An avid animal lover, Mindy Tenenbaum founded DNA My Dog in 2008, recognizing the value of canine DNA testing to pet owners and rescues alike. Mindy is actively involved in canine rescue in the Greater Toronto Areas. She holds a Master’s Degree in Veterinary Forensics and serves as an expert witness in animal abuse cases. DNA My Dog’s testing services are sold to customers around the globe.
How did you get into the industry?
I have always been actively involved in Canine rescue so when new canine genetic science began emerging in the early 2000s I knew it was something I wanted to be involved in. It is the perfect marriage of being able to help pet owners and being able to be part of new and emerging DNA testing. The opportunities we have available today would have been unheard of even 5 or 6 years ago.
Any emerging industry trends?
As pets become more important in people’s lives pet owners are seeking out as much information as they can to make sure their pets achieve maximum wellness. This includes trends in enhanced genetic screening for cancers and other diseases. It also includes the latest and greatest tests used on humans being re-designed for use on pets. It is also interesting that a number of genetic tests used to advance human health were originally developed on dogs. There is no question that the place a pet has in our lives has taken on an increasingly significant role.
Any industry opportunities or challenges?
As the pet marketplace grows there are many new opportunities both good and bad. It is important to stay focused on the tests and products that will best serve the pet owning population and help people provide their animals with the best and most accurate genetic testing available.
Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?
My inspiration for the business was originally to help dog shelters and rescues raise money by offering DNA testing to their adopters. Since then our audience has expanded into any dog owner who wants to learn the canine ancestry of their dog as well as to the veterinary community. We are in the process of developing some ground-breaking new tests that will offer dog owners and veterinarians the ability to access information about the health and well-being of their dogs that was previously not even imaginable. Our roots remain in rescue so we are always trying to come up with novel ways to help in that area.
What's next for the Business in the near future?
We are in the process of launching a new genetic test that will be very helpful for the health of all dogs. We are also working on our new Canine Allergy test which offers a low-priced service that covers about 100 items a dog may be reacting to. This test will help those who have dogs with intolerances and sensitivities discover the various food and environmental items affecting their pets. This allows them to eliminate them from the dog’s diet and eat a more suitable diet, or change factors in the pet’s environment so their dog is not reacting to them.
In the past year we have taken on a number of forensic cases, many of them dealing with animal cruelty. We have the tools to provide forensic services to the community and we hope to be able to offer these on a larger scale. Fighting animal abuse is something that is very near and dear to our organization and I think it will become an important part of our business.
Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?
Previously we got caught by not being ready for the increase in business we have seen. I am now making sure we have better forecasting in place so we can meet the demands our growth will present us. This includes investing in new technology, people and equipment to meet our needs. While it may be the more boring part of business for me it is definitely an increasingly important area for us.
Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)
Over the past 10 years we have had many challenges, too many to mention. After many sleepless nights and time spent worrying I realized I needed to find a way to not get caught up in the bad days. Focusing on the negative uses a lot of energy that can be put to much better use.
Ideal experience for a customer/client?
Nothing is more rewarding than when our customers share their experiences with their dogs with us. So many of the dogs we test are rescues and each comes with its own story. Our clients love to share their stories and in the process they turn from customers to friends.
How do you motivate others?
Since we work with people and their dogs we have many opportunities for our staff to be motivated. I believe everyone is a stakeholder in the organization and I encourage everyone to work together to make sure we are the best we can be. For some of us there is motivation in coming to work and getting to look at dogs all day!
Career advice to those in your industry?
Our specific niche is small but the pet industry is huge. In my experience pets are the great equalizer and it doesn’t matter if you are trying to meet a person who loves dogs to the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, everyone loves talking about their pets. I always say everyone thinks their dog is the greatest and none of them are wrong!
What do I do best?
Live with a healthy sense of humility and truly care for people and their dogs.
What makes me the best version of myself?
I have a strong ability to focus on what is in front of me and not get caught up in what others think I should be interested in.
What are my aspirations?
I aspire to create the next big thing for animal genetic testing!
My Biggest Success?
My biggest success is getting to run a company that is a pleasure to work at every single day. Not only for me but for everyone who works there.
My Most Challenging Moment?
We are at a critical time in our company’s growth so I have had to scale back on a lot of the field rescue work I do which makes me really happy. It is difficult to not have the time to do those things that bring me great satisfaction but I am hopeful someday soon I can return to it.
I generally try to not take myself too seriously-which is harder than it sounds.
My Favorite People/Role Models?
The men and woman at the frontlines of canine rescue-dedicating their lives to helping animals with little or no support
My Father who taught me to not apologize for anything and to not suffer bullies
My Favorite Places/Destinations?
Right now I can’t get enough of Rome and Hong Kong, my two favorite destinations.
My Favorite Products/Objects?
My Apple Watch, my music, a good running path
My Current Passions?
Excited to see what the next year brings to DNA My Dog as we finish developing some exciting new tests.