First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Kyle Goguen: My family and I are extremely fortunate. We work in industries that made transitioning remote relatively easy, and we live in a place with the space to accommodate working from home.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Pawstruck.
Kyle Goguen: At Pawstruck, we know that ALL dogs deserve the best. We don’t care if your furball is a show dog or a shelter dog, whether you have a disposable income or are barely making ends meet—we started this business to provide natural, single-ingredient meat chews (things like bully sticks, cow ears, and beef bones) to all dogs nationwide. Prior to launching my company in 2014, single-ingredient chews were primarily found in brick and mortar pet stores. There are three problems with this: limited options, limited store locations, and excessive prices. In rural areas, dogs with allergies or households on a limited budget were out of luck. Pawstruck solves this by responsibly sourcing product direct from slaughterhouses and selling direct to consumers online. We’ve cut out the unnecessary distribution layer found in traditional pet supply chains. Pawstruck provides dog owners the largest selection of meaty single-ingredient chews at prices that all owners can afford since ALL dogs deserve to be happy and healthy.
In addition to my love for dogs, I started Pawstruck for another reason. I’m passionate about entrepreneurship and, in particular, eCommerce. I started selling online at 16. Because I was underage, I used my parents’ PayPal account (with their permission!) and was off to the races. I sold everything I could get my hands on, from designer women’s clothing to electronics. I put myself through college with the money I earned (B.S. in Industrial Engineering) and ultimately was able to combine my passion for eCommerce and my love for dogs.
How does Pawstruck innovate?
Kyle Goguen: Our team is lean and agile. We identify, react, and take action quickly to market trends. We focus on product development and producing things our customer base truly values.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Kyle Goguen: As an eCommerce company, we’ve been lucky enough to be able to remain open throughout the pandemic and deliver pet supplies to dog owners across the country that otherwise had trouble getting what they needed for their animals. The most difficult thing is balancing servicing all of our customers while also keeping our team healthy. Early on, sourcing PPE was challenging, but since then, it’s just been a matter of prioritizing safety over efficiency. Our management team has put the necessary safety procedures in place to keep our fulfillment team distanced and as safe as possible.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Kyle Goguen: Prior to coronavirus, we prioritized speed and efficiency at our fulfillment center. Coronavirus has turned that upside down. We had to quickly pivot to make sure our team was comfortable and safe. This led to a delay in our pick and pack process. We were as transparent as possible with our customers. We were amazed at how understanding our customers were. We received so many supportive emails from them. It was a great feeling and just further confirmation that we were making the right decisions.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Pawstruck in the future?
Kyle Goguen: I have a strong support system around me. In addition to my family and my team, I am part of a 9-person mastermind group made up of business owners just like me. This peer group is a terrific resource for me to brainstorm ideas and deal with stressful situations. My company closely follows the EOS (Entrepreneur’s Operating System). EOS gives Pawstruck the structure and ability to plan and track progress internally. It allows us to plan for the future and hit our goals.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Kyle Goguen: The pet industry is booming! There are thousands and thousands of brands and stores selling similar products. While competition is tough, there’s plenty of space for all of us. I don’t focus on our competition. Instead, I focus on our canine customers and their needs. I care about providing superior products in an approachable, educational, and fun way, allowing us to earn and retain long term trust—at prices that all dogs can afford.
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