Woof-Box: Lynne Morgan

Dog-lover and serial entrepreneur Lynne Morgan shares her “Graze box for dogs” subscription start-up

Name: Lynne Morgan
Age: 47
Company name: Woof-Box
Number of Employees: 1
Location: Yorkshire and the Humber
Date launched: 01/02/2014
Website: www.woof-box.co.uk

Tell us what your business does:

Our slogan is ‘delivering happiness to dogs everywhere’. Woof-Box handpicks and delivers only the healthiest, tastiest snacks, treats and other goodies to the doors of dogs across the UK.

Because every dog is different, dog owners can rate the product categories they receive each month to build a personalised preference profile for their pet. This system ensures every Woof-Box delivery contains the best selection that each individual dog will love.

This service provides a cost effective, exciting and fun way to keep dogs happy and engaged. It also gives the opportunity for dog lovers to try a huge variety of products as Woof-Box sniffs out and continues to discover new, exciting, top quality products for the monthly boxes, to keep pet owners smiling and their dog’s tails wagging.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

I am passionate about dogs. My daughter and I subscribe to Graze Box. One day last summer we were sitting in the garden with our dogs, munching on our healthy Graze Box snacks and my daughter said “wouldn’t it be great if there was a Graze Box for dogs?” I immediately saw an idea for a business.

I regularly go to Crufts and other large trade fairs where small producers exhibit their wares. Over the years I’ve come across many wonderful, unusual, natural and healthy doggie products at these trade fairs and my dogs loved them. I have always been frustrated at not being able to source these goods locally as the supermarkets and pet stores simply don’t stock the products from the small manufacturers. My mission is to seek out and deliver all the wonderful products out there, into the homes of dog-owners everywhere.

How did you know there was a market for it?

I carried out research using Google insights as well as spending time following several pet businesses such as ‘Pets at Home’ and I saw the upward trend in sales in this industry. This market growth coupled with the negative media publicity surrounding some of the ‘big brand’ dog foods and treats found to contain toxic additives, animal by-products and substances which are banned in human foods due to their carcinogenic nature made me think that a service supplying healthy, natural products would be well-received.

What were you doing before starting up?

I owned and ran a successful engineering business. We manufactured parts for coal-fired power stations, selling and exporting the goods worldwide. I had done this for 12 years and wanted to do something I’m passionate about (and I’m totally passionate about dogs) so I asked my largest client if they wanted to buy my engineering business and they said yes..!

Have you always wanted to run your own business?

I have run my own businesses for the last 21 years and I love it.

How did you raise the money?

I used some of the sale proceeds from my previous business to start Woof-Box.

Describe your business model and how you make money:

Woof-Box is a subscription service similar to Graze.com. We supply only the best, premium quality products, many of which are fresh to the market as new manufacturers emerge.

We have engaged a leading pet nutritionist who advises us on our edible items so that we are confident we are supplying the best. Our customers then rate the product categories which we supply and they can choose to receive ‘lots’ ‘some’ ‘a little’ or ‘none’ of each category. This is proving very popular as the boxes we send out are tailored to suit the needs of the individual dog.

The category ratings can be changed at any time by the customer simply logging into their account. We are able to offer great value for money to our customers as we can buy bulk quantities so are able to negotiate better prices. We also offer free delivery and our prices start at only £4.15 per week (£17.99 monthly).

What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?

Our biggest challenge is getting our website noticed and letting potential customers know about the service we offer, the quality of the goods, the value for money and the enrichment that the service brings to dog’s lives.

I spend a great deal of time working on search engine optimisation to get our website noticed. Using SEO is overcoming this issue and we are now being seen by a much wider audience. This week we have received an order from a customer in Israel.

What was your first big breakthrough?

I bought a property in a conservation area many years ago. There was a large plot of land included with the property which I could see had huge development potential. Everyone told me that I would never be granted planning permission for the plot. This made me all the more determined to obtain the planning permission to prove them wrong. It took a lot of time and a great deal of effort but I did it and made a fantastic profit.

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

In order to succeed you need drive, passion and the ability to remain focused. Always be prepared to adapt to suit the needs of your customers.

Where do you want to be in five years’ time?

I feel as though I ought to write a grand answer such as ‘global domination’ or supplying ‘millions of customers’. For me, I’ve already run an international business so when I sold that, I set this business up because I’m passionate about dogs and providing a service to make dogs happy is something I can put my heart and soul into.

In five years’ time I want to be offering the same high quality, personalised customer service that I offer today. Top quality customer service is vital, as well as top quality products so it is important to me to keep my business more personal so that I am in tune with my customer’s needs.

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