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For the love of canines

Ms Pereira preparing a batch of food. PHOTO: RACHEL PEREIRA AND SANDEE GOH
Ms Pereira preparing a batch of food. PHOTO: RACHEL PEREIRA AND SANDEE GOH
Rachel Pereira (left) and Sandee Goh (right) with their dogs Lucy and Clash. PHOTO: RACHEL PEREIRA AND SANDEE GOH
Rachel Pereira (left) and Sandee Goh (right) with their dogs Lucy and Clash. PHOTO: RACHEL PEREIRA AND SANDEE GOH

Millennials are putting their stamp on the world, making real their aspirations in ways that previous generations might never have thought of. Our series delves into how young people take bold steps to achieve their life goals in Big Plans Take Time. Dewi Sriwahyuto speaks to Rachel Pereira and Sandee Goh, our 10th profile, who invested their life savings to produce better food for dogs.

Kibble me not

Most people have a soft spot for animals, but besties Rachel Pereira and Sandee Goh, both 30, transformed that love into a business. The pair launched The Grateful Dog online just four months ago, offering nutritious meals for man’s best, four-legged friends.

Ms Pereira, who has a three-year-old Boston terrier named Lucy, said: “We want to give them the diet we think they deserve, using fresh and raw ingredients.” 

They felt that “mass-market kibble”, though convenient, lacked digestive enzymes present in fresh food.

“Just imagine having instant noodles every day. That’s what you’re feeding your dog if you only feed it with dry food,” said Ms Goh, the proud owner of six-year-old beagle, Clash.

Accidental entrepreneurs

Ms Pereira and Ms Goh, both with 11 years of marketing experience, initially had not planned on leaving their careers.

But one day, they discovered a shared frustration: they wanted more nutritious options for their furkids, but could not find anything on the market.

So they decided to take matters into their own hands, cooking in their kitchens till the wee hours, testing the food on their dogs, and monitoring the effects before taking the leap to start the business. Soon, they started receiving orders through word of mouth.


A beef and sweet potato flavoured packet of food. PHOTO: THE GRATEFUL DOG

Today, they maintain a space at Changi Road, where a crew cooks and prepares veterinary-reviewed meals with an organic supplement blend in the AVA-certified kitchen. The duo personally delivers the orders as they love to interact with dogs and note improvements in their health.

Smart savers

With a start-up capital of $64,000, they took the plunge, despite having zero business literacy and entrepreneurial experience.

“If not for our savings, we wouldn’t have been able to do this,” Ms Goh said.

Being prudent with their finances helped to keep them grounded. Ms Pereira said: “When I was a student, I constantly worried about not having enough money and started saving out of fear. And when I entered the workforce, it became a habit. Starting small, no matter how much, will count for something in the future.”


INFOGRAPHIC: SPH CONTENT LAB

Ms Goh said: “I don’t own a single credit card because it’s easy to lose track of my expenditure. I also cut back on self-indulgence like holidays.”

Being good savers allowed them to make a mid-career switch without much financial burden. To this day, Ms Goh saves up to 30 per cent of her pay. “People often think that if you earn more, you’ll have more. But the danger lies in the spending,” she said.

To give is to receive

As the duo continues to grow the business in Singapore and hopefully expand it overseas, they also want to play a part in improving the welfare of dogs here.

The Grateful Dog is a partner of animal welfare group Causes for Animals (Singapore), to which it donates 10 per cent of its profits. Ms Goh said: “We know it is difficult for dog lovers to find time to help other dogs in Singapore. So we have come up with the initiative, ‘The Grateful Give Back’ as a way for us, and other dog lovers, to help furkids in need, apart from caring for our own.”