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How Becky Baker turned her puppy mum struggles into the K9Nation app

by | December 3, 2020

When Becky Baker welcomed Cockapoo Buddy into her home five years ago she admits she didn’t quite know what had hit her.

Sleepless nights, toilet training and constantly worrying whether she was doing things right led her to having the ‘puppy blues.’

But she also had a lightbulb moment – if she was feeling like this then surely others were too – and she created a solution – the K9Nation app.

It started in 2017 as a rough and ready website and app that she bootstrapped bit by bit while working for a law firm.

Now it’s an amazing app and monthly podcast for pet owners and Becky has an entire team supporting her too.

I met Becky right at the start of her K9Nation mission and I am so excited to speak to her about all she has achieved.

You can listen to the interview on the player link below or carry on reading as a blog post.

Making the K9Nation idea a reality 

Becky first started working on K9Nation five years ago when she had the lightbulb moment for the app.

Working as a software product manager in the legal world, she had access to techies who could help her get started.

At the beginning she was scrimping and saving and every spare penny went into developing her fledgling app.

Becky recalled: “That’s why it took me so long to get to where I am. Those first two years I would work my full time day job, scrape what I could from what was leftover after my bills.

“I’d think, ‘I’ve got this amount this month for the developer. What’s that going to get me?’”

Becky and Buddy back in 2017 at the start of her K9Nation PR journey

In 2019, the sad loss of a colleague made Becky take a leap of faith with K9Nation

Becky was working in legal services and one of her colleagues was killed in a road accident.

It inspired her to quit her job and go on the #PawsOnTour trip to find the most dog friendly place in Britain.

She said: “It was one of those punch you in the face moments and you just think life is too short. 

“I just thought, ‘you know what, there’s more to life than this, I need to do something with K9Nation. I’ve got a gut feeling. I can’t ignore it, I can’t just let it go. It’s go hard or go home.’ 

“It was very well paid secure job, and I bought a motor home, which I have never done in my entire life, branded it up with K9Nation and off I went.”

Buddy at one of the many Paws On Tour meet ups

The tour meant the message got out about K9Nation

Becky and Buddy had press across the UK and even appeared on The One Show talking about their road trip. 

And when she came back she realised to make the app happen, she needed help.

Becky recalled: “It’s hard to admit that to yourself sometimes because you want to be protective. Your idea, your business, it’s like your baby. It’s something you’ve grown. 

“But I needed help financially, support from experts who’ve done this kind of thing before. I’ve got great ideas, but I know where I’ve got gaps in my skill set. 

“I realised it’s better to have a part of something than 100% of nothing and I’d reached my limit of where I could take it as an individual.”

Becky and Buddy

Becky joined an accelerator and during lockdown took part in Pitch Fest

It works like an online Dragon’s Den, with entrepreneurs pitching to investors.

She wowed them and secured investment this summer. 

One of the things that helped her stand out was the media coverage she’d achieved on her own.

Becky said: “It was something that one of my investors in particular refers back to quite a lot, because there was a slide in my pitch deck of press coverage, a whole site. 

“And when you’ve only got 14 slides, and you have a whole one dedicated to press coverage, it  shows how important it is. 

“They say when you know when you’re in the entrepreneur world, and you’re looking for investment, it’s 25 per cent the idea and 75 per cent the person that people invest in. 

“The press was demonstrative of the fact that I was a grafter, I was taking things into my own hands, I could get stuff done on a very limited budget.”

Now with a team behind her, K9Nation is gathering pace

Becky says she’s still very hands with K9Nation but also loves having help with marketing, social media and having support and expert input.

She also has focus groups of pet owners and people with pet businesses to help shape the app and ensure it’s going in the right direction.

She said: “Now, the quality of the product is so much better. We’ve got the podcast, we’ve got some really exciting stuff coming up. 

“The biggest thing for me is the support I’ve got now from people who buy into the vision of what we’re trying to create just as much as me.

“Plus we’ve adopted focus groups, so a group of dog owners that we regularly talk to, and a group of pet businesses.

“We are trying to build something that is fit for purpose, that is what people actually want. We have to validate all our ideas, and let them steer us in terms of what we do next.”

The key to the success of K9Nation has been Becky never giving up

A straight talking Yorkshire lass, Becky says there is no such thing as an overnight success.

“I think anyone that thinks you start up a business and boom, you go viral, it just doesn’t happen,” she says. 

“I’ve been slogging away for three years. And I’m still only just seeing light at the end of the tunnel. 

“It’s tough. It’s been my partner and my family that have kept me going when I’ve really hit those low moments.”

Becky also wants to shatter the myth that to be successful, you need to spend loads of money on marketing and PR

She said: “One of the things I’ve learned is, don’t assume other people can do it better than you as the business owner, as an individual. 

“There’s a lot of myths around, like, ‘Oh, I need to use a big PR agency, or it’s going to cost a fortune to do this.’ 

“I’ve learned it along the way and you can do a lot of this stuff yourself, if you take the time to research, find people who can give you affordable, expert advice.

“You  don’t have to have huge budgets behind you, and think like a massive company. It’s about being creative and there is so much that you can learn to do yourself.”

Becky says she is more than happy to chat to anyone who would like her support and you can contact her via the K9Nation website at www.k9nation.dog

Links mentioned in this episode:

Find out more about Becky on the K9Nation website: https://k9nation.dog/

Read Becky’s first story about the K9Nation app from back in 2018:

Do you have post puppy depression?

Becky’s coverage of Paws on Tour:

Animal lover and her Cockapoo hunt for Britain’s most dog friendly destination

Becky’s K9Clean Up coverage:

Dog lover launches K9CleanUp campaign for Dogs Trust

How determined Becky secured funding:

Social media platform for dogs secures £250,000 investment

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