Giannini's passion for pet health began in 2003 when he launched his first company, Dogswell. The brand is now carried by Petco, PetSmart, Target and Safeway.
But Giannini and his wife took it a step further. They noticed that major pet food retailers categorized their products by brand rather than food type—the opposite of how humans shop for groceries. Protein for Pets, or P4P, aims to update that system. "When one goes to the grocery store, they don't shop the Nestle aisle or the PG aisle. They shop based on their needs and that of their family. Why should pet stores be any different?" asked Giannini.
P4P shelves its inventory by protein type, like poultry, meat and fish, as well as exotic foods. It carries 1,200 SKUs of premium dry, raw and wet foods. "None of our foods have corn, wheat, soy or animal by-product," he said.
The start-up also has a private label raw food in the works. The Gianninis told CNBC it is comparable in price to dry food, and "a whole heck of a lot better for your pet."
P4P prices its dry foods at less than $1 per pound, and up to $3.50 per pound for premium products. Large retailers typically charge at least $2 per pound. The start-up's upcoming raw food label will cost $3 a pound.