Meet the Founders: Pop HealthTech

It can be challenging to ensure the well-being of beloved pets, and it’s heartbreaking to witness their decline without knowing what to do.

Shockingly, statistics reveal a troubling reality: 60% of canine companions are battling obesity, while a staggering 42% face premature death due to cancer and 25% leave their food uneaten. At the core of these alarming trends lies chronic inflammation, a silent but formidable adversary that necessitates tailored solutions for each unique animal.

On the one hand, there are so many options in food and supplements. On the other hand, pet owners often lack knowledge and understanding about what their pet may specifically need because a one-size diet does not fit all animals. Like humans, every animal has a unique biochemistry, metabolic genetics, and microbiota.

In the end, pet owners simply want to extend their pets' healthspan and lifespan but don’t always have the tools and information to make this a reality.

Meet Alan Tsui, Lauren Bonds, and Gigi Ng, founders of POP Healthtech, together they want to equip the next generation of pet owners with personalised data, products, and services to enable them — starting with nutrition. One of the 12 ventures participating in the Sprout Accelerator Autumn24 Cohort, this team is full of grit and determination to make their vision a reality. 

No stranger to entrepreneurship, Alan Tsui started his career co-founding a data analytics start-up that was eventually acquired by Asia Miles, a wholly-owned subsidiary and loyalty division of Cathay Pacific Airways. Since then, he has worked in leadership positions in MNCs like Cathay Pacific Airways, Marriott International, and Hong Kong Telecom, growing his business experience and marketing expertise. This venture idea grew organically while on a sabbatical in New Zealand. 

However, he knew he couldn’t do it alone. Alan reached out to past colleagues and team members with the skills he knew they would need for success. 

Lauren Bonds is a highly experienced brand and marketing executive based in Houston. She and Alan worked together at Marriott as part of the core team that led the launch of Marriott Bonvoy, a loyalty program with over 30 million members in Asia Pacific.

Gigi Ng, who oversees the development of the ecommerce platform and app, was part of Alan’s leadership at Hong Kong Telecom as Vice President of Digital Products and Growth.

A core part of the team includes Massey University as a research partner. The Food Pilot, overseen by Nikki Middleditch and Associate Professor in Companion Animal Science Dr David Thomas, is helping with product research, formulation and testing.

While still in the early stages, they are also building a mobile app that will enable pet owners to connect their pet trackers with their blood tests and information from their vet. From there, a personalised Food Topper can be formulated based on the health profile of each individual pet. This Food Topper is a customised formulation of superfoods and nutriceuticals where pet owners would be able to continuously monitor its effectiveness and create a virtuous feedback loop over time.

During the market research phase of this venture, the team was surprised at the market size for pet products and services. "In the USA alone, over 100 million households have dogs, and over 60% are already buying a supplement. With more than 30% of households having incomes over USD 100,000. That is a total addressable market of up to 20 million customers. That's huge. And that's not even counting cats." 

Learning these impressive stats quickly transformed the venture from a lifestyle business to a startup opportunity with tremendous potential. 

The team felt inspired and decided to apply for the Sprout program to accelerate their business and acquire the necessary commercialization skills to tackle a vast market. Getting into the program was a satisfying moment for them, and already they realise they are gaining more than they anticipated.

"In the short time we have been in the programme, our mentor is already challenging us to think longer term. We have been pushed to consider how we are going to develop a research programme to quantify the effectiveness of our products." 

Ultimately, they want pet owners to feel relief thanks to their solution and curation of products and services through partnerships. They want their customers to feel safe and confident with their recommendations and satisfied with the end results.

"We believe in the power of pets to heal humans, and we owe it to our pets to give them the best quality of life. We envision a future where no pet parent sees their pet child suffer and regrets they could have done more."

About Sprout: Sprout Agritech LP is an early-stage investor specialising in transformational technologies that impact how life on Earth is nourished and sustained. Through the Sprout Accelerator, they have helped grow more than 110 early-stage ventures within the agri and food industries, which have collectively gone on to raise over $60m in capital.