Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Fetch! BarkBox Raises $5 Million for Doggy Treat Deliveries.

barkboxMyspace for people who like dogs? Seen it. Airbnb for people who like dogs? Seen two of those.

So, of course, there’s a Birchbox — the subscription service that delivers a monthly package of makeup samples — for people who like dogs, too.

It’s called BarkBox, obviously. It’s a bit more than a year old and has 35,000 customers paying at least $19 a month. And now it has $5 million in venture money, via a round led by RRE Ventures.

The new money comes on top of $1.7 million the startup raised last year, from all of the same investors in the new round, including Lerer Ventures, Polaris Ventures, 500 Startups and Bertelsmann.

The New York-based company is using the money to build out other canine-related businesses, including BarkPost, which CEO Matt Meeker describes as a dog-specific version of BuzzFeed’s “animals” site, and BarkCare, a $199-a-year service that gives dog owners 24/7 access to vets for consultations online and over the phone. The company is also rebranding as Bark & Co.

In the old days, it was easy to dismiss this kind of narrow, this-version-of-that-thing concept as a symptom of a bubble. But we’re (seemingly) past that now — if it works in one vertical, there’s no reason it can’t in another. And some dog-owners really, really like their dogs.

“One thing that surprised us was that there’s just a ton of room for innovation in the space,” says Meeker, who created the company while he was running the New York location of startup incubator Dogpatch Labs for Polaris, and also co-founded community organizing site Meetup.

One difference between BarkBox and Birchbox,  Meeker says, is that BarkBox doesn’t give subscribers samples, but full-sized deliveries of stuff they’d like their dogs to have, like toys and treats.

Okay. So why not at least broaden the business out to attract cat-lovers, too? Not happening, says Meeker. “We’re all-in on dogs, and dogs only.”


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