Westfield, MA August 2016
Ali and Nick Connor worked for a combined 40 years in what they call Corporate America, holding management positions and rising up the ladder of responsibility with companies like Sears, Walmart and Staples. While proud of their career success, they dreamed of owning a business to create financial and lifestyle independence for their family. As crazy as it sounds, their dog, a yellow Labrador Retriever named Riley, led them into the world of entrepreneurship.
As they researched different business opportunities, the Connors were drawn to their passion for all things dog and dog care. Both Ali and Nick were animal shelter volunteers, and while still working in the corporate world, they experimented with the doggie day care model, enrolling Riley in a program. We were hooked. Riley loved daycare and always had a good time with her doggie friends, Ali says. Riley would come home exhausted and well behaved.
After extensive research, the Connors found that dog day care is a high-growth industry, and they identified a need for the services in Westfield. The Connors then proceeded to find and renovate the right location with funds from Common Capital, and they created Camp K-9, through which they offer Doggie Day Camp, Sleepovers, Bathing and Brushing and an Indoor Dog Park and Fungility Gym for their canine friends.
As Camp K-9 grew, Common Capital provided help through its Business Assistance Program: Jen Turner offered accounting expertise; Ruth Griggs and her team at The Creative offered marketing consulting; and the Common Capital staff also provided support. As Ali and Nick say, Common Capital support does not end with the money. It really helps make your dreams come true.
Ali and Nick advice for entrepreneurs considering a start-up business is simple. Make sure you are and that failure is not an option. Nick says, it is not easy, so know yourself and be confident and committed to succeeding because complacency is also not an option.
Ali and Nick, life-long Western Mass residents, say the biggest rewards working for themselves and the unexpected strong support from the community. After all, dogs are family members, and the trust families place in Camp K-9 is rewarding on a daily basis to the Connors.
After one year, the business continues to grow, adding more capacity for day care, overnight boarding and a variety of spa services. The passion the Connors have for their families and dogs has created a loyal following. You can follow them yourselves on Facebook!