By Betsy Natter
What do penicillin, Post-it Notes and chocolate chip cookies have in common? Accidentally created, each of these products rose in popularity to become a household name. Today, two Bucks County entrepreneurs hope the same success follows their accidental creation – Brewscuits!
Brewscuits are handcrafted dog biscuits made from spent grains, a natural byproduct of beer brewing. Homebrewers and now entrepreneurs Kim Triol and Patrina DiOrio had just brewed a batch and placed the spent grains outside on the porch. When their rescue dogs began to get into the bags and munch down on the grains, a research project and full-scale business soon followed.
The partners performed extensive research into the nutritional benefits of the natural grains for dogs. After adding a few additional ingredients, flour, eggs and natural flavors, Brewscuits were created. But the special dog treats did not go to market immediately. Triol and DiOrio only moved forward with establishing a business after family and friends encouraged and pushed them to sell their product to the public.
With degrees in Management Operations and Business Management, Triol and DiOrio had many of the necessary skills to set up their new business. They performed a test run of the product for a few months by offering Brewscuits at a local Christmas bazaar and the Telford Market. They received great reviews, made sure the treats were veterinarian approved and officially launched the company.
Yet despite their knowledge of dogs, beer and business, they still had a great deal of work in front of them. The partners had to get licensing and nutritional analysis for the treats, develop product labeling including acquiring UPC numbers and set up insurance coverage for the company. “We had a lot to learn along the way,” says Triol. Happily, they are now in their fifth year of business.
They also set up partnerships with about 15 breweries and distilleries, up-cycling their spent grains. Utilizing this natural byproduct of the brewing process creates something better from what would otherwise become waste. Each bag of treats carries the breweries' logos, telling customers that the treats come from grains used in their brewery. Currently, grains come from collaborative partners in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Vermont. And to complete the circle, each brewery sells the end product – a Brewscuit treat for your dog.
Plans for Expansion
The partners soon hope to move into a larger production facility complete with a bakery and retail storefront. Presently, small family-owned boutique pet stores, health food and grocery stores, veterinarian offices, breweries and pubs carry Brewscuits. In all, 190 locations across the United States offer the dog treats.
As part of the expansion plan, the partners have applied to Shark Tank, the ABC TV show where entrepreneurs pitch their company to high-level investors. Currently, they have reached Round 3 of the latest casting search held in Philadelphia in early 2018. Awaiting further review, they hope to advance and make their pitch to the Sharks themselves. Eventually, they’d like to establish franchise-like bakeries all over the country, always sourcing grains from local breweries.
Caring for Canines in Need
Perhaps one of the most meaningful aspects of the Brewscuits business model is their commitment to caring for dogs in need. Not only do Triol and DiOrio own two dogs who were rescued, but they always leave a spot in their home to shelter and care for an animal whose owner is deployed for military service. The company also supports Mission K9 Rescue by sending welcome packages to retiring military service dogs as they go into civilian homes. And finally, one dollar from every bag of Brewscuits sold online goes monthly to a dog rescue organization to help fund their work.
When asked if they still find time for brewing their own beer, they answered with a resounding yes! “We really strive for a healthy work/life balance. Your work can’t be all-consuming or you begin to jeopardize the quality of the product. We strive to maintain what we’re doing.”
Maintaining high quality is extremely important to the owners. DiOrio emphasizes that the dog treats contain no alcohol, sugar, additives or preservatives and are a great source of protein. They come in three basic flavors – sweet potato, peanut butter and pumpkin. Brewscuits also produces “Blaque,” a treat made with mint and activated charcoal to help tummies and breathe and “Brewnip” to keep even your feline friends happy. Check out the Brewscuits website at brewscuit.com to view the complete line of products.