About this episode

My guest this week is Matt Meeker, Co-founder of Bark, and while the Bark’s name itself might not cause your ears to perk up in excitement for what's to come in this episode.

Bark’s various product lines are household names. Their flagship product being BarkBox, with over 1.7 million active BarkBox subscribers, BarkBox is the Premier subscription dog toy and treat service. In addition to BarkBox, Bark has various product lines that can be found in over 23,000 retail outlets. Matts entire episode is chock full of value because his journey and his experiences are so extensive.

To start with Matt was one of the digital advertising pioneers, and we discuss what digital advertising was like long before the days of Facebook ads. Matt was also a Co-founder of Meetup, which eventually sold the WeWork for $156 million in 2017. And now in 2021, Matt and the Bark leadership team are navigating the SPAC landscape to bring Bark to the public markets. As I said, Matts episode covers quite a bit of ground and I'm super pumped to bring it to you. But with that said while I know, you're excited to hear his insights into SPAC’s and all things subscription-related we need to start at the very beginning.

In this episode, you'll hear:

  • How he grew up in a small town in Iowa with his parents who were very different. His father was a conservative accountant and his mother a rebel who encouraged him to form his path.
  • How he was entrepreneurial from a young age, at school he had many side hustles like running the schools poker games and selling red cups to buy beer.
  • How he played Racquetball competitively and went on to play at the National Tournament.
  • Matt went to the University of Minnesota but only lasted one quarter as he only went because everyone expected him to go.
  • How Matt dropped out of college and joined the Navy and became a weather observer.
  • Matt went back to university and paid his way through in cash.
  • After college he joined a Digital Ad Agency in March 1997, the company focused on getting traffic from the website to the store. They had big companies like Disney, Capital One and Discover.
  • Matt explains what digital advertising was like in 2000.
  • He shares that the Ad company was very successful but he did sell it, with this he joined forces with one of the companies investors to start a new company.
  • Matt explains that his next company wasn’t successful and it was all down to the execution of the business. The company had more money they knew what to do with and hired big names in the business world but never made a real product or spoke to a customer.
  • Matt shares how the founder of the Ad agency Scott started talking about the next business venture.
  • Matt shares how Scott and himself started Meetup, a company trying to encourage people to get out of their house and meet people online. They also wanted to change the negative narrative of meeting people online.
  • How Matt and Scott hired their CTO for Meetup from a listing they put on Craigslist.
  • Matt shares that he left Meetup because it was getting too big with 45 employees and he didn’t want the stress of it.
  • Matt founded Barkbox in September 2011 and never thought it would grow to over 735 employees.
  • Matt shares that he started Barkbox as he was living in New York with his Great Dane Hugo, when they went into a pet shop there was nothing for big dogs.
  • He shares that Groupon brought in half of their customers in the first year.
  • Matt shares how BarkBox has further developed into different sections like SuperHuman, Bark Bright, Bark Eats and Bark Home.
  • How BarkBox developed its own dog food as they wanted dogs to be fed as an individual.

Resources from this episode

Grindology: https://www.grindologymagazine.com/

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The Startup Story on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/thestartupstory
The Startup Story is now on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/jamesmckinney
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Sponsor Movo: https://movo.cash/

Bark HQ: https://bark.co/
BarkBox: https://www.barkbox.com

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Episode transcript

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December 07 2021
Matt Meeker, co-founder of BARK (replay)

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