Bark Buildings is Redefining Dog Friendly, One Apartment Complex at a Time
Each week during the course of the Leap Venture Studio, our 3-month accelerator for pet care startups, we will feature one of the seven companies in our cohort.
The brother-sister duo behind Bark Buildings, Devir and Danit Zivan, stated that they always wanted to go into business with each other. Unlike most siblings who would never consider working together, this pair has successfully built a thriving business in Jersey City, NJ.
It all started 5 years ago when Devir was living in Jersey City with his two dogs and began to identify the common pain points of pet parents in residential apartment buildings. Many other dog owners in his building chose Jersey City over Manhattan because their dogs needed more space. “I knew how much [my dogs] influenced my decision on where to live,” said Devir. “Bark Buildings was created directly out of my experience with having dogs and being in a community with other pet owners.”
Bark Buildings was founded in the summer of 2016 in the apartment building where Devir was living. Three years later, Bark Buildings now partners with 21 residential apartment buildings across Jersey City to offer a free amenity program for pet owners. If you are a part of the “Canine Club” in your building, you can attend monthly events, receive gifts for your pets, and gain access to on-site pet care services — from dog walking to grooming to cat sitting.
At first, Devir’s older sister, Danit, was helping the business remotely, until her brother convinced her to join him on the East Coast. Despite being first time founders, Devir and Danit understood their customers and decided to focus on having close relationships with their clients.
The company has bootstrapped its way to more than 20 employees and has been profitable since the summer of 2017. Now that they’ve conquered Jersey City and fine-tuned their Canine Club offerings, Bark Buildings is looking to expand into new markets like New York City in the next 12 months.
That’s one of the reasons they decided to apply for the Leap Venture Studio. Through the connections and services offered in the program, Bark Buildings is hoping to be better positioned to raise money, hone their business model, and expand their partnerships with even more buildings.
Devir shared his goals for Bark Buildings and excitement around their growth with our team. “When we started Bark Buildings, we obviously felt there was a need for what we’re doing, but seeing it validated by the connections we’ve made between pet owners, the impact we’ve had by helping nervous or less confident dogs, and the value we’ve created for building owners and operators has strongly validated that feeling. Our Canine Cub amenity program has truly redefined dog friendly — we’ve taken our time to perfect the model, and we’re ready to change how people and pets live in communities all around the U.S.”
In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, Devir & Danit launched a GoFundMe to help their local community and their team of 20+ part time dog walkers who are feeling this impact strongly. They are putting together a sandwich prep program for their local homeless shelter (Hoboken Shelter) and compensating their dog walking team for donating their time. Bark Buildings will be matching the initial $1,000 in funds donated, but they are aiming much higher so they need your help! If you are interested in supporting them, visit their GoFundMe to learn more and donate.
By Isabel Havens, Program Leap Coordinator for Michelson Found Animals