'Barking up the right tree’: A Masterclass in pursuing your passion in business from Bella & Duke co-founder Mark Scott

Published on 18 November 2022

The Centre for Entrepreneurship at the University of Dundee hosted a masterclass with Mark Scott, co-founder of Bella & Duke, on 2 November 2022.

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Our Entrepreneurial Masterclasses are inspiring talks from established entrepreneurs which happen throughout the academic year. These are organised as discipline-specific events across the academic schools within the University and are open to everyone.

Bella & Duke was the result of Mark’s personal journey with nutrition and health. About six years ago, he had completely burnt out due to not looking after his own well-being; therefore, Mark decided he needed to change his life to improve it and spent a whole year learning about nutrition. He learnt how to perform better mentally and physically and started feeling great after spending time doing meditation, eating well and avoiding processed food.

Around that time, Mark and his neighbour Tony, then co-founder of Bella & Duke, lost two out of three of their dogs to cancer by the age of ten. Despite not being a vet, Mark had always been passionate about dogs and, after experiencing this loss, he started looking at the ingredients used for pet food. That was his start of the journey to make pet food really good for pets: ‘Food can either be a poison or a medicine, and it’s not obvious sometimes’, said Mark. Describing himself as a ‘pet lover’ and not a scientist or nutritionist, he was really passionate about this and felt the need to do something about it; he wanted to change the pet industry for the better.

A person standing in front a projector screen with a dog and cat lying down

Mark found and teamed up with real experts who have the same passion and view on life as he does. Working with his team at Bella & Duke and finding this the most fulfilling and exciting thing he has done, Mark realised that questions are sometimes more important than the answers. The questions sparked by his own curiosity started him off on the journey to understand why so many pets were getting ill and to then establish a trusted and transparent brand with the goal of educating pet parents on the benefits of great nutrition.

The greatest challenge Mark is currently facing is ‘moving the medical industry in the animal world away from highly processed food’. Conducting research on over 200,000 pets, Mark wants to raise awareness among vets and pet parents on how nutrition plays a crucial role in the wellness of not only people, but also animals. Bella & Duke’s goal is to make sure that anyone who is providing food to pets is of the highest possible quality and safety.

Design and creativity played a huge role when creating the brand for Bella & Duke and starting this business. Through these elements, Mark and Tony wanted to communicate their desire to create a product that can help pets enjoy better health and longevity. Mark talked about how working with his team and having conflicting points of view allows him to question his own perspective and deal with conflict in a healthy and constructive way.

When asked about what advice he would give to students at the University of Dundee, Mark said: ‘surround yourself with great people and listen, but also speak your truth and say something if you feel like you need to.’ He also encouraged young people to not be afraid to feel uncomfortable when their ideas are being challenged, as that is what brings growth.

Speaking to Mark, the one thing about him that doesn’t go unnoticed is his curiosity and the passion that fuels his work; ‘Had I not thought big, I would have taken a completely different journey: follow your passion and follow your gut’, said Mark.

The dog that survived cancer was Gus. He was given just 3 months to live however 6 years later, Gus is happy and healthy at almost 13 years old.

A man kneeling down with two dogs at his side

Elena Gastaldo

Student Logistics and Live Events Officer

Story category Talks