CEO and Founder Stephanie Boone had the chance to share the Wondercide story on Pets & Their People radio show, part of 920AM The Jersey. PAWSome host George Parente, who owns Dogs & Cats Rule stores in New Jersey where Wondercide is sold, asked about everything from mothballs to DETOX to Shark Tank. You can listen here or read the transcript!
Pets & Their People Interviews Founder Stephanie Boone[audio mp3="https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0275/8072/7380/files/petsandpeople_wondercide-1.mp3">[/audio]
Host George Parente: Welcome back to Pets & Their People. I'm your host George Parente, along with Dylan Our first guest today, Dylan, we’re going out to Austin Texas.
George: Wow. Yep. Far, far away. Her name is Stephanie Boone, and she’s the CEO of Wondercide. Now, if you’re wondering what Wondercide is –
Dylan: I see what you did there. [Chuckle.]
George: [Chuckle.] You did, huh? You don’t have to laugh at my jokes. But, if you wonder what Wondercide is, it’s a phenomenon actually. It’s a wonderful product, and we carry it at the Dogs and Cats Rule stores. And it’s pretty good – it’s very good – for a lot of different things, actually. So, Stephanie Boone, welcome to the program today.
Stephanie Boone: Thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to talk with you guys.
George: Well, like I said, we carry your product at our Dogs and Cats Rule stores, and we recommend it for many things, but tell us the history of Wondercide. Where did it come from? What is it? And, is it true it’s good for sore throats? [Chuckle.] No, no, but it’s good for a lot of things! So, tell us about it. Stephanie: You know, so sore throats may be the only pet category we haven’t launched products into yet. But, you know, Wondercide was founded I guess about eight years ago now when my dog Luna became very ill from flea & tick spot drops
George:Yeah, okay, sure.
Stephanie: And, yeah. So, you know the drops that you put on the back of the neck. And, it started out we were seeing hot spots and skin irritations, and then it sort of accelerated to seizures. And then, we found that she was having liver and kidney failure.
And so, being research-minded, I did a lot of research, and I learned about the ingredients in those products, and it really rocked my world. I couldn’t believe, with the types of potential side effects that were listed, that we are suggesting that owners of millions of dogs and cats – that this is the best way to protect them from fleas and ticks.
And at the same time, my grandmother was very ill. She gave me her cedar chest, and I was literally sitting on the cedar chest watching Luna suffer, and I had this “ah-ha!” moment, where I said, “There has to be a better way.
There has to be a better way.” And, I realized that cedar had been used for centuries to protect things, from valuables to, you know, even pharaohs, so I knew that there had to be a better way.
So, I set out at that time, and I didn’t have a plan. I wasn’t from the pet industry; I didn’t know anything about formulating products – certainly natural products. And so, from there, I did my research on ingredients and basically cleaned out my garage and put up a bunch of shelves, started mixing things and tinctures and putting them in little bottles and passing them out. I was living down in the Gulf coast at the time, so it’s a very buggy area, and I passed them around.
And then, I found the formulations that worked the best, and those were what we took to the efficacy labs to have that support in data to say, “Yes, this works.” And so, you know, the product that we formulated protects pets: dogs, cats – and humans – as well as their homes. So, today we have a full line of flea and tick control that also repels mosquitoes, as well as killing and controlling things like ants and roaches and non-beneficial insects. So, that’s kind of the founding story.
George: So, is the main ingredient basically based off of cedar?
Stephanie: Yes, it is.
George: Oh, okay.
Stephanie: It’s cedar oil. So, we found a way to, you know, we partnered with an extraction facility. So, down here in the south, cedar trees sort of take over, and they’re considered a nuisance in that they absorb a tremendous amount of ground water. And so, people are constantly clearing their land of cedar trees. And so we said, “Hey, this is a way to turn a liability into an asset,” really. And so, it’s a fully sustainable process. And when the land is cleared of cedar trees –
Stephanie: Then it gets ground down, and it goes through a steam distillation process and then a refraction process, and then that’s the oil that we use in formulating our product.
George: Well, like you said, grandmother’s cedar chest. I mean, cedar always reminds everybody of grandmothers and old time things, and you know, mothballs and stuff like that I guess.
Stephanie: Right, and sometimes we get the occasional customer review that says “Oh, now my house smells like a hamster cage.” [Chuckle.]
Stephanie: [Chuckle.] Which I don’t think is necessarily a compliment, but we have worked on our fragrance formulations, and in the last year, we actually launched our new and improved line with formulations with cedar, as well as lemongrass, rosemary, and this fall we even have a peppermint line coming out.
George: Oh, wow. That’s very exciting. So how many SKUs are there now? How many different remedies can you attack – or different things can you attack with these different products?
Stephanie: So, we have a flea and tick line for pets, we have a home and lawn line for pet-people or non-pet-people. We have a shampoo bar line that’s amazing. It’s made from coconut oil and neem, and it’s something that consumers really love. We have a skin tonic line that’s great for hot spots and bites and burns and rashes and those kinds of things. We have an ear care line that is both for ear wash and ear treatment, so whether it is a bacterial infection or a yeast infection or something like that, you just don’t have to resort to chemicals to remedy these things in a safe and effective way.
And also, in the last couple of years, we also have developed a supplement line. So, most of our supplements currently are focused on immune health. We have product called DETOX that’s made from bentonite clay. We have an eggshell membrane hip and joint product. You know, I think for us, what kind of separates us from the other natural products, or even just products in the marketplace, is that most of the things that you see on the shelf or online are largely what I refer to as “me too” products. So that means that they’re largely manufactured in the same place, and it’s an existing formulation that a lot of brands just white label or private label.
And so, the difference with Wondercide is that everything that we do is innovative. You know, we research these ingredients and we have innovative technology and proprietary formulations that are truly different from everything else that’s available to pet parents.
George: Now, a lot of these products are crossovers. They can be pet or human, correct?
Stephanie: Correct. You know, they can, and it gets really tricky for us because we are in a regulated industry. So, our products fall under EPA registration or regulation, as well as FDA. And then, for FDA, it’s for humans and animals. And so, it gets tricky because they’re natural ingredients that are organic and pure and human-grade, and so they can safely and effectively be used for both pets and people. Although, it gets challenging from a marketing perspective to be able to educate people or help them understand that just because of the way that the government is kind of structured in these areas.
George: Yeah, and classifies the product. Now, the product I’m really curious about, and you talked about it already, is the DETOX product. I have customers and I think employees who take that themselves.
George: Was that originally designed as a pet product or a human product?
Stephanie: You know, it was originally a human product. And actually, when I was about to film for Shark Tank, I was about three or four months pregnant, and I had morning sickness. And a friend of mine told me about it, and so I mixed some up and started trying it, and I never had morning sickness again. And then, I really started learning about the benefits of using bentonite clay for all sorts of things, and that’s when we decided to develop that and market it for dogs and cats.
Stephanie: But it can be used for a lot. I mean, we have a lot of customers that are using it for digestive health, when dogs have an occasional case of diarrhea or vomiting they administer the product, and it just completely stops it in its tracks. So, it can be used for a lot of things, even when people have, you know, when the flu is going around. When you have any sort of vomiting or diarrhea or gastrointestinal issues, taking this kind of stops it in its tracks.
George: Well, basically it detoxes your body, and I guess removes all the bad stuff.
Stephanie: Correct. That’s a very simple way to put it.
George: Well, I’m kind of simple that way. [Chuckles.]
Stephanie: No, I love it. That’s awesome.
George: Anyway, and you brought me to another question I had. You were on Shark Tank, and you know, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that episode, but were you successful? Did you get a Shark, or what happened there?
Stephanie: We did. You know, it was an amazing experience because our mission is to protect pets and people from harsh chemicals and to help them live longer. And so, it gave us a platform to reach millions of people that we otherwise wouldn’t have that opportunity to. So, it was a really amazing experience. The Sharks were great. You know, they were actually really nice, very complimentary. We were in there for several hours. And so, a lot of people don't know that, but there’s no stopping and starting. They say go and they never cut. So, we were standing there, sort of getting railed by the Sharks for hours.
George: And you’re four months pregnant. Standing there can’t be too fun. [Chuckles.]
Stephanie: Right, but you know, I love business, and I intimately know every aspect of our business, so it felt like four minutes to me, not four hours. So, I loved it. It was great. I loved that we had answers to every question they asked, which was amazing. You know, we were offered a deal and accepted it on TV, that we didn’t move forward with that deal after the show, which, you know, a lot of people don’t understand, and we can’t talk too much about it. But, we actually went in asking for $500,000 for 5% of the company.
Stephanie: And we were offered a deal from Lori for $500,000 for 3%, and I think there was a 50-cent per unit until the $500,000 was paid back. So, you know, it increased our valuation significantly. And actually, in return, to date, we were the largest valuation of any female-founded and owned company in the history of Shark Tank.
George: Wow. Well, congratulations.
George: I was going to say you didn’t get involved with Kevin O’Leary. He’s a character I’ll bet. Is he as tough, is he as negative, as he comes across on TV?
Stephanie: You know, he was but not so much with us because again, he’s a savvy business guy, and I love business. And, we were able to answer all of the questions. So, you know, not to toot my own horn, but he seemed pretty complimentary to us.
Stephanie: So, he wasn’t as tough.
George: Yeah. Because some days he gets – you watch some of the shows, and he gets pretty rough with those people. You know? And I know a lot of it is shtick, and you know, they like to beat up on them. But I heard that. That it’s a long process and they whittle it down to seven or eight minutes. It’s edited a lot out. And I heard you can be there for hours. But –
Stephanie: Yeah, you can be. And then by the time we aired, my daughter was four months old. So that kind of tells you how long the process is. [Chuckles].
George: Yeah. It goes to a year almost until they process it through. Well, Wondercide definitely is an interesting product. I mean, we have it in our stores, like I said. We buy it through a pet distributor out of Maryland.
George: It’s doing well, and anybody you offer it to or even – there’s a lot of buzz out there in the social media world. So, anybody who comes in for it, they’re passionate for it. So is there anything in the future? Are you just going to continue to develop some lines? I mean obviously, you have a lot of product out there. I don’t know how much more you can put on your plate. So, what’s going on in the future?
Stephanie: Sure, well, first of all, thank you for your kind words in regard to the brand and the products. And just the customers’ confidence in using these products to safely remedy “whatever ails ya.” But, as far as what we have next. You know, we do have, as I mentioned, peppermint is coming down the pipeline. We are working with a non-profit here in Texas called Restoration Ranch that is an amazing organization that rescues horses and supports veterans. And so, it helps the veterans to take care of the horses, the land, and each other. And so, we’ve been working with them to develop an equine line, where a percentage of every sale will go back to supporting the rescue horses and veterans. So, that is coming down the pipeline. And one other project that I’m really excited about is we are putting together a new website that is very consumer-focused and experiential in that when people have a problem, they aren’t really sure what solutions or what they need to solve the problem. And so, we are putting together a customized treatment plan so, you know, one example could be that if a customer comes to the website and say “Hey, I have fleas.” Then, we would ask them a series of quick questions where they would tell us the type of pet, the size of their home and lawn, and then we would give them a customized treatment plan that would show them how much they need to solve their specific problem. And, you know, it’s really exciting because we’re also going to be able to address the types of issues across pet health like itchy skin and ear problems and immune health. And so, that is one of the biggest things that we’re really excited about. And we’re not really seeing others in the industry doing that.
George: Well, obviously you’re trying to develop yourself as the source for all kinds of ailment relief. And obviously, we deal with consumers every day. And that’s our business – they do need help. They do come in with a lot of questions. And, of course, you’ve got to figure out a way to explain it to them. Or, like you said, they need information and research. And a lot of people just aren’t that savvy to do it on their own sometimes.
Stephanie: Absolutely. And, you know, I think the thing that’s most grounding for me is, you know, I am that person. I was that person, and I am that person. I am that consumer that trusted the advice I had been given, you know, from whatever source, and just asking the tough questions and wondering if there was a better way to do it. And it’s really become our mission and my life’s work to do some of that work for others so that they can have safe and effective solutions without having to spend [chuckles,] you know, hours and years to solve it in a way that they’re comfortable with. And, supporting the health and wellness of their pets for as long as they can.
George: Well, it’s obviously a very important subject, and we get people, like I said, every day, looking for help. So before we go, Stephanie, give us the Wondercide website currently? I assume the new one is not ready to go yet.
Stephanie: Well, it’ll be linked through so it won’t be a different URL. But, you can find us at wondercide.com. You can also find us on Amazon and at independent retailers nationwide, including Dogs and Cats Rule.
George: Well, we appreciate that. And we appreciate your products. Like I said, very exciting. Stephanie, thanks for coming on today.
Stephanie: Thanks, George. I appreciate your time.
George: All right. No problem. We’ve been speaking to Stephanie Boone, who’s the CEO and founder, obviously, of Wondercide products. A fascinating story, and boy her world has changed in the last eight or ten years. So, you never know what’s out there. But, that’s some of the great things that happen sometimes with these little mom and pop start-ups.
••• Thank you again to George and the team at Pets & Their People. We enjoyed discussing natural pet care with you and love keeping up with your show!