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Two Men + Lots Of Dogs = Running Paws

Posted Under: Entrepreneurship, Our Heroes

Happy Double Dose Tuesday, everyone!! Oh, in case you don’t know, it is one of those rare days when our blog post will have an interview with two folks answering instead of one [Insert a goofy a smiley here]

Today we have Seth Chodosh and Joshua Stine, the men behind Running Paws, as our guests under the “Our Heroes” series of interviews. These guys are all about dogs, dogs and dogs and here’s what we barked talked about [Insert another silly smiley here]… Here’s the interview:

DD: Who are you and what kind of corporate job were you at?

J&S: Joshua Stine – After graduating from NYU (Stern)  I was hired by Goldman Sachs.  I spent several years there as a project manager managing multi-million dollar firm-wide initiatives before joining Seth at Running Paws.

Seth Chodosh – After finishing Pace’s MBA program I founded Running Paws as a part-time business. My focus at Pace was international business, and it followed up on my previous experience in Lima, Peru, running a start-up kiosk business.

DD: What made you leave the job? When did you realize that you wanted to be an entrepreneur & why?

J&S: Josh – I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be an entrepreneur. That’s always been the goal. Whether in school or working in the pinnacle of an industry, such as working for Goldman, my eye has always been looking for an opportunity. When Seth approached me with the idea of us doing this together it was a no-brainer for me. We had a well defined niche that was intuitive to our target audience (dog owners); dogs like to run. I realized immediately that we could build a nice business around this concept.
2003, like today, was a tough economic time. The mood on Wall Street could be described as frustrated at best and the outlook was bleak, so for me, it was just time for a change.

Seth – Shortly after receiving my MBA from Pace a close friend of mine adopted a Yellow Lab, Amber, from the pound. As I was in the process of interviewing for jobs I had some free time and my friend asked me to help him with Amber for a few weeks while he interviewed dog walkers. Instead of walking with Amber I decided to jog her in the park; she loved it and I loved it. The idea struck me while walking Amber home from the park. I saw a dog walker leisurely walking with a few dogs who looked bored. Amber, by my side, was panting and I realized that strolling around the neighborhood with a walker, or in a pack, can’t be nearly enough exercise for most dogs.

DD: How did you prepare yourself for the employee to entrepreneur transition? How were the initial days/ months/ challenges?

J&S: Josh – I was lucky that at the time I was in a financially strong enough position that I could take a risk. However, I was careful to keep my relationships strong with many of my Goldman contacts in case I needed to make a return one day.
When we started Running Paws we decided that we needed custom technology solutions to meet our future needs so I learned how to program databases and web interfaces by using internet forums. Today we have a rich set of custom built applications that allow us to manage a much larger business than if we had tried to fit our business into a pre-designed software package. Part of my success when I was at Goldman was due to my ability to translate the needs or requirements of the business into technical requirements, so in a way I was already predisposed to software development principles and concepts.|

Seth – At the time I really didn’t have a lot of expenses since I had just graduated from my MBA program. Today, married with children, it would be much harder to start a business like this from the ground up again. That’s the toughest part about starting a business like this: you need to be in a position where you can survive without much income for a few years while you establish your reputation and grow your clientele.

When Josh and I decided to pursue this business full-time together we basically just jumped in head first. I think it’s a good thing to have a little fear when you start a business; you need that drive to do whatever it takes to make your business successful. And although we were both in a position to start this business we really didn’t have a safety net.

DD: What are your Top 5 tips for employees who want to be entrepreneurs but are hung up on something?

J&S: 1. I’m sure most have heard it before, but you have to believe in what you’re doing. If you don’t fully believe in your business and your ability to deliver then how can you sell it to your clients?
2. Respond to clients and potential clients as soon as possible. Although response time should be sooner rather than later make sure no client ever waits more than 24 hours.
3. Never set yourself up for failure or frustration; instead find ways to deliver more than expected. For example, if you provide estimates for your services make sure the actual numbers come in at or below estimates. Basically, under-promise and over-deliver.
4. Define a set of business principles. Make them clear and easy to understand, and follow them.
5. Continuously look for ways to improve your business through client feedback and your own observations.

DD: How are you now? Are you still in the same business, and how do you feel?

J&S: We’re now 8 years into our business and although we still consider ourselves a startup we’re beginning to see the maturation of our business. The majority of our time is now spent expanding our business through new services that we can offer our existing clients as well as moving forward with physical expansion of our dog day-care business.

Businesses like ours, that don’t require a lot of start-up capital, are extremely topical at the moment. We get so many inquiries about how we started that we developed a small side business to pass on our skill set to others in a quick two week program. The goal of the Running Paws Certified Partner Program is to help others succeed and it’s a pretty cool thing that in just a few weeks, candidates that successfully complete the program and walk away with the polish as if they’ve been in business for years, reputation included.

DD: Thank you so much Joshua and Seth for taking the time to talk to me about your entrepreneurial journey! It is wonderful to hear about two people who decided to come together and fulfill their entrepreneurial passion by helping others and their furry friends as well! I wish you both the best of luck with Running Paws and thank you for making a difference in many peoples’ and dogs’ lives!

J&S: Thank you, Devesh, for having an interest in our story and for understanding the joy that comes from being an entrepreneur! We also wish you the best of luck in the future with your blog and in all you do! Thanks again for the support!

DD: There you have it folks, Joshua Stine and Seth Chodosh, partners of Running Paws, a company which consists of three businesses, all designed to greatly please dogs and their owners: dog running, dog daycare facility (athletic club), and puppy services. Many entrepreneurs follow their dreams in order to help others while helping themselves, and Joshua and Seth are no different, though they have added canines to the list of beings they strive to make happier. Well done guys!

Success to all!!

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