Moms who are mothers to both human kids and fur babies known that we’d do anything for our pets (and our kids!). That’s why we related so much to the story of Tom Arrix, a former Facebook executive who launched Get Joy in 2018 after his family’s pup, Cooper, was diagnosed with lymphoma. After speaking with top veterinarians and nutritionists about the role food had in pet health, he set out to create the best dog food from the finest ingredients that could maximize Cooper quality of life and eventually, wellness for all dogs.
Tom and his wife live in Darien, CT and now have two golden retrievers, Eddie (10) and Theo (2). They also have four children, Sam (22, a recent Wake Forest graduate), Annie (21, also at Wake Forest), Kit (20, and a sophomore at Boston College) and Thomas (15 and a high school freshman). We spoke to this CEO and dad about his passion for Get Joy, his commitment to promoting being active with your dog, and what’s next for the brand.
Ready for your pet to try this amazing dog food? You can buy any of the Get Joy products at getjoyfood.com, at the Pop Up Store at 1096 Post Road, Darien or come meet the team at their events this summer. Use code MOMSNETWORK for 20% off through July.
Could you please share a bit more about how Cooper inspired this product?
Very happy to— After Cooper’s diagnosis, I started working with Dr. Kendra Pope, who is now our company advisor, and learned how healing was possible through nutrition. After following Dr. Pope’s suggestion of feeding fresh ingredients like you would to your kids, we created a “farm-to-bowl” regimen, which our brand is now based around. Thanks to his improved nutritional regimen, our better understanding of nutrition, Cooper lived another 20 wonderful months with our family.
Such an inspiring back story! You were an executive central to the growth of Facebook, at a pivotal point in the company’s history, from 2006-2013. How did that experience help you become the entrepreneur you are today?
My time at Facebook was invaluable for 3 reasons –
- It taught me the importance and power of having great, passionate, intellectually curious, and respectful people on my team. Without great talent, great humans it becomes hard to embark on a venture like Get Joy. Together we’ve created a culture of transparency – open dialogue and listening to others.
- Move Fast! At Facebook, we always said we were “building a plane in flight” and the people who understood that dynamic could move mountains. They thrived in a world of uncertainty and speed, which are critical for a startup. At Get Joy, we talk about moving fast every single day. We’re in an exciting industry so we focus on speed of actions and speed of pushing new ideas. It’s not reckless abandon but it’s the speed dynamic that allows for “testing and iterating”. We believe “done is better than perfect” because if a product or an initiative is done, it’s in a position where it can be improved upon. We can become disruptors amongst a pretty, slow-moving industry and that’s an incredible position to be in.
- How to scale a business. How we prepare our fresh meals, ship our products to our customers, anticipate inventory needs all get pulled into our plan to scale the company. You can’t scale and create efficiencies by always adding people and cost. We are always thinking and planning for the day we are servicing tens, hundreds of thousands, even millions of customers. Ultimately, what tools and technology solutions can bring efficiencies to our business operation.
Why is being active with your dogs such a big part of your brand?
We’re a dog wellness company and the great majority of the 70+ million dog homes in the US are thinking about their animal in just about everything they do. There is a huge shift in the humanization of our pets which means more committed time with them. What they eat is more important, how your dog participates in family activities like walks, hikes, travel, beach days, and ultimately, how your dog becomes a more intimate part of your life, are all very important.
On a personal level, I love taking our dogs off leash. In the Spring through Fall, we take them to the beach for early morning runs, it’s their time to cruise. We’re a skiing family so the winters are equally as fun for me and them. Finding the spaces so they can get the exercise they need is important for their overall health.
Agreed! What are you most proud of in terms of Get Joy?
Our mission is to improve the lives of families through dog nutrition and health. We’re so encouraged by the progress we’re making.
I love the early impact we’ve seen from our customers. We listen to our customers 24/7. We hear and read their feedback on how fresh nutrition is making a huge difference in their animal’s life. Their dog is leaner, has more energy, has a better coat, all signals that the nutrition is making a difference. It’s why we created the company. Our purpose was to create products that would impact the lives of dogs. It’s happening! We have two of the greatest words for our brand – Get Joy. The dog’s impact on a joyful home is real.
When we think about community, we go deeper, we zero in on dog wellness. A community environment where people share, educate, learn and ultimately become better dog parents because of the broader community – whether online, on social platforms, our Pop-Up stores or in the Metaverse’s Get Joy Dog Zone. Our community is growing and has become a place for everyone. We have a lot of work ahead of us, but it is exciting and encouraging to see Get Joy’s growth.
Q: Do you have any tips for anyone trying Get Joy (or any new food) for the first time with their pet?
Most dogs need a little time to adjust to any new food, so we recommend transitioning over the course of a week to Get Joy’s new and better diet. First two days- 25% GJ food, 75% old food. Days 3 & 4- 50% GJ food, 50% old food. Days 5 & 6- 75% GJ food, 25% old food. Day 7- 100% GJ food. If your pet is extra sensitive to change, add one or two days to each stage for a more gradual transition. We test every single batch of food before sending it to the customer ensuring its nutrition and safety.
What do you hear most from dog parents you meet?
Getting to know our customers face to face at various events has given us a chance to really understand who they are and what they value. The feedback has been very positive, and they love the fact that we are not just selling a product but promoting a healthy lifestyle. You’ll continue to see us around Fairfield County at farmers markets, concerts, parades and conducting yoga/fitness classes with your dogs. We want to blur the lines between people and pets and our dog families are excited by it too. It’s all one!
What’s next for the brand?
We’re committed to focusing on dog wellness. We started our journey with great Fresh Meal nutrition and will continue to evolve our offerings like Freeze Dried Raw and Treats. We’re really excited about adding human grade Bone Broth in the Fall. We’re also addressing consumers who want to feed their dog fresh foods but can’t afford it. So essentially, we plan to widen the lens of potential customers so more dog parents can make the shift to fresh nutrition. It is our responsibility to take care of these amazing animals and nutrition is the best place to start!
Another very important element of our wellness plan are wellness services. July 1st, we will be offering all our subscribers a chance to leverage a free “TELE-HEALTH” service called Get Joy Health – that offers live chat or video calls with vets on our staff. More and more dog parents are taking their dogs wellness into their own hands. We see it daily with nutrition and now can offer our customers access to Vet Clinicians and Veterinarians to answer any questions that might exist. Questions like: Is feeding fresh food a smart approach or my dog is low on energy and its allergy season – everyday questions that shouldn’t be googled. It should be answered by a professionally trained person without the cost of going to the Vet. We’re not replacing the Veterinarian; we’re providing a 24 hour service to better inform all our dog parents when they need it most. Get Joy Health is a very logical and powerful step forward for us.