Millennial Minds: He Quit His Finance Job To Start Successful Dog Walking Business

Cara Kovacs
Cara Kovacs is a writer, blogger, and stylist who's work has been published across most mediums on topics ranging from fashion and beauty to sex and relationships as well as travel and food. An expert on being 20-something, she enjoyed Soul Cycle, kale salads, and corgis.

The current economic climate, as well as the changing nature of the job market and the influence of the World Wide Web, has forced millennials to be quick and creative thinkers when navigating how to build their careers post-college. The stories of those among us who have truly thought outside of the box to find their success are both important and inspiring. In case you missed the first installation in our new series highlighting our awesome peers, take a look back here.

Today you will hear the story of Chris Turi, a former professional basketball player whose quick stint in finance inspired him to build a life for himself doing something most of us view as a pleasant leisure activity. Turi started Bark Ave, an Upper East Side-based dog walking business, in 2010. This was during the peak of the job market crisis, when walking away from a cushy corporate gig to start your own company was a massive risk. Today, five years later, Bark Ave has opened two locations flanking Central Park and has over 170 clients.

Turi gave us the gift of not only his story, but tips for being your own boss and building a successful business from the ground up.

Post-college Chris Turi was touring Europe as a professional basketball player when a career-ending injury forced him to reevaluate his trajectory. He moved to New York, became a stock broker, and quickly resigned himself a being chained to a desk for 12 hours a day making cold calls to client after client. His work load was so crippling that he didn’t even have time to come home and walk his dog. However, when Turi began to look for a reputable walker, his search appeared a bit fruitless, with many companies walking dozens of dogs at once, providing little thought to the quality of care to the animals.

One day at the dog park Turi met a woman who happened to be nearing retirement from the dog walking business. Unhappy at work and a natural dog-lover with a lifetime of training experience, Chris’ meeting with her sparked an idea that would eventually become his livelihood. What appeared to be a happy accident was the catalyst that let Turi take a leap of faith to quit his finance job and start Bark Ave. Starting small, Chris bought a heating gun at the local hardware store and carved the company name and website into tennis balls. He would leave them in dog parks across the Upper East Side. Owners would play fetch with these unique ads and reach out to him.

yayaIn the past five years Turi has grown his company from a name on some tennis balls to a partnership with his best friend and a brick and mortar doggy day care. Though he warns that being a business owner means being on-call 24 hours a day, it also provides him the freedom to travel and schedule his own life as he pleases. He provides budding business owners with the following nuggets of advice:

If you pursue a business endeavor, make sure you have passion for it. Without passion, there won’t be success. Also, if you currently have a stable income then continue to work in your day job until your business has sufficient income to leave. (Lastly,) If you start a business with a partner make sure you know him/her very well. I started the business with my childhood best friend and have the most utmost respect for him. The reason he was a great addition was because I knew I wanted the ability to take vacations (or a break) if need be, and vice-versa.

Chris also warns about doing your research and being preemptive with your business as it grows: 

“One difficult aspect I quickly learned was to hire professionals for anything you don’t quite understand. As your business grows you’ll need lawyer(s) and accountant(s) to help you with either legal jargon or taxes. Another was hiring trustful employees. When we started the business (Dillon, my business partner and I) we did all of the walking ourselves. With time we grew quickly and needed to hire additional help. We decided to begin rigorous background check and anyone whom applied, and we ended up coming up with great results.”

It goes without saying that Chris had the determination and creativity to push his business from concept to success, and that it is the hiccups and hurdles on this path that dissuade a lot of nervous 20somethings from running with their ideas in a similar way. Easier said than done, just making the attempt is the first step. Chris said that the paperwork for Bark Ave took only a few short weeks, and that today with the use of social media and the internet, overhead costs for starting a new business are relatively minimal depending on the concept. Arming yourself with the proper knowledge of where to begin, as well as being determined can help you escape your desk job, too. For more resources for starting your own business check out Legal Zoom, the ultimate resource for navigating business procedures no matter where you live!

Stories like Chris’ are amazing, but also a lot more common than you may expect. Make sure to follow along with the Millennial Minds series to read about more quick-ass millennials! If you or someone you know may be a good feature, please e-mail the author at [email protected]

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