It’s estimated that Americans spent $110B in 2021 on their pets. Given this massive market, there has been very little in terms of innovation and design incorporated into pet products. Typical pet products tend to look sterile and more likely to be found in a hospital than in someone’s home. Fable is a direct-to-consumer pet product brand that prioritizes innovation and aesthetics that fit into the modern era. The company offers a line of versatile pet products including the company’s signature Crate ($395), a modern crate that pets will love that doubles as a side table to fit seamlessly into any decor. Founded by a brother and sister duo in 2018, Fable plans to expand into retail along with expanding its product line.
AlleyWatch Fable Cofounder and CEO Jeremy Canade (ex-Jet) to learn more about the team’s vision for the business, the company’s strategic plans, latest funding round, and much, much more.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
This $9M Series A raise was led by 14W, with participation from Female Founders Fund and Slow Ventures.
Tell us about the product or service that Fable offers.
Fable is a product innovation brand that solves real problems for animals and their human counterparts through thoughtful, functional designs. Leveraging the latest research, we believe that thoughtful design enhances the important moments you share with your animals. Fan-favorite Fable products include the mid-century modern Crate – a multi-functional piece of furniture that doubles as an anxiety-reducing home for dogs and aesthetically-pleasing side table – and The Game – a revolutionary toy designed to also reduce our dogs’ anxiety and keep them stimulated and busy at home.
Fable was launched out of our love for animals, and our view that they are a true extension of the family and deserve high-quality products that enrich their experiences, just like we do. We (myself and Fable’s cofounder and my sister Sophie Bakalar) grew up with dogs and always knew we wanted to be entrepreneurs in the pet space. Living in New York City, we quickly realized how difficult it can be for urban dwellers to care for their pets the way they wanted to due to the unique challenges of small-space living, so we launched Fable and its innovative line of problem-solving products to make lives easier for animal lovers and animals alike. There wasn’t a line of pet products out there that prioritized function, safety, and elevated design equally, so we created one.
How is Fable different?
Fable is all about solving problems and making life with pets easier with products that embrace a minimalist design aesthetic and blend seamlessly with your home. From animal anxiety to boredom and indigestion – not to mention the common struggle of trying to multitask while walking our dogs – Fable taps into the unique everyday struggles that humans face with their animals, and designs innovative solutions to these pain points. We are reinventing the pet category by introducing interactive, meant-to-last products that make life with pets more enjoyable and stress-free, as well as multi-functional products like The Crate, which doubles as an anxiety-reducing dog crate and side table that’s perfect for small-space living. Additionally, unlike other brands in this category, Fable believes our animals are family and we reject the concept of ownership. Our pets are our companions and it’s important we create high-quality, humane products that reflect this point of view.
What market does Fable target and how big is it?
We are targeting the U.S. pet products (non-food) market ($23bn) to start, but plan to expand globally in the future.
What’s your business model?
Fable is direct-to-consumer and we are expanding our retail presence in the coming months.
What are your post-COVID office plans??
We are still working mostly remotely, but trying to get together as a team 1-2 days per week. We’re providing a stipend to our team members for the remaining days so they can make their own decisions about where/how to work comfortably and efficiently (e.g., they can use that stipend to upgrade their home office situation or work in a coworking space)
What was the funding process like?
We took our time here. A lot of consumer brands fall into the trap of raising way too much too early and scaling without strong fundamentals (because the capital forces them to grow too quickly and just pay to acquire customers). We raised a small seed round and used that to hone in on what really works for our business and figure out what our customers want and where there’s a gap in the market. Now that we’ve proven product-market fit, we were able to raise additional capital with a strong foundation.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
We ended up raising capital slightly sooner than projected, given the surge in demand we saw in Fall 2021. Originally, we didn’t plan to raise until post-holiday, which would have led to a higher valuation in the immediate term, but you have to be opportunistic in this environment and stay focused on the long term! We didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity to start investing in marketing and expanding our product catalog as soon as possible.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
Actual product IP, focus on problem-solving, strong customer acquisition metrics, solid fundamentals (especially for a company at our stage), founders’ backgrounds in startups, e-commerce, venture, corporate strategy, and B/D. And our unique take on brand/marketing coming this year.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
We plan to expand into retail, grow the team significantly, announce a couple of key partnerships, build out our social presence and community, launch new colors of our existing products, and launch a new product (that would be later in the year).
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
In the foreseeable future, Fable is looking forward to driving innovation in the pet space – addressing common pain points that animals and their humans face and developing new products that make life with pets easier for everyone. We are also excited to expand our retail presence and introduce experience-first storefronts.
What’s your favorite outdoor dining restaurant in NYC?
I’ve loved the garden at Hudson Clearwater since it served as a post-work hangout during my time at Jet. I also love that the Standard Grill lets me bring my dog Ranger inside (especially helpful during the cold months!).