Susie Wuollett, president of ProtÃ©gÃ© Biomedical, LLC, discusses how the company is stepping up to meet the growing demand for pet first-aid products.
Pet Business: Tell us about Protégé Biomedical and its products. What distinguishes it amoung its competitors?
Susie Wuollett: Protégé Biomedical is a company that was started by my husband and me when we were in business school. We were both pursuing our MBAs and developed an idea for a hemostatic powder that can stop bleeding in minor scrapes.
Our product was developed for humans, and we’re pursuing FDA clearance. We launched for animals first, in the fall of 2013. We were primarily focused on vet clinics in the Midwest. After receiving fantastic feedback from the vets who used ClotIt on everything from nail clipping to minor surgery, we launched mass-market at Global Pet Expo in March.
Our main competition in the animal market is the styptic powders on the market, primarily KwikStop. KwikStop and other styptic powders work as a vasoconstrictor to slow the bleeding to the area. Our product has a vasoconstrictor, but it also has a clotting-factor activator and rapid absorption that work together to not only slow the bleeding, but absorb the liquid, and also facilitate the coagulation cascade to aid in the animal’s own clotting abilities.
The main thing that separates us from the competition is that our product works to completely stop the bleeding and form a clot, it works nearly three times faster than the leading competition, and it is a colorless powder that does not stain your fingers or your pet. We’ve also heard a lot of feedback that it seems to sting far less than the competitor products, and most animals don’t react at all when it is applied.
PB: How is the market for healthcare products like ClotIt and first-aid kits? Is it growing, declining or flat? What is driving this performance?
Wuollett: Pet owners are becoming increasingly sympathetic to the needs of their pets, and they are humanizing them more than ever, treating them like members of their family. An increasing awareness in healthcare for pets is also contributing to the growth in overall animal care. Products like ClotIt and the ClotIt first-aid kits are nice to have on hand in case of an emergency. Plus, with a product like ClotIt, it’s not just for nail clipping and minor injuries where old remedies like flour or corn starch may work to absorb enough blood and stop the bleeding; ClotIt can be used when there is a life-threatening injury as well. My husband [the CEO of Protégé Biomedical] likes to say that ClotIt is like a fire extinguisher, you never want to have to use it, but when you do, you’re really glad you had it on hand.
PB: Why are independent pet specialty retailers particularly suited for selling healthcare products like ClotIt and first-aid kits? How can it give small pet stores a competitive edge?
Wuollett: ClotIt is brand new, and we’re not in any of the big-box retailers yet. In fact, we haven’t even begun talking with the big guys yet. You can only find ClotIt online or in small retailers. Right now, smaller retailers have the competitive advantage by offering the latest hemostatic technology—ClotIt and the ClotIt first-aid kits—before they are available in the big-box retailers.
PB: What should retailers look for in the first-aid products they stock in the store? What are of the key features?
Wuollett: We did a lot of research when developing the ClotIt first-aid kit. One of the things we were sure to include in our kit was a slip leash to restrain the dog when administering first-aid, or to tie up a lose dog you may find on a hike, etc. The other items in the kit are sting wipes, antiseptic wipes, gauze and, of course, ClotIt. The other thing that was important to retailers and consumers is that the first-aid kit be made in the USA. ClotIt is 100-percent made in the USA, and 95 percent of the items in our first-aid kit are also made in the USA—the only exception is our scissors. But the 95-percent ratio is still high enough to use the Made in the USA symbol, which consumers look for.
PB: What does the future hold for Protégé Biomedical?
Wuollett: We are currently developing a ClotIt gauze, as well as various other sizes of ClotIt. Right now, you can only buy a one-ounce bottle of the powder, but we’ve had requests for larger sizes for use in industry settings and with larger animals, such as horses and cattle. We’re hoping to release new sizes by the end of the year, and the ClotIt gauze by spring of 2015. In addition, we’re pursuing FDA clearance to bring ClotIt [perhaps under a different brand name] to the human market.