By Leslie Youngblood
Welcome to the second edition of Tenacity Tales, our new series that highlights the grit and determination of owners and entrepreneurs all across America.
We're beyond stoked to bring you an exclusive chat with Jonathan Azevedo, the founder of ZenCrate. ZenCrate is the first-ever, smart anti-anxiety dog crate that took Kickstarter by storm and is changing the way people everywhere are helping their favorite canines.
What’s the obstacle that you’ve overcome that you’re most proud of?
In 2014, I developed the original ZenCrate for my own dog, Charger, to help ease his anxiety. Then I started to wonder – “What if others would like to help their dog in the same way?”
So I launched a KickStarter campaign, and we hit our funding goal within days. That was my ‘OMG HOW AM I GOING TO DO THIS?!’ moment - at that point, it all became real, and I realized I would have to quickly find a place to build out a full-scale manufacturing facility right here in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
What do you know now that you wish you’d known then?
I wish I’d been more familiar with eCommerce! It is such a fluid platform which is constantly changing, and there’s been massive innovation in the way online sales are conducted.
ZenCrate wouldn't be as successful as it is without our robust eCommerce platform.
What’s your best advice to other small business owners?
Definitely don’t sweat the small stuff.
I’ve seen too many people try to plan their business out in so much detail that it never launches. Have a high-level, well thought-out plan, certainly, but then it’s time to dive in and DO it. The rest will be figured out along the way!
What’s a typical day like for you?
I wake up at 6:30am for my morning workout, and am usually at work by 8:00am. Luckily, I am able to bring both my dogs with me into the office, so my workday usually starts out with playing with the both of them.
Then they settle down and I focus on whatever the day brings. Since we have nearly every aspect of our business in-house, there is no single day which is the same as the next. The variety is part of the fun!
What’s next for ZenCrate?
We’re constantly looking for ways to expand the company in ethical, eco-friendly, and responsible ways. We just started producing a raised dog bowl stand out of the plywood left over from ZenCrate manufacturing, and we’ve created a removable door for the original ZenCrate.
We’re also about to launch two other new products, the ZenCrate Mini and an all-natural, GMO and grain-free dog treat called ZenBites.
The ZenCrate Mini is a project we’ve been planning for a while; it’s our next generation anti-anxiety smart dog crate. We’ve specifically designed this for dogs at or under 30 lbs, and we’ll be offering it in several new colors.
For the ZenBites, we have arranged with The Eisenhower Center to employ Americans with disabilities to hand craft our dog treats, and we’re really excited about that partnership!
Want more from Jonathan, Charger and ZenCrate?