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Turning Spent Grain into Pet Treat Profits

PET PRODUCTS: Former Qualcomm Analyst Finds Success with Doggie Beer Bones

SAN DIEGO – A systems analyst at Qualcomm Incorporated for 16 years, David Crane put his longtime career on “paws” to start his own business.

Dave Crane
Founder & CEO
Doggie Beer Bones

Crane left his day job at Qualcomm in 2018 to start a company called Doggie Beer Bones, making sustainable, low-calorie and nutritionally dense dog treats from natural ingredients, including fresh spent beer grain from craft breweries throughout San Diego.

Crane actually started making dog treats as a side hustle in 2010, an outgrowth of his own beer making hobby coupled with an innate curiosity about how to make better use of spent grain that was left over when he was finished brewing.

Financing Doggie Beer Bones through personal investment with an initial capital injection of about $1,000 from his own resources, which allowed him to kickstart the venture and establish a foundation for the business, the growth at Doggie Beer Bones has been consistent through the years, reflecting what he says has been a slow and steady trajectory, “much like ‘The Tortoise and the Hare.’”

“Over the past four years, we’ve seen remarkable progress: from 2020-21, our gross income surged by an impressive 246.8%, accompanied by a steady net income growth of 5.9%.” Crane said. “Despite a slight dip in gross income by 15.0% from 2021-22, our net income experienced a substantial increase of 63.%. The upward trend continued in 2023, with a robust 43.6% growth in gross income and a remarkable 389.6% surge in net income compared to the previous year.”

Doggie Beer Bones’ flagship product is Peanut Butter Crunchy Treats, made from peanut butter and malted barley sourced from the beer brewing process. (Doggie Beer Bones also comes in Cheesy Crunchy flavor.)

The company’s Soft-Baked, Grain-Free Treats, in bacon and pumpkin flavors, is a line of treats designed for dogs with specific dietary preferences or needs, offering a softer texture without grains. While the American Kennel Club says that no study has shown grain-free diets to be superior to grain-inclusive diets, grain-free products may help some dogs with digestion issues and allergic reactions.

CBD Line Moved the Needle

The company had a big growth spurt in mid-2019 when Crane introduced a soft-baked, grain-free line of treats and the line of cannabidiol-infused treats and CBD-infused jars of peanut butter. CBD comes from the industrial hemp plant and offers pain relief and relaxation without mind-altering effects.
Crane said the CBD treats were a hit with grain-sensitive customers and was what propelled his company into the private label branding space. He said he grossed six figures in sales in 2019 and 2020 and while revenues have tapered off since then, the company is still profitable.

Beer Bones’ peanut butters come in CBD strength levels of 150 milligrams, 300 mg and 600 mg. Popular Science reports that CBD-based treats can play a role in managing pain, anxiety, inflammation, arthritis and other disorders in dogs.

Doggie Beer Bones items are sold on the company’s website as well as in select local retailers and breweries, including Stone Brewing Company and Modern Times Brewery and Tasting Room locations throughout the county.

Crane partners with several dog-friendly breweries like Stone, Second Chance Brewing Company, Harland Brewing, Modern Times, Culture Brewing Co., Ballast Point and AleSmith to create dog biscuits, which are sold online as well as in specialty pet stores. Doggie Beer Bones also offers private label branding for its products at wholesale discounted pricing.

Crane, a former U.S. Marine, has just one employee in addition to himself, but they use local bakeries to co-manufacture Doggie Beer Bones products in San Diego. Doggie Beer Bones works with Petrucci Marketing in Oceanside to create its marketing videos seen on Facebook and other social media platforms and manage its growing email subscriber list.

Operating without a brick-and-mortar store or a dedicated baker, Crane uses third-party logistics services to efficiently pack and ship products to customers.

This streamlined approach enables the company to focus on product development, quality control and customer engagement while ensuring reliable and timely delivery, he said.

Doggie Beer Bones also works with local businesses from other industries, including Dark Horse Coffee Roasters; City Dogs, the dog wash and pet supply shop in downtown San Diego; and Little Italy Carté Hotel.

Starting at the Farmers Market

“It started small with a booth at the Little Italy farmers market for the first year and then quickly grew by bringing on private label brands like Stone Brewing Company,” Crane said. “We started making Stone Bones dog treats and ‘Pint Packs’ for them early on. They continue to be one of our best wholesale/private label branded customers.”

Outside of San Diego, Doggie Beer Bones has partnered with breweries like Anderson Valley Brewing Co. in Northern California and SmuttyNose Brewing Co. in Hampton, New Hampshire.

Crane said his mentors have included his grandfather, who sold his own handcrafted airplane wheels from his garage to members of a remote control model airplane club; his father who owned a variety of businesses, from a pager company to a real estate enterprise; and his uncle, who owned a phone/security systems company.

Crane said another valuable source of mentorship was a three-year stint in the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) accelerator in San Diego.

Doggie Beer Bones also partners with the band Sublime and make the group’s Lou Dog CBD Bites and hopes to sell them on site at Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival this year.

Doggie Beer Bones
FOUNDER and CEO: David Crane
BUSINESS: Pet Industry/Dog Treats/Retail-Wholesale CPG
REVENUE: More than $100,000 in 2023
EMPLOYEES: 2 full-time and contracting out with local bakeries to make its products
WEBSITE: doggiebeerbones.com
CONTACT: 619-796-BEER or info@doggiebeerbones.com
SOCIAL IMPACT: Doggie Beer Bones conducts an annual donation match program, matching proceeds from treats sold by several of its wholesale customers and contribute to their favorite charity or a hu-mane society of their choosing.
NOTABLE: Doggie Beer Bones is a veteran-owned business


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