Bristly Business Story

Petros Dertsakyan is a life-long pet lover. As a child, he lost a beloved dog to complications from periodontal disease, more commonly known as gum disease. A seed was planted that would shape his future career.

Dertsakyan is a molecular biologist and was a professor in that field but always dreamed of going into business for himself. He got his feet wet in the business world working with a bio-tech firm and later with a startup in the virtual reality realm. He was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug and began searching for his next venture.

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“I’ve been a pet lover all my life. I wanted to do something impactful for pets and their owners to make sure the pet’s teeth are taken care of,” he says. Dertsakyan’s research uncovered troubling facts about canine health. He discovered that 8 out of 10 dogs show signs of periodontal disease by age 3 and that 95% of dog owners don’t brush their dog’s teeth. Additionally, a professional teeth cleaning by a veterinarian can cost $200 or more and comes with risks due to the anesthesia required to sedate.

Dertsakyan identified an oral hygiene product gap. There just wasn’t an easy or effective way to brush a dog’s teeth that was comfortable for the animal or their owner. The inspiration for Bristly, a revolutionary way for dogs to brush their own teeth, was born.

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Dertsakyan’s idea was to create a device designed with dog’s anatomy and chewing behavior in mind to encourage natural teeth cleaning during play. He came up with specifications and the overall look and worked with engineers to create a manufacturable design. He says, “With just a drawing on paper and a 3D model, I was successful in attracting investors willing to give my business idea a go.”

His product was so unique, he was selected to appear on the hit television show “Shark Tank” in 2018. After making his pitch, he agreed to a funding deal with Lori Greiner.

Unfortunately, the deal didn’t go through but that didn’t deter Dertsakyan. He continued working to bring Bristly to pet owners everywhere.

Bristly is now available throughout the U.S. It’s a 2-in-1 dog dental chew toy with 2-sided bristles that clean dog’s teeth down to the gum line. There’s even a reservoir for toothpaste - beef flavored of course. Bristly also offers dental treats, tongue cleaners, and a full line of dental care products.

To fund his growing venture once he got off the ground, Dertsakyan took out lines of credit and small bank term loans. However, the terms were short and the payments cut into his cash flow. He started researching other funding options. “I initially had a negative perception of SBA loans. I thought they were for small amounts with restrictive use rules,” he says. “But then I discovered that I could get the amount I needed with 10-year terms and a good payment that wouldn’t impact cash flow. That’s a crucial growth tool for any start-up.”

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Dertsakyan worked with Relationship Manager Chris throughout the application process. He was so impressed with the service, he left a 5-star review on the SmartBiz Loans TrustPilot page.

“AMAZING EXPERIENCE! Chris was the best. He helped us through this process and made it so easy. Thank you SmartBiz Loans for helping our business grow!”

Chris says, "Petros was excellent to work with! It is easy to see the passion he has for his company and the products Bristly provides. As a business owner, he had a strong understanding of his financials and the overall corporate performance. It is always a pleasure to assist individuals that have a clear plan for sustainable growth and success."

Dertsakyan secured an SBA loan for $250,000 with a 10-year term. “I can now refinance my business debt and am cutting my monthly payment by 1/3,” he says. “It’s an immediate positive for us.”

Dertsakyan has plans to grow his business with the remaining funds.

“I’m going to expand the business by adding 2 more brands in the consumer space,” he says. One of the new brands will be a low-calorie snack for dogs and cats. “We’ve developed a natural sushi type treat made from wild-caught fish with ingredients uniquely developed for digestion and heart health."

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"It’s super healthy. I do practice what I preach. My wife cooks for our 6 dogs. We buy brown rice in bulk and add sweet potatoes and ground turkey. They’re spoiled,” he laughs.

Dertsakyan talks about the challenges of running a successful business. “It’s like waking up every morning to multiple fires. You have to put out the right one and let some burn,” he says. “You can’t solve everything at once because there’s a new challenge every day. I remember how I used to think and make decisions vs. how I do it now. It’s exciting but you have to adjust and be flexible.”

To learn more about dental care for dogs or to order products for your furry friend, visit the Bristly website.

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