattresses to dog beds.

Together they founded BuddyRest (named after Buddy, of course) in 2017. Crotts, a 2018 Pipeline Fellow, explained that his company started “heads down, bootstrapping from the beginning.” He said, “We attacked it with white-knuckled, scrappy determination. It was rough in the beginning to build momentum, but we kept seeing success, so we kept on going.”

BuddyRest orthopedic dog beds are designed with special fabric that rarely needs washing, Kevlar thread that is five times stronger than other threads, and high-end materials that offer superior comfort and durability, eliminate odor, and repel stains and spills. Most importantly, according to Crotts, is that the dog bed redistributes the dog’s weight across the bed, relieving joint pressure. Crotts noted that BuddyRest beds are recommended as the #1 dog bed in the market by veterinarians, and the durable, easy-to-maintain beds are preferred for postoperative recovery.

Trevor Crotts, Co-founder and President of BuddyBrands, and Buddy

The company continues significant strides as its brand grows in popularity in the pet-care industry. Through a build and buy strategy, Buddy Brands has acquired and built several other brands in the pet space and now has a portfolio of pet companies that market different products to different people.

Crotts said the goal now is to capture as much market-share a possible. The company’s brands include BuddyRest, Natural Doggie, Pup IQ, and Tough Pup; BuddyBrand products have been featured on National Shopping Television and in several prestigious catalogs such as FrontGate and Skymall.

“Our team is a collection of passionate innovators. We’re proud of our operation here in Wichita where we make, sell, and distribute all of our own products. Our facility is all-inclusive, from design, to cutting and sewing on our production floor, to warehousing.”

Crotts praised the support the company has received from the local Wichita community. He joined the e2e Accelerator inaugural class in 2017 and said “It opened our eyes to how much business experience is all around us here in Wichita. The community in Wichita has rallied around us, and I would say that we have a strategic advantage being in Wichita. There is tremendous value in being a big fish in small pond and locating a business among people who bring so much value to startups here.”

He added, “The level of support we have received has been transformative for our business. Mentors have been helping where they could and offering advice – it shows how powerful collaboration over competition truly is.”

Crotts applied to Pipeline in 2017 but was not accepted that year. Humbled but undeterred, Crotts reapplied a year later. He was accepted and called the experience “transformative”.

“The Pipeline family really embraced us and brought us in as their own; we’ve been fortunate to collaborate across the region, and the experience has helped us find opportunities on a regional level, and has opened doors to sell internationally in Hong Kong, Canada, and Australia.”

“We’re significantly diversified, though the vast majority of customers are veterinarians and families, but it depends on the brand. We also manufacture and sell tactical products for police dogs for example, but our main focus is on the Natural Doggie brand which we are working to expand into other sales channels,” said Crotts.

When asked what advice he has to offer. He said, “Encouraging entrepreneurship is important but it needs to be done with a degree of caution. Starting up is incredibly hard; it’s not for everyone, and I have seen it not work. Founders have to be passionate and must be able to weather the storm and take the highs with the lows and remain even and steady. It’s critical to commit 100% and never quit.”

Crotts added, “Founders will have to put up with a tremendous amount of opposition, so it’s important to take a measured approach to feedback. Founding a startup is not what most people think it is; it’s rough and it’s a sacrifice, and there’s a degree of poverty. We have learned to do a lot with a little. We do the best we can with what we have. We have a small team, but huge ambition. Ultimately, it is about being willing to bet on yourself and find a way forward.”

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