Meggie Williams is the Founder & CEO of Skiptown, the spot for pups and their people. A UNC-Chapel Hill graduate, Meggie previously worked in corporate New York City where she started a Manhattan-based dog walking business before moving back to Charlotte to grow one of the most successful start-ups in the city. The all-in-one ecosystem for bar, park, and pet care services, Skiptown is the first tech-enabled dog social club.
How did you get started in this business?
This all began back in 2016 when my husband and I started looking for a dog walker for our two pups, Stinson and Khumbu.
We wanted a reliable pet care service we could trust to come into our home and take care of our pups during the workday. Our busy schedules would often change last-minute, so being able to easily book visits same-day was really important to us. Come to find out… convenience, reliability, and love that matched our own love for our pups would be impossible to find.
We’d run out of options, and I decided if I couldn’t find what I was looking for… a pet care service that could accommodate our modern lifestyle… then I’d build it myself. Skipper was born, and, since then, I’ve made it my life mission to bring trust, adventure, and peace of mind to other pet parents like us.
What started as a one-person dog walking business has expanded to the first tech-enabled social play venture built for pups and their people. A personal frustration turned into a passion for building the highest end pet care and social experience. A place where trust and transparency guide the client experience. Where the ease of cutting-edge technology, and a clean and safe place to give you peace of mind and a chance for you and your pup to get your wiggles out.
How do you make money?
We make money in several ways:
As a service-based business, we sell dog daycare and dog boarding
With a membership model, we sell monthly and annual memberships
As a social club, we have a full-service bar and sell beverages
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
Our Skiptown facility was profitable since opening, but we operate with a net burn because we’re actively investing in HQ resources to support national expansion.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
Truthfully, no. The demand for what we’re building has never been in question. Our focus is on how we execute on solving for that demand.
How did you get your first customer?
I knew there was a need for us to find reliable pet care, and it didn’t take much to find out that there were many other dog parents in Charlotte who also needed this. Most of my first clients were dog-owning friends in Charlotte who shared similar hit-or-miss experiences with other dog-walking companies.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
Instagram ads have been a great source of new leads for us. There’s an old adage that “pups and pizza” have the best clickthrough rates on ads, and given that we work with dogs and people have fun at the bar & park, our visual assets are outstanding. Video has been just as important as photos, if not more important. We’re using classic lifestyle assets and driving traffic to a landing page to get people to download the app, or sign up for more information about everything that Skiptown has to offer.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
We’ve recently launched full-service grooming at our flagship facility – like any new product or service launch, we had to fully commit to spending the time and the money upfront to make sure we could provide the quality of service and experience that we’ve become known for across our brand’s offerings. But we had to shift resources from a lot of other projects to make it work and get it ramped up so quickly. It has paid off, and it’s going great!
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
As a business, I think success is gaining the momentum of finding the right product market fit, seeing the demand for it, and earning the trust of the people you want to serve — which we’ve done. We happen to take care of dogs, and we’re really good at it. But what we really do is sell trust. That’s what makes us successful.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
The day we opened Skiptown CLT was the MOST satisfying. But honestly, coming to work every day and spending time with my amazing team while we keep building the place for pups and their people…it’s all satisfying.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
Expansion has always been the goal. The pandemic “supercharged” those plans. Because of our large footprint and spacious outdoor area, we’ve become a sort of refuge for people looking for a safe place to hang out where their dogs can play and run around. We were able to pivot from our former dog-walking model to the Skiptown model in 2020 and expand fast with private and venture capital backing. New locations should be opening up later this year across the country.
What business books have inspired you?
The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz
Rework by Jason Fried
Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Create formative, meaningful relationships quickly, and surround yourself with people who share your same values.
Are you willing to be a mentor? If so, how should someone contact you?
Yes, you can contact me through my LinkedIn below!