We recently spoke with Carmelo Mastrangelo, one of the founders of Pop Your Pup, a popular website for animal lovers, founded on and driven by keeping their customers happy and excited with products they will treasure for years. Read more about how Pop Your Pup started, and how Breakout was able to help them achieve new levels of success in 2017!
Tell us about Pop Your Pup! How did you get started and what was the motivation for starting the business?
Pop Your Pup is an interactive online brand where patrons can create one of a kind products of their pet in pop art. The inspiration came to Anthony, one of the founders, from a piece of apparel he owned. It was a black t-shirt with a cool art piece of a bear on it. He thought, “it would be great to make this for our sister of her Labrador!” Then, the company was born. Founded by Anthony Mastrangelo and Marco Ventura, the two produced Pop Your Pup products and other various branded products out of a small garage. Eventually, I pitched to come on board (Carmelo Mastrangelo, Anthony’s twin brother) and since we have moved into 3 new offices due to growth and 23 team members, all with the motivation of making a community loved brand.
It’s not only for dogs, is it?
NOPE! We design any animal given to us. We have had pet llamas, goats, monkeys, birds, cats, and more!
As a small business owner, what kinds of challenges or bumps have you faced along the road since the business started and how have you worked through those?
As a growing small business looking to expand, we have had many problems to overcome. Those problems range from staffing, to marketing needs, to capital needs, cash management, growing pains, to even hurricanes and natural disasters. Our main process to tackle and hurdle every obstacle is communication, focus and prioritization. With the company’s best interest always in mind, we develop and prioritize goals and utilize the available resources at our disposal to achieve the success necessary to move forward.
Your business has a great online and social media presence! Do you handle this yourself or do you work with a marketing agency/team?
All social impact is handled in-house by ownership and a select few individuals known as our social impact team. A very large part of revenue and overall success as a brand has come from the social branding we developed across various platforms, spearheaded with Instagram (@popyourpup)!
What advice can you pass on to other small business owners on using social media for advertising and promotion?
Our advice would be to commit to the brand you would like to be and engage. Most companies view it as a way to just market themselves, but social media is also a tool that can be used to portray your company, team and goals to your community. By establishing yourself and engaging, people can feel more in tune with the company goals and standards and be more inclined to purchase. Also, social media success does not always and is not always valued in dollars. Engaging with a community has allowed us to evolve and grow into a company people enjoy watching succeed and communicate with. Eventually they may become customers, but our followers are fans and they help direct our company to success.
Is this your first time getting an online loan for your business? If not, how were those other experiences?
This was our first time accessing capital and it was a tremendous experience overall. Breakout Capital made it easy and guided us in understanding what we were getting into and helped us make the best decision for our company.
What goals were you looking to accomplish with your loan from Breakout?
At the time, the loan was very important for us because it was a part of many initiatives we had in place. First, it allowed us to put forth a marketing campaign at a peak holiday time that allowed us to increase exposure and optimize our holiday campaign. Secondly, we were able to secure the purchase of another piece of equipment essential to production and operations flow. Lastly, it allowed us the cash on hand to purchase inventory as sales fluctuated and increased through the holiday season.
Did the funding benefit your business?
Yes! The biggest benefit was the optimization of the holiday season (Mother’s Day and Father’s Day), which spiked revenue and allowed us to take on more initiatives throughout the rest of the year. The loan was the catalyst to a very successful 3rd and 4th quarter.
Why did you decide to choose to go with Breakout for this loan?
Overall quality of the experience was the deciding factor. I was in talks with multiple companies and Breakout had the best responsiveness, direction in paperwork, and the easiest process overall.
Do you have any advice to give to other small businesses about what questions to ask when looking at a lender for capital?
Being a first-time recipient, we have a pretty easy payment schedule and have not really dealt with any hiccups yet. Outside of the financial structure of the loan, I would recommend asking the variance of flexibility offered and how the company can help during your loan payment process.
It’s obvious you love animals, especially dogs – do you have other passions your pursue when you are not working on growing Pup your Pup?
Outside of Pop Your Pup, we are all very different. Passions vary drastically but we love entrepreneurship and creating greatness. One goal may be another company in the near future!
Breakout Capital is proud to have helped Pop Your Pup and we look forward to seeing their continued success!