Roy Stein: BabelBark

BabelBark is a disruptive technology company that provides the world’s first and only horizontal digital platform for the pet industry.

The Challenge

The pet products and services market is growing rapidly, regardless of macroeconomic conditions. Pets have become an increasingly important part of our individual and family home environment. Economically, spending on pets is increasing at more than 10 percent per year. In 2019, the market size was more than $80 billion in the U.S. alone, with more than half of the growth among millennials. Reports already forecast a global market size of $241 billion by 2025, with a six percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR). 

However, the pet industry is a latecomer to the digital era. There are thousands of standalone apps that service small segments of the market. A review of the overall digital world revealed that it is the large aggregator platforms which are attracting consumers, e.g., Etsy, Expedia, Airbnb, etc. We recognized there was not one platform in the pet space that connected the different needs pet owners require—from veterinarians to pet stores, and pet services like walkers, groomers, trainers, food, and medications. This opportunity presented the potential for massive disruption if we could solve this challenge.

My Role

Co-Founder and CEO 

I was the CO-founder/CEO of BabelBark, a pet care technology company I conceptualized with my partner when we recognized a unique market opportunity to create a digital platform that would link every aspect of care in a pet’s life together in one place. As a founder, my overall responsibility was in Operations, Finance, HR, and in developing partnerships with leading companies in the animal health space. My specific expertise was in Operations, the result of over 20 years of operational experience as an operations manager across public and private companies at all levels, and as a CEO of startups. Additionally, I built and/or reshaped operations in new business units and subsidiaries of large or mid-market companies, with a focus on team building and employee buy-in.

The Work

BabelBark was built over the course of five years to be a mega platform for the pet industry, and was the world’s first holistic platform for the entire pet ecosystem. Our overall strategy was to capture and consolidate data from untapped supply (pets, veterinary clinics, and pet businesses, then use this data to enable latent demand (services, promotions, and payments).

  • Recruited, led and managed team of industry experts and top talent that drove forward the concept and brought it to fruition.
  • Led three rounds of capital raise over five years.
  • Drove the marketing efforts across classic and new age digital, resulting in broad acceptance ranging from speaking invitations in leading industry conferences to articles and trade publications. 
  • Managed the partner program which utilized force multipliers, resulting in BabelBark becoming a well known industry name and one of the leading apps in the space.

The Outcome

Led by an exceptional team of market leaders and a stellar team, the company underwent three rounds of capital raises. During that time, hundreds of thousands of pet owners joined the platform and were connected to thousands of pet-focused businesses and veterinary clinics. We achieved a 400 percent plus growth in business users in 18 months and grew consumer use by more than 500 percent, with 10 million API (Application Programming Interface) sessions, in a period of six months. With an agile and visible social media strategy, 50 million impressions were delivered across Google and Facebook ad networks. There were 100,000 app downloads at 75 cents conversion cost, and a 4.3-star lifetime rating across Apple App Store and Google Play.

Ryan Kavanaugh famously said, ‘The key is to embrace disruption and change early. Don’t react to it decades later. You can’t fight innovation.’ We found it was crucial to understand the specific market and then “back into it” with a product that will solve a real need. Do your market research and thoroughly understand the value you can create—and then act on it. 

––Roy Stein, Co-Founder and CEO