1036
6 min 49 sec

Teenpreneur Skips College to Build Pet Care Company

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What It's About

A teen wags off college, walks her own path, and finds howling success.

Business Model
Service
Skills Required
Organization & Management
Complexity
Low
Profit Potential
Medium

Words of Wisdom

Kathryn recognizes the importance of relationships in her side hustle success, "You know the saying it takes a village? Find your village! I have so many friends and mentors who have encouraged, corrected, and taught me every step of the way. I owe all my success to my amazing village."

Fun Fact

10% of all Happy Hound profits go directly to local missions and animal rescues.

Notes from Chris

Episode 1036
Just about any 8-year-old can walk a dog. But how many of those kids turn a few bucks into a full-blown business that’s hiring employees by age 20?

That’s exactly what Kathryn Cockrell did. Kathryn loved walking dogs for her neighbors … and when she was old enough, she got a job at a kennel. It was there that she realized there weren’t enough pet care options available in her community.

As a high school sophomore, Kathryn’s parents very kindly–and perhaps somewhat naively–let her set up a kennel in the basement and backyard of the family home. She spent $97 on her first order of pet gear, a number that sounded huge at the time. This allowed her to install a dog grooming station in the basement, while the backyard was converted into a dog park.

At just 15 years old, Kathryn’s pet care prices were set low, which brought in business. As the home-based, after-school operation grew, dogs barking all hours of the day and night became a real issue. So once business was booming, Kathryn’s parents encouraged her to move the entrepreneurial endeavors to a new location. Kathryn continued to operate Happy Hound Pet Sitting all through high school. Then, when it was time to go to college, she chose to go a different direction. She set a goal of only working for herself, moving out, and proving she wasn’t crazy for not taking advantage of the college fund her parents had saved up.

This felt like a gamble, as nearly all of Kathryn’s peers were going on to higher education. The sense of vulnerability hasn’t really gone away, as Kathryn confesses to still worrying about what would happen if her business somehow failed.

But it didn’t. By age 19, Kathryn was making her own living and had moved out of her parents’ house-slash-dog park. By age 20, she was hiring team members and management to help meet the demand of her business, Happy Hound Pet Sitting. And by age 23, she had a second branch in the works.

Today, Happy Hound brings in $15,000 per month in high season. Revenue in the business is seasonal and can get down to $6,000 in low months. For this reason, Kathryn carefully times any major expenses, pays her sitters only on commission, and maintains a savings account year-round.

While the Alabama branch has become more or less self-sustaining, Kathryn has spent the past year replicating her business in a new location. By analyzing the website’s Google presence, she saw which nearby cities had the highest search volume for Happy Hound’s specific type of service. With some further market research, she could also determine which cities were underserved.

Replicating the business has been more challenging and slower-going than Kathryn expected, but things are slowly starting to snowball. By learning from the situation, she plans to help her team members create their own branches down the line and potentially franchise the Happy Hound company.

Still in her mid-20’s, Kathryn’s early dog obsession and high school side hustle has already resulted in a decade of experience.

 
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Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,

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Quote of the Day
"Find your village! I have so many friends and mentors who have encouraged, corrected, and taught me every step of the way. I owe all my success to my amazing village."
—Kathryn Cockrell #SideHustleSchool

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau