Rebecca Rose transitioned from the world of women’s healthcare to focus on improving the health of woman’s best friend! She is a biochemist, product developer and founder of InClover. Under her leadership, InClover set the gold standard for animal studies, utilizing state-of-the-art technology, sound scientific methods and humane practices. As InClover’s product developer, she carefully formulates innovative supplements using evidence-based research and has been named as a Pet Age Woman of Influence and Women in the Pet Industry Woman of the Year. Rebecca grew up in rural Ohio and now lives in Boulder, Colorado where she shares her home with 2 cats, 2 dogs, 3 chickens and 2 horses.
InClover has won the Pet Sustainability Coalition’s Top Impact Award for Supplements the past two years. The company is committed to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. They have employed over 40 specially-abled individuals working over 10,000 hours through a private/public partnership between InClover and Imagine! They further support Imagine!’s mission by serving on their Governing Board of Directors and the Business Advisory Board. They are in the process of applying for B-Corp status.
Learn more about inClover:
inClover website: inclover.com
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Hi, I’m Rebecca Rose, and welcome to the Animal Innovations Show.
You’ve 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 if it helps animals, you can find it here first.
So, get ready. Here comes this week’s newest innovation for animals.
Awesome! I love that introduction. That’s perfect. So, Rebecca, give us a little bit about you and tell us how you’re innovating to help animals?
My background is as a biochemist, and I came to helping animals through the human health care side. I was working with the National Institutes of Health and the Center for Disease Control, figuring out how to make a better human, and decided to take that technology and repurpose it to the animal side of things.
And it was something that I saw as hadn’t been done before and was really needed, and so, I started looking at the physiology of the animal and how we could give back to what they would normally produce in a healthy, perfect environment, how we could give that back to them and supplement their normal system using all of this advanced technology that I had learned through my work in human healthcare.
That’s really fascinating. So, you were doing all this for humans, and you went, “Yeah, I think I’m gonna do this for animals now”.
Yeah, because lots of people were doing it for humans. But when I started looking at the animal side of things, there were lots of animal products out there, but they weren’t actually going to the cause of the problem and providing what that animal would make if it were healthy.
And looking at it in a holistic way just made so much more sense to me than just masking a problem where maybe the animal would get better, but it could be that they would just not know that they were still in pain. You know, it’s just masking that pain, and as such, they might go out and run and play and hurt themselves even worse, where we could look at what made that animal better and provide those, like, in the case of joint disorder, provide building blocks.
So, those things that they would make to make a healthier joint instead of just masking the symptoms of joint pain. That’s how we look at everything as an opportunity to make the animal more healthy, not mask a problem.
That’s really cool. I really love that approach to it because, as you said, you could just be masking. It’s like with aspirin or something, right? You make the pain go away, but the actual underlying cause is still there. So…
What products did you… because, I mean, you guys develop your own products, don’t you?
Yeah, so I’m the founder of our company. The company is called InClover, and we’re based in Boulder, Colorado.
And so, I’m the founder of the company, but probably more importantly, we all wear a lot of different hats. But my most important hat, I feel like is as a product developer.
So, I developed all of the products from the idea of looking at dental health or looking at joint health or digestive health, and then breaking it down and saying, like, in the case of dental health, you could just provide something that’s crunchy.
But in our world, that would be like you saying, “I’m just gonna eat potato chips before I go to bed instead of brushing my teeth?” It would be silly.
Actually, that sounds good to me, but you know…
(both Chris and Rebecca laugh)
Well, okay, bad example. (laughs)
We look at “what’s the cause of poor dental health in animals?”.
Well, it’s the bacterial goo that causes the plaque that turns into tartar in the mouth.
So, what can we do to get rid of the bacteria in the mouth and then stop that problem from occurring versus just giving them something crunchy to eat? So, we look at every problem as an opportunity of how we can go to the root of it and really provide a better solution.
That is really cool. So, tell me, I want to continue on that path that you were just talking about, right, for the plaque. I mean, I’ve got a dog, right? And like a lot of dogs, I mean, we are not committed to brushing his teeth as much as the vet tells us we should. So, no, that’s a problem. I’m not a biochemist, like, where do you begin? How do you then go about this?
Less than one percent of people brush their dog’s and cats’ teeth, so of course, that’s what we all want to do. But no, that’s not something that often fits into our daily routine. So, what we’ve done as a company is made it easy for you and for the 99%—100% of people to want good dental health for their pets. But maybe they can’t brush their pet’s teeth every day, so we have put together—we have two different formats for dental health: for dogs and for cats.
So, the first is a soft chew format, and it’s a nice way to just give them a soft chew. It’s tacky, it sticks to their teeth. It has breath fresheners, and it also has those antibacterials in it. So, that’s a nice way, every day I give my dog and cat a different soft chew for dental health.
The second thing I do every day is—we have a powder product that’s called—so the soft chew is called “Grin” for dogs and “Smile” for cats. Then we have a powder product that we sprinkle over their food, and what that does is—it’s really easy to deliver—but it provides the antibacterials. So, it provides very natural ingredients that stop the bacteria in the mouth.
Then we know that that gooey plaque that forms on the gum line? We get rid of that. You don’t want it to turn into tartar, so we have kelp that we found that’s harvested in the Atlantic Ocean that makes that plaque more porous. So, it’s easier to wash away.
And then we provide enzymes that make like a mouthwash—enzymatic mouthwash—and they just break down those little food particles that are in the mouth. And so, there’s no food for the bacteria to feed on.
And then the last thing we do is, we—We know that our dog and cats, the enamel in the mouth, is thinner than for humans, so we want to mineralize, and we want to build that enamel.
So, I started going to goat farms to figure out how to do it, and I found a goat dairy in Washington state that—it’s actually a large goat dairy, and they have been—This family has been farming it for 85 years. They’ve never had pesticides on their pastures. They don’t use anything that’s not natural. They have a greenhouse on their property, where they’re sprouting barley, and the milk that comes out of those goats has the best minerals and to remineralize the teeth.
And so, we take that milk, and we put it through a very gentle process, and we gently dry it. And then, we take the way from that, and that goes into our bio-brilliant dental powder as well.
And so, all of that combination—very thoughtful, very purposeful—we’ve done all of that research, so all you have to do is just sprinkle a couple of shakes onto their food. It’s not stressful. You don’t have to brush their teeth. It’s very enjoyable for you and for the animal.
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That is really cool. So, I gotta ask, how many years does it take to develop something? Because I’m thinking, I mean, there’s a science behind this, but then, the sourcing sustainability of these different ingredients, you know, and with kelp and goat’s milk, and it’s like, you didn’t just say, “Oh, okay, we’ll take whatever”.
I mean, you really put a lot of thought into this. Is this multiple years to develop one product?
This is the cool thing about having done this the whole time. It’s that in the beginning, yes. In the beginning—so our first product was connected, our joint supplement, and that took us to researching all the veterinary schools and the research centers in the world and figuring out where we could actually test the product to make sure that it worked, because the science was sound, but we just weren’t sure nothing like this had ever been developed before.
And so, that took us to New Zealand, to the leader of veterinary research, to do our research there using cutting-edge force plate technology. So, that took us years to do.
But, fast forward 20 years. So, I’ve been doing this for a time, and it is what I love to do. And so, when I look at a problem, like dental health, I can just see all of the pieces in front of me. And I can see that, how the physiology works, how many days it takes to go from plaque, which is soft and gooey on the teeth, to harden to tartar.
So, I know all the pieces that we need to do so that we slow the process in a very holistic way. So, we want to stop the bacteria, but we also wanna make the plaque more porous, and we want to make an enzymatic mouthwash. You know, I can see all the puzzle pieces coming together.
And so, the thing that takes time is then… I know that I need to use this specific kelp that has been clinically tested to break down plaque. But where can I find that? Only in cold North Atlantic waters.
What just so happens, is that, over the years, I have a good friend. That’s what she does.
Her work has been harvesting this kelp…out of Maine, off the coast of Maine. And I’m thinking, I would like more than anything to work with Susan on this project so that I can just easily tap into my network and know the people who are doing these things themselves and have a passion for animal health and can just put this network together. And that’s what I really enjoy doing.
And so, the new thing, what was—the Goat Dairy?—and now I’m just like, “Wow, I need to figure out another way to work with this goat farmer in Washington because he is amazing.”
And so, you know, just keep building off of that network.
So, now, what product did you start with?
We started with two main products when we started our company InClover. So, the first product was joint health, and I did it in a pragmatic way.
I looked at where’s the major pain point for our dogs and our cats, and the major pain point is that about one in four dogs and cats currently is suffering with some kind of joint issue—arthritis to hip dysplasia to patellar luxation—all of those joint issues can be helped in a similar way.
So, I looked at that problem and then spent years researching how we could solve that problem. At the same time, in my previous life, I had done a lot of research on prebiotics.
So, probiotics are the food for the good bacteria, and I was doing research not only in animals. We were looking at puppies and kittens and senior animals. We were looking at food chain animals as an alternative to antibiotics, and we were looking at human babies and infant formula.
And so all of those things, the common link is prebiotic, and probiotic is food for the native good bacteria. And I knew from the beginning that that was something that people know about probiotics.
Probiotics are the living bacteria, but they don’t understand how prebiotics—the food for the good bacteria that are native in the system—is the more elegant solution.
So, we did years of research with infant formula companies. If you’re a label reader, you’ll see that every infant formula has prebiotic in it because it’s a really good way to build the immune system.
And so, I knew I wanted to develop a product for animals that was at that level, that scientific, the best of, level. And so, the second product we came out with was a digestive supplement for dogs and cats.
Yeah, I was going to ask you. Are most of your products for dogs and cats? Or do you stray into other types of animals, too?
(laughs) We were contacted several years ago by a zoo, and they asked us to work with them on some other types of animals. And since then, we are now in zoos all across the United States, and it’s mostly our Connectin and our Optagest—the joint and digestive health—that the zoos are focused on.
And so, we provide our digestive and our joint health to elephants and lemurs and some animals. They come to a draft—we have drafts for a big customer for us—but they’ll come to us with an animal that I’ve never heard of before. And so, in the office, we’re Googling, you know, these tiny little guys that are taking our digestive product.
So, it’s really cool that we’re able to work across different species. And as you can imagine, with zoos, they like working with companies that have a scientific focus because their animals need to be long-lived. They need to make sure that the science is there, and that it’s not going to, in any way, be a problem for their animals.
Yeah. How many products do you have in development at any given time?
So, we’ve been around for a long time, and we have 40 SKUs—stock-keeping units—so 40 different products. Some of those are different sizes, or we have soft shoes or powders. You know, so easier formats to deliver.
So, 40 different SKUs, and in any given year, I will develop and introduce between one and three products.
So, we’re not the sort of company that’s gonna have 400 products where, you know, some ingredient is shiny, and they throw that, and it’s a new product.
You mean, CBD oil that everybody is talking about these days? (laughs)
Nothing with CBD. (laughs) Yeah, so those are the sorts of things that it would take us a lot of research before we would feel comfortable with something like that. And so, we’re a company that is very thoughtful in how we introduce new products.
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When you were growing up, were you always fascinated by science? And were you the mad scientist? You know, putting things together and seeing what you could make?
I was always good at science. (laughs) It kind of took me into science. But as a kid, I grew up in a very rural area of Ohio, where at our local grocery store, you saw just as much buggy parking as you saw car parking. And still do. It’s right in the middle of Amish country.
And so, I grew up in a really unusual area. You know, I lived on a farm. So, now, in Boulder, Colorado, I have two horses. I have three chickens, two cats, two dogs, and when I grow up, I want to be a farmer. That’s my dream.
That’s really cool. So, now, I don’t even think I asked you. Where did the name “InClover” come from?
(laughs) I had been involved in biotechnology, so I’m a biochemist, and that seemed to be the, you know, the sexy career to go into.
So, I went into biochemistry, biotechnology. And as we’re working on these super-secret projects, we would code name them with something that had a meaning, but maybe a meaning that not very many people would know about.
So, when I started InClover, I was working on it like a project, and I codenamed it “Project in Clover”. “In Clover” is an old English idiom that means to be “at the top of your health”. You’re in clover.
And so, I thought that was kind of clever and on a little bit of a code. And so, when I decided to start the company, I put together on an 8.5 by 11 sheet of paper, I put together, single space, all the different names that I thought would be good for a company, and I sent it over to our attorney.
And he came back to me and said, “I can’t protect any of these names that are below the header.” But the header said “InClover” on it. (laughs) He said, “That’s a perfect name for a company.”
So, it became the name of our company, which, I think, was a gift. I love the name “InClover” because it really does speak to the foundation of our company.
Yeah, I really love how it’s your point. I didn’t know what the meaning was, so I wasn’t familiar with the history. So, it really does sound like it embodies what you believe in.
Yeah. Yeah, you know, it’s just an easier name, I think, than putting pet and natural together, like a company name. So, in hindsight, I think it worked out really well.
So, what’s your vision, Rebecca? What’s your vision for InClover? Where do you see it going?
We are in the process right now of continuing to build on our foundation. We have been a scientifically based development company for 20 years, and we’re really starting now to get the word out, which I really appreciate talking to you and to share our vision of animal health and how we can innovate what animal health looks like.
And we can have that kind of solution for our animals. We don’t have to take less than that.
So, we’re really starting to get the word out right now. We have a passion for building off of our foundation and doing business for good.
And so, one of the things that we’re doing right now is, we’re in the process of the B Corp certification. So, B Corp is corporations who do business for good.
We have, for two years now, we’ve won the top impact award for supplements, which is part of the Pet Sustainability Coalition. They give that award every year.
So, you take a test. It’s all very quantifiable, which speaks to my soul. And so you take a test, and you show how you’re giving back to the community, and you’re setting up your business to be sustainable and to live past when I can do this business.
And so, we’re getting all of that foundation in place right now, and that has been a really fun project for us.
That’s really cool. And I’m really excited to hear you doing that. It sounds like this is obviously you fulfilling your dream.
So, if people want to learn more about your products, about you, how do they go about doing that? How do they get in contact?
Well, I hope they go to our website, which is www.inclover.com, and check us out on social media, which is InClover Pet. That’s how they can find us on Instagram or on Facebook. We’re on LinkedIn. We’re on Twitter.
So, you can find us in a variety of different places. And I hope that people do look at and learn a little bit more about our company, and our products, and where to buy our products.
We’re in a lot of independent pet stores, so if you have a favorite independent pet store, they’ll probably have our product. You can also purchase on www.amazon.com or at our website, and just getting the word out.
You know, we’ve done a lot of our growth through grassroots, through people using our products and seeing results, and then going, “Wow, I waited until my pet actually had these, you know, couldn’t walk the steps before I started using your Connectin product? And now with my new pet, I’m starting them when they’re young so that we can have, you know, healthier, longer, happier lives.”
That is really cool. And this stuff is really fascinating.
I really enjoyed talking to you today, Rebecca. Is there anything else you wanted to mention before we wrap things up?
I’ve really enjoyed talking with you, and thanks for giving me the opportunity. And thank you for doing all the good work that you do. It’s really inspiring.
Well, I really appreciate you saying that. And for everybody else out there, as a reminder, if there’s somebody you think I should talk to, make sure to go to www.innovations.show and let us know.
So, if it’s a product, a person, an idea, any type of innovation, we’d love to have them on the show. So, let us know about it, and thank you again, Rebecca. I really enjoyed it. And so glad that you came on today.
Thank you. It’s very nice to talk with you.
Thanks for joining us for the Animal Innovations Show!
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