It is not without irony that MusicForPets, an empire of soothing music for pets nicknamed “Petflix” by its grateful users, was first inspired by the notorious MS-13 gang in El Salvador. The story of how a Manchester entrepreneur took his last £1,000 and transformed it into a thriving seven figure business is a mixture of passion and serendipity, and a pivot that made all the difference.
In 2011, Amman Ahmed decided to invest what was left of his student loan in a company called Roundwaves, to make soothing audio to help busy people unwind. He found composer Ricardo Henriquez online, and they started working together on a series of relaxing audio tracks. However, both quickly noticed that not only were humans pleasantly zoning out to the backing tracks, but pets were responding as well.
Henriquez is based in Central America’s smallest country, El Salvador, a country known in part for infamous gangs such as MS-13. His dog Zuki suffered from anxiety whenever the noises of gun violence filled his neighborhood, so he came up with the idea of composing specifically to relax his dog. Intrigued, Ahmed added his own research in the field of the music therapy for pets, and their collaboration produced some astonishing results. Ahmed recalls, “Seeing Zuki relaxed and happy was my eureka moment. Pets have genuine emotional issues in noisy situations, so I saw that there was a gap in the market for a natural solution which didn’t involve medication. With our company, MusicforPets, people can just press play.”
MusicforPets has been embraced by pet owners all over the world, and Ahmed is clearly delighted with the uptake, but mostly with the number of anxious pets they are helping. “Last year our content helped over 20 million pets, and the growth is sustainable. Our business is self-funded, 100% owned and very profitable. We are a team of 12 based in Manchester, San Salvador and Delhi. The US is 60% of our market and we are growing quickly in South and Central America and Asia. We have press coverage in Bolivia, Columbia, Brazil, India and even Saudi Arabia. We are experiencing growth globally as the content is now being used by dog walkers, sitters, vets and hospitals.” The team is now working on creating B2B partnerships with companies in the pet sector.
Having learned some painful but valuable lessons from the failure of his previous startup Rormix, Ahmed made a decision to stop relying on external advisors and pledged to follow his instinct, and data, instead. He hired a Buddhist life coach who helped him find his mission, and judging by the passion in his voice, the coaching was successful. “I am on a mission for every cat and dog in the world to use our content. RelaxMyDog and RelaxMyCat will be household names.”
With the well documented societal trend of millennials, in particular, opting to adopt “fur babies” over having children, the market is expanding rapidly, he continues. “In the Middle East and South Asia views towards pet ownership are changing very quickly, and we are seeing a lot of growth in traffic from those regions.”
Their revenue models are based on ad sales, streaming royalties and subscription, but it is the latter which sits at the heart of their future strategy for dramatic growth. With global demographic shifts adding significant wind in their sails, Ahmed and Henriquez have real momentum on their mission to make the world’s pets happier, one song at a time.
Originally published in Forbes.
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