Why did you start a subscription service for dogs?
Henrik Werdelin: There’s a difference between a dog owner and a dog parent. Dog parents are people who really love their dogs. Unfortunately, there aren’t many places they can go to find new ways to delight their dog. BarkBox is full of those things.
Carly Strife: Like dog-bone-shaped ice-cube trays that make dog treats, or a dog massager.
H.W.: We also wanted an e-commerce model that would help save shelter dogs; a subscription service is perfect for that.
How does it work?
H.W.: You sign up online, and we send your dog a box full of goodies on the fifteenth of each month (from $17; barkbox.com). Ten percent [of the proceeds are] given to a local shelter. And the first box comes with a yellow collar that dogs can wear to show they support dog charities.
C.S.: We try and fill the box with products made by small, local vendors.
So you’re all devoted dog parents?
C.S.: I have a puggle, Cooper, and a pit-bull mix, Roxy; we’re a big happy family.
Matt Meeker: Hugo is like my child. He’s a Great Dane.
H.W.: My apartment won’t allow pets, but I sponsor six shelter dogs. I’m the guy who stands at the dog park drooling. I’ve even tried to seduce dogs on the street with my BarkBoxes.
C.S.: He’s like the guy in the white van, except he’s got BarkBoxes in the back.
Has business taken off?
C.S.: We’re six months old and already have a couple thousand subscribers. We are shipping to every state!
Any surprising subscribers?
H.W.: Matt’s dad signed up without knowing Matt was working on it.
Do each of you have different dog-parenting styles?
C.S.: Matt’s a spender.
M.M.: Hugo gets picked up by a school bus and goes to a very selective day care. We went through a whole application and interview process. But I have a strict no-clothes rule.
H.W.: My sponsor dogs are pretty good at sending letters. My wife and I put their pictures on the refrigerator.
Do you think it’s true that people look like their dogs?
M.M.: I wish I did.
C.S.: Matt has a crush on his dog.
M.M.: He is a very good-looking dog.