BarkBox Expands, Now Serving Canadian Canines

Monthly subscription goods service BarkBox, which provides dog owners with a collection of treats, toys and tools for playing with and pampering their pets, today announced expansion to Canada, its first international market since it launched in the U.S. last December. The move came naturally, says BarkBox (and Meetup.com) co-founder Matt Meeker in an interview with BetaKit.

“The logistic challenges of [expanding to Canada] weren’t prohibitive,” he said. “It’s a little extra cost, and we have to be a little more careful about service, but aside from that it’s pretty straightforward.” Meeker said the company decided on international expansion over deepening their focus on the U.S. market since they had so many people asking whether or not BarkBox was available to Canadian residents.

BarkBox provides an assortment of dog-focused goods monthly. The boxes contain everything from toys to treats to pet gadgets, for anywhere from $17 per month for a six month subscription to $25 for a single month’s delivery. All options come with free shipping, and are tailored to the dog’s size (small, medium, or large based on weight).

BarkBox is one of a recent crop of subscription services, which used to include ShoeDazzle before it scrapped its subscription payment options late last month. Many others, like razor-focused startup DollarShaveClub, are still fully embracing the subscription goods model, which Meeker agreed makes more sense when you’re dealing with a quickly-expended resource, like dog treats, for instance. Also, he said the subscription model is just a jumping off point for the company.

“We think of the BarkBox as our first product, and it’s a product we do believe has a lot of life to it,” he told us. “We can definitely see millions of people using it, but it’s not an endgame for us. We’re trying to create a brand that serves obsessive dog parents who aren’t currently served by the brands and products that are out there.”

Instead of being an end-goal, Meeker said the BarkBox will serve as a “discovery platform” to help the company in a variety of ways, including allowing it to demo and introduce customers to its own products and branded merchandise in the future. A big part of being able to do that will be expanding its reach, however, and BarkBox hopes to be “on a second continent by the end of the year” to help further that goal, Meeker said.

As for where exactly it’ll head next, Meeker wasn’t certain, though he did note that there is an appetite for BarkBox’s services in the UK, the Netherlands and Australia in particular.

The company has raised $100,000 in funding to date, and picked up 17 new subscribers in its first two hours of Canadian availability, and Meeker says that puts the site on track to likely add an additional 100 by the end of Monday. With its current model, BarkBox derives revenue from subscriptions, and either buys the products from suppliers wholesale, has them provided free as a promotional tool, or actually has people pay to have their items included.

It’s expected that $53 billion will be spent on pet products in 2012 in the U.S. alone, and multiple pet-focused startups are already trying to capitalize on this huge industry, but BarkBox’s model is fairly unique for now, and the insight it will gain from subscriber feedback could help it better tailor its offerings to users down the road.

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