New York-based startup leads growth of Franklinton neighborhood
When your booming New York-based startup is exceeding expectations and growing across the country, where should you go next? For BARK, expansion to Ohio was a perfect fit. Known for their subscription service BarkBox and Super Chewer, the company creates toys, treats and experiences for dogs and their owners. With one look around their office, you can tell BARK puts its emphasis on man’s best friend. Employees are encouraged to bring their dogs to work, new toy models cover the walls, and meeting spaces are themed around famous pups, K9 movie references and inside jokes.
“We define our success by making dogs happy,” said Hernan Giraldo, vice president of customer experience operations. “We’re a team focused on creating products, services and experiences that accomplish that mission. We’re just constantly looking for opportunities to connect with dog parents and extend that reach.”
In 2015, BARK moved a small team into a cramped office in Columbus’ popular Short North neighborhood to establish its Midwest presence. Four years later, with its subscription model setting it apart from other dog-toy brands, the company’s Ohio presence had expanded so rapidly BARK had to find a new home that could accommodate its growth.
“In my four years at BARK, I’ve seen years where we’ve doubled in size and years where we’ve grown by 30 percent; that’s really exciting to be a part of,” said Giraldo. “We launched in Columbus with a team of eight and now we have over 200 team members in the office and an additional 70 people working remotely. By the holiday season, we’ll grow another 20 or 30 percent. When we outgrew our previous office space, we were looking for a partnership that could accommodate our growth but represent more than just a landlord.”
BARK found the partner they were looking for in Gravity, a forward-thinking office space by Kaufman Development in Columbus’ emerging Franklinton neighborhood. They now reside in two open floors bathed in natural light and filled with places for employees and their dogs to relax and play. With a rooftop view of downtown Columbus and room for future expansion, BARK has solidified its new home where Giraldo and his colleagues are proud to be one of the first major tenants.
“Franklinton really appealed to us, and Kaufman has been a great partner,” said Giraldo. “We’re committed to the belief that we can influence our community. It’s not about just being a company and driving capitalism – it’s about finding something meaningful to be a part of. We want to be a good partner in Columbus. When a brand is interested in Columbus, we’re the first to open our doors and talk to fellow startups and entrepreneurs about the potential the city has. We’re very proud of that.”
BARK has plans to continue growing in Columbus and beyond. The company has teamed up with several local rescue shelters and Giraldo said they want to cultivate a variety of community partnerships. And although their roots are in New York, BARK’s expansion to Ohio has been an overwhelming success and helping launch the company into the future.
“It’s been an amazing experience,” said Giraldo. “We’re very proud of the immense talent pool we’ve been able to attract here — 97 percent of our leadership board started through entry-level roles and has been able to grow and support the needs of the business. I think Columbus provides a nice balance of a homey feel with big-city amenities that a lot of professionals seek out.”