Episode 23: Pedro Mejia – My Zone Blue

Pedro Mejia

My Zone Blue is a Boston-based startup dedicated to the design, production, and commercialization of premium raw pet food products scientifically proven to improve the health of domestic dogs and cats.

Their specific macronutrient (carbohydrates, fats, and protein) composition has demonstrated to prevent chronic diseases and extend the lifespan of pets by mimicking their ancestral eating behavior. They use only raw, fresh, wholesome, human-grade, non-GMO ingredients from Mid-west farms and humanely raised pasture-free/cage-free animals.

 

Learn more about My Zone Blue:

Visit their website at https://myzoneblue.com/

 

Follow My Zone Blue on social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/myzonebluehttps://www.facebook.com/myzoneblue

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/myzoneblue

Twitter: https://twitter.com/myzoneblue

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/my-zone-blue-pet-food-914004204


Hi, I’m Pedro Mejia and you’re tuned in Animal Innovations Show.

Narrator:

You’re tuned in to the Animal Innovations Show, where we feature people, products, services, and ideas that are helping animals and the people who care for them, live better lives.  If it’s innovative, and it helps animals, you can find it here first.  So, get ready, here comes this week’s newest innovation for animals.

 

Excellent job Pedro. So welcome. Thanks for coming. So tell us who you are and how you’re innovating and helping animals. Yes. As I said, my name is Pedro and together with my wife, Monica, I started, we started our own pet food company. Like two years ago, we launched our products only a year ago. Obviously all healthy natural stuff, but also a lot of science. Nice. Now, what’s the name of the pepper? Yeah. Our, our brand is my son Blue. You might have those blue zones around the world actually, they’re like, there are five blue songs around the world where people live healthy lifestyles and, and they have a there’s a concentration of centenarians there and they have people have studied those populations and they know now that is because they have good nutrition, exercise social relationships. So that’s where the name came. And we said, okay, why not? Your dog or your cat can have this same blue zone, right, if we created with good nutrition and care and exercise. Yeah, I love that. I was going to ask you where the name came from and that there’s actually bought, right that went into this as to what you’re trying to represent with your brand. Yeah, exactly. It’s it’s amazing because then when when people have studied these zones is there’s no huge secret other than eating well, good nutrition and and having friends and and moving around. And again, I think our pets, they have a lot of, a lot of it especially love and exercise. Maybe exercise, they need a little bit more sometimes. But nutrition, I think that’s that’s the main, the main key and the problem for for many bets. And that’s where we’re trying to help people owners. And that’s obviously so I gotta ask you, I mean, why did you decide to make a pet food of all the things that you could do right? Like how did this, how did this idea come to? What really inspired you to want to do this? So there were several things going on at the same time, like things got together. But first we have this dis cat with my wife, she was kidney, kidney disease and many other health problems. And we realized it was really difficult to find a healthy food for her. We look around and nothing was really healthy. We can, we had some knowledge because we’re both scientists originally. And so we were saying, well, this is this is really hard. It shouldn’t be this hard. Second thing is that my wife, she started a better company eight years ago. She’s been working with dogs and cats around boston. And also in that small group of bed we notice a huge amount of chronic diseases, same kidney disease, liver disease, allergies, gi problems. And we said, this must be related to food. It can be that there’s there’s so such a high incidence of of problems in this very small small group of animals. And the third factor was that, as I said before, we’re both scientists originally and I was working in my lab in my research was based on on nutrition and the link between nutrition and inflammation. So all those things together, we said, okay, maybe here there’s something that we can do apply our knowledge and and help help the bets, uh, what do we know now? I’m guessing? I mean, you talked about inflammation and that was something that you studied and and I’ve heard this before, but I gotta be honest, I don’t know a lot about it. I mean, when I think of inflammation, I think of, you know, inflammation and your joints or your muscle or something because more of an injury. But this is more of a is it more of a chronic condition based upon the nutrition intake? Exactly. Yeah, inflammation can be caused by seven multiple factors. One of it can be the food that you eat right, especially with dogs and cats if they eat the same food every day in and out, there’s this chronic inflammation that forms which in the long term can damage your your organs that together with oxidants, oxidative stress oxidation, that’s also induced by diseases aging, but also by food. Again, in the long term, you can have it can have a very damaging results on organs. And again, it’s all linked to the nutrition. And there are many ways that you can intervene and and help and reduce that chronic inflammation. Yeah. So you were studying this, you realized, like you said that for your cat, that I’m guessing you’re somebody that reads the labels right, is looking at, you know, the analysis and the things like that. The stuff that I look at my eyes just kind of glaze over because I don’t know what to make of it. So you decided that hey, like this doesn’t exist. And I’m guessing that they probably need this for dogs as well. And so then you decided to embark and start your own mind. Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. We started our own formulations. It’s not exist. We realize how difficult it is to understand a label and how people can be confused or even misled by those, those brands and those, sorry, those those labels that there are. Yeah, I feel like they are not made for people. They’re made almost like to confuse people. But yeah, the funny thing is that if you make this formulation like ours with just human, great normal food, then people understand ingredients and if you see pork liver punking those kinds of ingredients, carrots, people know what that is. And and I feel that’s the way it should be just natural stuff. Right?

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Yeah. Now obviously have never made dog food or cat food for my animals before. So you decided that you’re going to do this? I mean where do you begin? I mean you are a scientist not a not a dog food maker. So how did you go about doing this? Well, the first thing is to look for for regulations. Right. What what am I suppose or what am I allowed to to include in in in dog food or cat food? And the first thing I mean it’s good for a business but bad for our bets is that it’s really loses really like not very well controlled what you can you can use and you can include. There are a few substances that obviously are toxic and are are illegal to include. But other than that he’s pretty loose. The regulation which shot us at the very beginning then there are there are some requirements in terms of nutrients. So you have a certain amount of calcium, a certain amount of vitamin, a certain amount of protein and fat that your food has to have and that’s pretty well established and there’s a scientific based on on that. So it’s not perfect. But so so that’s the base you take those those requirements and you try to to fill those requirements. What I think is nice with our our products is that we try to fill those requirements using only real food again because the for example if you need more, I don’t know. But I mean hey, so okay let’s have some punking and carrots. If you need more calcium, let’s set some ground let’s add some ground bone. For example these kind of things. Whereas a lot of products are made of powders basically can be that have been over processed and that’s that’s the easiest way if if you just start adding powder then and you you meet the requirements and that’s it. Then you you start using chemicals and artificial stuff that obviously it’s not the healthiest way to go. So I picture you and your wife, you know, mad scientists in the kitchen. Right, Let’s throw in some carrots and pumpkin. You know? Is that I mean is that how you guys kind of came up with your formulas? Yeah, more than more than scientists? Well, rather like cooks actually, we’re here because in the background here in the kitchen yeah, mixing stuff once. Because yeah, one thing is to have it on paper and have the numbers and stuff. But but preparing it itself was uh of course was a challenge. But yeah, we came up with with our first formulations, we try with with many dogs, they like it. And then we went the next step which is doing that, you know, in a larger, larger batch. And start yet in a larger scale, trying trying with with customers. So how many, how many different variations formulas batches like I mean you said it took like a year before you got your first product? Yeah, I would say yeah, I would say more than a year between yeah all the formulations and putting everything on paper and then trying doing it ourselves. Yeah, we try a lot of formulations, yeah, a lot of formulations and well dogs are not that hard in terms of they will eat almost almost anything. So they like a lot of a lot of formulations but but that’s not the main thing, the main thing is that is healthy for them. Right, So that was our main concern Qatar more difficult. So they are really picky. So they made us work a little bit more. For sure, interesting. So now when you make my zone blue I’m kind of, what’s the base of it, What really differentiates it from some of these other products out there? So again, there’s a lot a lot of science in that. So so basically it’s all raw freeze dry. So yeah, we are, we know the best way to come to preserve all the nutrients in the ingredients is to keep it raw, not cooked and freeze dried. This technology is amazing. Is the best way to preserve food right now. Is what for example in the army or this what they call survival foods used because it can have a long shelf life and also it really preserves everything. Even the the order, the taste, the smell uh which is important also for dogs and cats. So so yeah, that’s that’s important. And then yeah, as I said before, the fact that we feel all the requirements of nutritional requirements with only real natural food interesting. So now, what types of foods are in there? I mean, I know you mentioned pumpkin, but I mean, what other types of things? I’m not even sure what I can feed my dog honestly. So right now, for example, my Zone Blue Coppers, that’s our, one of our products that’s that people love and and prefer. Uh that’s, as I said, it’s a topic we just added on top of your dogs current food. And that adds a lot of, a lot of vitamins, nutrients, minerals, every a lot of stuff in a small cup. So it’s basically, there’s a lot a lot of veggies, fruit Oregon’s also organs and and and meet our formulations made out of pork. So it’s pork organs, pork, meat, veggies, fruit and yeah, it’s it’s basically a boost for for your dog’s ball, basically, interesting. So now you’ve got toppers out now, do you also have the dog food out to? We are working on that. So basically we have the formulation of complete food for dogs and cats also. We’re in the process of yeah, completing that that production, we should have it ready in the next few months. We also have treats. Obviously healthy treats to those are for dogs and cats. Again, only natural stuff. For example, our our pork liver traits is just that one ingredient pork liver. And then we have lamb and chicken which is on the meat and and heart. Chicken feet and chicken heart. That’s it. So dogs, they go crazy about it and cats, they love it also. And yeah, it’s healthy. I feel like people have this idea of threats like being like okay, extra calories just so so your pet is happy. Which yeah, that’s that’s a good point. But also it can be healthy. It doesn’t need to be like, like our treats right? Like chocolate or pizza or no chocolate ice cream and pizza for my dog. So that’s that’s the idea that you keep all from treat to toppers to complete food. Everything is healthy and good for your dog. So take us back to the point was that you or your wife that ultimately said to the other one? No, we should make our own food. I mean, was it your idea or was it hers? The idea has always been to do our our own food because we realized you can also start a brand buying some recipe and say, okay, now on a package, this, this food and it’s going to be my food, right? So we said, no, we have to do our own thing. But yeah, it was when when when we were looking for for healthy food for for our cat and it was impossible. And then we tried with him. And you said, honey, I think I think we can make a better food. We can do this. Exactly, yeah. And again, together with what we were when I was doing in terms of research that that really came all together and that’s how it took the decision.

Narrator:

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Yeah. I mean tell us a little bit more Pedro. Tell us about your background, your wife’s background. I know you said you’re both scientists and you know you were studying inflammation and the effects it has. But tell us a little bit more about both of your backgrounds. Well we both have a PhD my wife has appeared in in microbiology. She worked for seven years here at M. I. T. That’s how we came here to boston. She was she was higher there and she was doing research there. My ph d s in immunology and I worked both for 10 years. I worked at the Harvard Medical School and also the Harvard School of Public Health. And it was yeah at the School of Public Health where I started these projects on nutrition and inflammation. Which to be honest I didn’t believe in at the at the very beginning I had worked for years with drugs and vaccines and that kind of stuff. And then I arrived to this love with my boss and he tells me okay here we just changed the food and we have results. I said that’s not what I work. What work you wouldn’t believe it but it’s amazing. Yeah. In in terms of inflammation yeah just 3 to 4 days changing the food of animals makes a huge difference in inflammation. So now what have you learned about yourself during this process? It was it was a challenge because yeah, obviously there was a huge change of direction, but he feels useful. The problem with research is that it is such a long term result. Right? And whatever you do, you you might see it someday in 10, 20 years from now. Here we can we can see the difference in days, right? When, when, when pets are happy, they look healthy, they look we’re just talking before about how their coats look shiner. They have more energy with with when they are eating what they should be eaten. So that’s gratifying. That’s that’s like short term motivation also to keep to keep working on that. Yeah. So what’s next for my zone blue? I mean, you said you’ve got the toppers out, you’ve got the traits or you’re close to having the food’s coming out. I mean what does the next 3 to 5 years look like for you guys? So obviously we’re in the this growth stage right now so were pretty well known already around boston and massachusetts and we want to expand to the east coast first and then go to the west coast and the rest of the country. So yeah and also expand our line of products that are so well in terms of complete food for for dogs and also cuts but also different toppers and treats. Now are you guys going to be, I mean you’re targeting retail stores. Can people buy this online? Like kind of what’s the strategy there were working were partnership with a few pet boutique stores here in in the boston area, but in the long term and in order to a national level yahoo, our main goal is to grow in the e commerce and sell through our website. Really cool. So I think this is really neat, just the path that you’ve taken and kind of what it is that you’re trying to do and I mean I’m excited to see where you guys are going to be able to take this. So where can people go learn more about, you know what you guys are doing and obviously hopefully by some of your products. Yeah, all the information is in our website which is my zone blue dot com but a lot of time and effort in our blog, which is I think the education part is very important for all pet owners and we try to give you as much as information as possible so people can take the best decisions for their pets in terms of nutrition. So yeah, our stories, they’re our products, our blog in our website. No I think it’s really cool. I I really like the avenue you’re taking. You’re trying to solve a problem right? And your you know the highest quality ingredients and obviously you’ve got a background and experience in doing this to try and help us help our animals. And so I think that’s really cool what you guys are doing. Thank you. Yeah. Yeah that’s that’s our goal and yeah I think there’s a there’s a huge potential here in terms of not only as a business but also by helping helping pets and improving improving their health. I think obviously people take very good care of their pets but we we are far from the optimal health that they can get. So they’re still yeah, a lot of room for for improvement in terms of health and pet care in general. Yeah. Well paige I’m really glad you came on and it was exciting to talk to you and learn more. Is there anything else you wanted to mention today before we wrap things up? I just want to say thank you chris for these opportunities is being great to chat with you and being able to reach more people and yeah hopefully this can inspire people to to look for information, reliable information and get to know more about bad nutrition and how to improve their best health. Yeah, for sure. And we’ll make sure to put links obviously in our show notes for people to go out to my zone blue dot com and check it out and learn more. And as always I like to remind our viewers and listeners if if you’ve got an idea for a product a service or know somebody I should talk to or interview to have him on the show, just go to www. Innovations that show and let me know because I’d love to talk to them and hear how they’re helping animals. So thank you again page. I really appreciate you coming on. Thank you. Chris

Narrator:

Thanks for joining us for the Animal Innovations Show! If you want to volunteer to help animals, check out www.doobert.com, where you can join tens of thousands of Dooberteers supporting rescues and shelters around the world to help animals. And, if you know of something or someone innovative that’s helping animals, let us know by going to www.innovations.show.

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