April 01, 2018

By Hope Martin ’19

Chris Gonzalez ’08, an economics and finance double major, recently cofounded Barkly Pets, a dog-walking app that matches owners and on-demand, trained and insured dog walkers.

Chris Gonzalez ’08 (far right) with other Barkly Pets cofounders

After graduating from Susquehanna, Gonzalez joined CNN as a financial analyst after having completed an internship there the previous summer. He later served as director of finance and remained with CNN and Time Warner for several years before launching Barkly.

“We created Barkly out of our frustration with the available options for pet care. The industry hadn’t changed since the leash was invented and wasn’t meeting the needs of today’s working professionals,” Gonzalez says.

Currently available in New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., the Barkly app enables owners to customize their bookings to their dogs’ specific needs and schedule, and monitor the progress of the walks and the care that their dogs receive.

Tired of traditional dog-walking businesses that formed in neighborhoods and often led to underpaid and undervalued dog walkers controlled by a middleman, the Barkly team decided to build technology that would allow them to transfer value to the walkers.

“We recognize that you entrust us with the care of a beloved family member, and we carry this responsibility with humility and pride. We guarantee to deliver individualized care and … built features for you to take every step of the walk with us,” the app’s website states.

In March, the startup won the 2017-18 Pet Care Innovation Prize, a global competition powered by Purina.

Gonzalez attributes much of the app’s success to the Susquehanna alumni network and his education in the Sigmund Weis School of Business. While he and his cofounder were working on getting the business up and running, plenty of fellow alumni offered their support and expertise.

He says the business curriculum gave him a solid foundation in accounting, finance and economics that led to the strategic thinking that is crucial when building a business with limited resources. In addition, his experience as an economics tutor gave him teaching skills that translated to good management skills down the line.

Gonzalez recently visited with Sigmund Weis School of Business students in the Entrepreneurial Experience class to share his story and business success.

“If things don’t break your way, it’s not the world working against you. The ability to understand and improve your shortcomings helps you move much faster toward success and attaining your goals,” Gonzalez said.