We recently had the opportunity to interview Dustin McAdams, co-founder of PupJoy—an innovative company offering a customizable, home-delivery subscription service featuring products to enrich every aspect of your dog’s life. Here’s a look at the company, its business model, and the ways it gives back to the community.
Q:You market great gifts for every aspect of dog life, throughout the life cycle. How did you get started in this business?
A:It’s sort of a gift to get to do what we do. We get to make dogs and their people happy. It is really a rewarding business to be in. I got started as a consumer first and was an early customer of the first subscription box service for dogs. It was fun, and the home delivery was convenient for my busy life, but the problem was that it didn’t work well for my dogs. I have two of them, a couple of rescue mutts of different sizes, each with different dietary and toy needs. The standardized monthly-theme model didn’t allow me to personalize the products for my dogs’ needs. I ended up donating a lot of the stuff I received, so it didn’t have enough value for my household. At the same time, I was using some other types of subscription delivery services, which allowed me to personalize choices for things like clothing and food.
There was an “Aha!” moment that begged the question—why doesn’t this type of choice and personalization exist for dog parents like me? And by the way, "dog parents like me" is a really big, growing market. My co-founder Bill and I had a lot of experience in marketing and technology. So, after some research and planning, we took the leap and set out to build a new and better online shopping model for dog parents. Our customized subscription box service was the first step, and now we are busy building the next chapter of personalized features and functions for dog parents.
Q:What’s been your best-selling item? Or your oddest item?
A:Every PupJoy box is personalized for each customer, so the notion “best-sellers” is a little unique in our world. However, we get high demand for products in certain categories such as grain-free, single-protein, and organic treats, as well as high-durability toys. A couple of the more unique products that we’ve delivered recently include organic bone broth with superfood boosters, that is used as a food topper, and upcycled lobster treats, that utilize parts of lobsters that would otherwise go to waste. Both have been big hits with our customers.
Q:When working with makers of dietary products like food or treats, how do you screen your suppliers for nutritional quality?
A:Our equation is really pretty simple. What is in the product? We look for natural, limited ingredients. No artificial anything. Also, who is the company? We work with independent, high quality brands and we look for safe, trusted and socially responsible manufacturing and business processes. We also love to find companies that do something to give back as part of their business model as well.
Q:You work with some really interesting vendors (like the Push Pushi) dog raincoat. Do you scout them, or do they find you?
A:It is a combination of both. When we first started, we had to actively seek out all our initial suppliers. As we’ve grown, we now routinely have folks reaching out to us. However, we still actively keep a pulse on new and innovative companies that are entering the industry, and we reach out to those that we think may be a great fit for us.
Q:Tell us a little about the Helping Paws® program and the Bissell Pet Foundation, how you got involved and what the program does.
A:From the day we started, we wanted PupJoy to be a model that helped our customers give back to shelter animals in need. We initially worked directly with rescue organizations. However, there is an administrative challenge to do so at any scale. Our partnership with the Bissell Pet Foundation is amazing. They work with over 3700 shelter and rescue organizations to fund large scale adoption events, spay and neuter programs, microchipping and foster networks. This helps us immensely with efficiency, plus 100% of every dollar we donate goes directly to the rescues. The Bissell Corporation funds the administration of the foundation. So aside from being a group of wonderful people, they help our donation dollars work harder. The Helping Paws program is simple and transparent: $2 of every PupJoy Subscription order is donated to the foundation.
Q:Tell us a little about your gift boxes and subscription plan.
A:We’re proud to be the top customer-rated service of our type. We’ve also worked very hard to achieve that. Be it gift boxes for individuals or corporate clients, or individual subscription plans, there are a few core things that we do. We customize specific to the needs of the customer or the gift recipient. We use very high-quality products from responsible indie brands. And we service the heck out of our customers. It is reflected in our reviews. No one provides better customer service than we do.
Q:What do you feel sets PupJoy apart from the competition?
A:The focus that we have on the customer. Today, our subscription service is the most customizable on the market, we utilize the highest quality products and our service is second to none. And we have our eyes on the future. We’re currently building our next generation of features, which will put even more choice and control in the hands of our customers and will allow us to serve them even better with a many new product categories and personalized purchasing options.
Q:What would you like people to know about PupJoy that they may not find on your website?
A:We have big ambitions to help transform the way dog parents shop online, making it more convenient and more valuable for them. We believe the foundation of this is to give our customers an unprecedented amount of control over things like product choices and delivery schedules, to be intelligent in knowing our customers’ preferences and in recommending products and services that are valuable to them individually, and to never waiver from servicing them like they are friends and family.
We’re actively working behind the scenes to gather customer feedback and build technology that will fuel this next chapter of PupJoy. Stay tuned! There are a lot of exciting things around the corner.
Cecily Kellogg is a pet lover who definitely has crazy cat lady leanings. Her pets are all shelter rescues, including the dog, who is scared of the cats. She spent eight years working as a Veterinary Technician before becoming a writer. Today she writes all over the web, including here at Figo.