David Shade, a Purple Heart recipient, has built one of the leading dog training services in Pennsylvania, and is taking that expertise to launch a virtual dog training solution, PupCamp. In a growing, competitive landscape, he’s launched a beta and continues to demonstrate considerable traction in the market. I recently caught up with David to learn more about his venture, why he’s taking it online, how he utilizes his military experience, and what’s next on their roadmap. Read our interview conversation below:
What is PupCamp?
PupCamp is an online, subscription-based dog training platform that provides dog owners with video courses on topics like puppy development, obedience training, and canine psychology. Our subscribers also can access virtual training support, will receive new content added monthly, product recommendations and discounts on pet products.
Who did you build this startup for initially and why are you taking it virtual?
I’ve been a professional dog trainer for over six years and proud to have changed the lives of thousands of dogs in our community. I found out that more than 600,000 dogs end up euthanized each year, and the primary reason is because of behavior issues, and less than 5% of people get dog training. We know it can be expensive and inconvenient. Because of this, I wanted to bring our training methods and philosophy to a wider audience by leveraging modern technology. The world is moving in a direction where on-demand education and training is becoming the norm. We want to give all people affordable access to great training and education about dog ownership. Furthermore, we are redefining peoples’ relationships with their dogs by transforming them into a partnership.
Can you give more background on your career and how your military experience influenced your business?
I studied biology at college, but I really wanted to work with animals. After serving overseas and dealing with post-traumatic stress, I saw the value that dogs can bring into our lives through the relationship and bond we have with them. In 2015, I decided that I would become an entrepreneur and professional dog trainer by attending a certification school and starting my first dog business.
What’s one thing you wish you knew before starting your business that other veteran entrepreneurs could benefit from hearing?
This is simple. Believe in yourself and you can overcome any obstacle. Creating a successful business is not easy, and it is critical to make sure you are in the right headspace to build it. Late nights, working weekends and putting in 80 hours a week may be necessary. But, if you truly work hard at it, and humble yourself to learn from other experts, you can become successful. When I launched my first company, I expected it to be a simple lifestyle business, but I learned very quickly that my success was only as high as my motivation. The harder I worked, the more successful my brand could grow.
How can people get involved with the company? Are you fundraising?
Yes, with PupCamp we are currently in our seed round of investing. We are also looking for strategic partners within the pet industry. And lastly, for any dog owners that want to both have a better experience with their dog, and also give their dog a better life, we ask them to come check out our program at www.PupCamp.com.
Where can people find more information about getting dog training?
We have structured PupCamp so we can support any puppy parent. But if someone wants in-person services, we are going to be releasing a course soon that talks about this exact thing. The dog training industry is unregulated so there is a ton of misinformation out there on the web. We are planning to release lessons that discuss when and how to hire a Veterinary Behaviorist or dog trainer.
If you liked this article, check out our comprehensive list of more business tips from Harry Alford in Veteran Startup 101
-Feature image courtesy of PupCamp.com