US Chia, helmed by co-founder Zack Pennington, presented today at #OpenCoffeeLou, celebrating the company’s steady growth. US Chia, familiar to Insider Louisville readers, provides the only U.S.-grown chia seeds as supplements to the equine/pet and human markets.
Claire Spalding, marketing, and Megan Devine, client relations, for US Chia were also on the panel.
Two million people own 10 million horses in this country — that’s also how many motorcycles are on the road. Horse owners buy half of all the pet supplements sold, and that’s a $1 billion market.
Chia is good for the overall health of horses, but it is especially good for hooves, joints and the gut, skin and coat. Horses consume about four pounds of chia a month.
Most customers buy online. While they’ve only been to three trade shows, sales are swift there. At the three expos, they were the only chia distributors. They take orders at trade shows and ship to your house.
“Every trade show we’ve made more money than we’ve spent,” said Pennington. They’ve created a chia-hole game — like cornhole, but with bags of chia seeds — that they use to give discounts to trade-show customers and which draws attention to the booth.
US Chia also is sponsoring professional rodeo riders and Olympic-level riders to build their brand.
“We’re really the only chia company that really has a brand, because all the other companies use the same stuff,” said Pennington, referring to the fact other companies use chia from overseas and South America.
“Don’t forget you can sell stuff over the phone. Consider your demographic,” he advised. He said “horse people” tend to be more traditional and tech-averse, and that people call and say, “I saw this on your website. Can I buy it over the phone?”
Most of the online orders come between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m.
Spalding said Facebook ads do well for them. “Your horse got ulcers?” was one of the best because it was very specific to a problem. Instead of selling something, it comes at making a sale from an educational perspective.
Most of their customers are recreational horse owners. Thoroughbred owners are the slowest to change anything about their horse care. You don’t want to experiment on a million-dollar pony, right?
Let’s not forget, it’s a superfood for humans, too. You can buy food-grade chia on the website.