Canine-focused subscription goods startup BarkBox announced a new round of funding today, add to its $100,000 seed round raised just five months ago. The new round is led by Mike Hirschland of Resolute.vc, and includes Lerer Ventures, RRE, Polaris Ventures, Bertelsmann and 500 Startups. Angel investors, including existing investor Gary Vaynerchuk, also participated in the round. BarkBox CEO Matt Meeker tells us that the funds will be used to help BarkBox grow to keep pace with demand.
The funny thing about this round, according to Meeker, is that it really wasn’t part of the plan when the startup was initially conceived. “We started thinking this would be a little side project, and a nice little cash flow business, and then we got such tremendous feedback about it we decided there’s a much bigger opportunity here,” he said.”If we want to do it right, we’re going to need some capital in the bank to go build a team and start building real relationships with suppliers and things like that, so we decided to go out and raise that money to do it.”
Meeker, who previously founded Meetup and was also previously Entrepreneur in Residence at Polaris Ventures, said that he and his founding team chose investors for this round based on having worked with them in the past. “Almost all of them I have previous relationships with,” he said. “Really all of these are people I’ve known for quite a while, and I’m excited to work with them.”
The new injection of capital will help BarkBox expand its team, bringing on new staff to help it fuel sales, customer service and marketing. Meeker also said that the money will help with “inventory,” as a broad category, and “getting ahead of the curve” in that department. That will involve both helping BarkBox, which currently offers a selection of goods to dog-owners on a monthly subscription basis, get its own branded product lines off the ground (something Meeker told us about before in an interview about BarkBox’s Canadian launch), and also securing relationships with third-party suppliers who provide content for the monthly packages they deliver to subscribers. BarkBox’s product ambitions include not only branded goods, but additional features and services for pet-lovers.
While BarkBox may have started out as more of a simple side project for Meeker and his team, the startup’s new goal of becoming the one-stop brand of choice for dog owners looking for quality products, reviews and information is an incredibly ambitious project. The NYC company is clearly keen to ramp up its strategy in response to its surprise success, and it’ll be interesting to watch how its approach to the $53 billion pet care industry evolves as a result.