It began with a Great Dane named Hugo — Matt Meeker founded BarkBox as a way to make his canine friend happy. Today more than 200,000 dogs receive monthly toys and treats in the mail. Read Matt’s tips and tools for entrepreneurs.

My light bulb moment for starting BarkBox…

I’m obsessed with my dog, a Great Dane named Hugo. On a daily basis I was looking for ways to make Hugo happy with a new toy or treat that was perfect for him, but found it very challenging. I was sharing that with my co-founder, Henrik, and we thought of the monthly box idea with products that are perfect for your dog.

we knew we were onto something…

Right away! Selling to 1 million people didn’t really matter as long as my dog loved it. I also knew when my dad subscribed for his dog.
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What sets us apart as a company…

It’s a mix of many things in a perfect formula. One for sure is our obsession with our dogs and wanting to make them happy.

Lessons I learned from my past startups that prepared me for launching BarkBox…

Probably the biggest lesson is to not get too high or too low at any point. Startups are filled with ups and downs and it’s important to remain pretty steady throughout. Also, customers decide what’s great in a company, not investors.

e-commerce trends that I am most excited about…

I’m most excited by the boring trends…

  1. Delivering the package to a customer faster.
  2. Getting more value into every package for a customer.
  3. Understanding a customer better in order to present them with products that are more perfect for them.

Tools I use to motivate my team to achieve and surpass our goals…

We let the people working for us know that we care about them and that we are all responsible for any success we have.

Traits I look for when hiring…

Dog obsession; selfless people who are humble with no ego; people with character and who are characters; creative and innovative people; people who are driven to make an impact on the world and our business; entrepreneurs; and all around good people.

Keys to Success in the subscription box industry…

I can’t speak for every company with a subscription box product, but in our case it is important to not thinking of what we’re doing as a subscription box company. We are a company that exists to make dogs and their people happy. Delivering products that do that with the subscription box is the method of achieving our goal, but there are many others. When you think of your company solely as a method of delivering products, it’s easy to lose sight of the customer and what they want.

Advice for gaining feedback from your customers…

Ask and listen. If you truly listen and are responsive to the feedback, customers will talk your ear off and often give you a map of what they want next. You just have to listen.

My top 3 customer retention tips…

  1. Listen to customers.
  2. Build products for the customer without compromise.
  3. Keep innovating.

Bark & Co identifies growth opportunities by…

Building products we want for our own dogs. And, when you tell people about a product and they smile, they giggle, they light up, they get excited…build that one.

In 5 years Bark & Co will be…

Much bigger with many many products in the world! These are toys and treats for dogs, entertainment for dogs and their people, experiences for dogs and their people, and so much more that we have coming. I’m telling you, in the next five years I will fly on a commercial flight with my Great Dane, Hugo, and we will be responsible for that.

What entrepreneurship means to me…

Entrepreneurship is a huge responsibility and means wanting to make the world a better place by bringing new products and experiences to people who need them. And you have to take that seriously. When you do, people count on you to make them, their loved ones, and of course their dogs happy. Other people count on you for jobs or trust you with investment capital that is hard earned.