Alumnus Adrian Archie, ’03, with two dogs


Underdog rally

We all love an underdog story. This one even doubles as a pun: A budding entrepreneur leaves a career in corporate America to build a haven for pet parents. Adrian Archie, ’03, already had a reputation as a dog whisperer, fielding calls from friends of friends whose pups were having a little trouble. So when Archie entered the pet industry, two of his closest friends and former teammates had his back, both metaphorically and financially.

“I didn’t ask them,” Archie said. “They said, ‘Yo, let us invest.’ I cried. It’s a big deal, you know, when you’re putting a lot into something and the people around you believe in it.”

Jermaine Slade, ’03, Claude Diggs, ’03, and Adrian Archie, ’03
From left, Slade, Diggs, and Archie

But to Claude Diggs, ’03, and Jermaine Slade, ’03, “it was really just a buy-in into Adrian. It wasn’t something we had to think about a whole lot. It was an easy, ‘Yup, let’s do it.’”

The pet industry is growing at a tremendous clip. But the trick is figuring out what pets actually need. “My 4-year-old daughter can tell me when she needs something,” Archie said. “But a dog or cat can’t. We help people identify what their pet needs and how to give it to them in the right way.”

PetNmind Natural Nutrition and Self-Service Dog Wash is not just a place to get your dog fed and cleaned. “What we really have is a local connection,” Archie said. “Pet owners want community. That’s what we give them: the knowledge they need — and at the end of the day, we make their lives easier.”

PetNmind was inspired by Archie’s cat Rocko. Rocko had numerous allergic reactions to the food options on the market. Diggs was buying his cat Mikey those same foods. “Next thing you know, those 32 grams of fat [land him with] diabetes.”

Their response was small BIG Dog naturals, a line of all-natural dog treats the trio developed. “Everything really starts with food in regard to your pet’s health,” said Diggs, operations manager for small BIG Dog. “They have allergies, they’re itching, and a lot of it comes down to what they’re eating.”

But as the guys will tell you, it took a village. “At the end of the day, the University of Richmond was just such a special place for us to grow together and make it to this point in [our lives] and really be proud of what we were able to accomplish.”