031213_040.   Photo by cadmanof50s.

Entrepreneur:

Benesh is part of an explosion in pet businesses that is inspiring many new entrepreneurs to start their own ventures offering a product or service for Rover, Fluffy or almost any kind of animal you can think of. Since many animal businesses can easily be launched at home with little capital, entrepreneurs are lining up by the dozen to sell their wares. Based on attendance at the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association’s recent annual trade shows, an estimated 125 to 150 new pet business are created each year, and there are no visible signs of a slowdown anytime soon, says Andrew Darmohraj, vice president and deputy managing director of the Greenwich, Connecticut-based organization.

Just look at the numbers spurring this continuous growth. Pet spending has more than doubled in the past 11 years–from $17 billion in 1994 to a projected $35.9 billion by the end of this year, according to statistics from the APPMA. Fueling this trend are empty nesters lavishing attention and money on their pets, young adults who are having children later and currently put their time and energy into their animals, and a pet industry that has become more sophisticated at consumer marketing, points out James Chung, president of Reach Advisors LLC, a Belmont, Massachusetts, business strategy and research consultancy. The influence of mass media–including popular cable channels like Animal Planet–has also made the family pet more revered than ever, Darmohraj adds.

In fact, the pet business is now the seventh largest retail segment in the nation, with consumers spending more on their beloved creatures than they do on candy or toys, according to the APPMA. And a whopping 63 percent of all U.S. households–or 69 million homes–have a pet.

Photo by cadmanof50s.