How Hownd Was Born

HowndWhen you’re lucky enough to have one of man’s best friends, you want to make sure you can look after your dog as well as possible.

In 2012, Mark Hirschel and Jo Amit, old family friends and both dog lovers, decided to take the lead in creating gentle and natural grooming products for pets, after noticing that grooming sessions often left their beloved dogs’ skin irritated. The duo, who have been working in the pet product industry already, went into business together, and Hownd was born.

The brand was initially launched as Butch & Bess. After it was somewhat established, Mark and Jo pitched the business to television’s famous Dragon’s Den. Although the meeting didn’t result in direct investment, the feedback from the star investors on the products was positive. The owners remain proud that their products are completely cruelty free and contain no oil-stripping chemicals. Every year their factories and suppliers are fully audited, causing them to be one of the only pet product manufacturers in the world with full accreditation.

After pitching to the dragons and completing further market research, the decision was made to rebrand as HOWND, under a new parent company called Power Pet Brands Ltd, which was created with the idea that the company may introduce extension brands for other pets. HOWND started using URICA when it started supplying Pets at Home stores with their products, in the Autumn of 2015.

Pains of Growing Business

“It’s been a very interesting few years, with all kinds of ups and downs, and inevitable growing pains,” says Hirschel. “We kept all of our formulas but had to plug extra money into the business to rebrand and remarket – it was a very capital intensive time but it has put us in a stronger position.”

Hirschel found out about URICA supply chain funding through a conversation. Initially, he explored using another product in order to get early payment on their invoices, but it turned out to be too difficult to work with that offering as a start-up business.

“Because of their prerequisites, it was going to be quite expensive. They needed to know that the company had a minimum amount of turnover, and the rates that they were proposing for us to use their product were exceptionally high – almost double what URICA’s rates are.”

“We found it wasn’t the easiest thing for us. They don’t work like URICA, in that they asked us to put every single invoice through them. There wasn’t that flexibility available that you need when you’re trying to balance cash flow.”

Great Working Relationship

“With URICA, it’s been a very good working relationship – it’s more favourable for businesses, and I would highly recommend them to anyone else who requires them. We can adjust every invoice according to how strong or weak our cash flow is. And URICA releases 100% of the cash in the invoice. Other products are more like a credit line – they try to gauge how much you would put through and put a credit facility in place that you could draw against. That can be a little bit too expensive and complicated. I look for something more immediate and flexible – and for that URICA’s been good.”

“With URICA, it’s been a very good working relationship – it’s more favourable for businesses, and I would highly recommend them to anyone else who requires them…”

“Everything with URICA feels almost immediate. Within 24 hours the person I need to speak to is available. As a small business, it’s been very nice to work with URICA, there’s always a person there on other end of phone or email. We’re valued and don’t feel like a very small part of what they do.”

“…It makes sense, feels right, and I don’t feel bad spending the money on such a good service for the business…”

“The one thing that URICA is not, is complicated – that’s for sure. It’s an easy, flexible system which just makes sense. For the fee that I’m paying, which is such a small percentage of the invoice value, it makes sense, feels right, and I don’t feel bad spending the money on such a good service for the business. It’s all about cash flow for us.”

“Some of our customers have payment terms of 75 days which is quite long, so with URICA we know we can bring the cash in early to help bridge any cash flow gaps if required.”

Additional Cash Enables to Invest to Other Business Areas

“For us, there’s always a purpose for the money we take in early. URICA eases our monthly burdens, and we can reinvest back into the business, with design, marketing, and paying suppliers. URICA allows us to take part in trade shows, and get more involved in sales activities. And the really great thing is that if at any point we don’t require early settlement then we have the option of getting paid using our customer’s normal terms.”Hownd

Future Growth Plans

“Right now, we’re looking for investment and thinking about new product development. It’s exciting times for us. We expect our business to change and grow a lot over the next 6 to 12 months, and any conversation we have with potential investors, we let them know that we are using URICA. If we get large international customers on board, we will want to use URICA for them. People want to know that the money comes in quickly after shipping.”

“Sometimes we are expected to pay our suppliers on 45 days, while our customers pay on 75 days. When we were starting up, we couldn’t afford that 30-day cash flow gap, and we wanted to do right by our suppliers.”

“URICA helped immensely with us in keeping our suppliers happy, and keeping profit in the business. As we grow, and get exporting deals, we might even want to have a conversation with URICA about making and not just receiving payments over URICA.”

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