This week’s episode of the Tartare Project hosted by Phil Toronto features Jacob Zuppke, President and COO of Autopets. Autopets is most known for their innovative pet care products such as the ‘Litter Robot,’ and the company aims to deliver meaningful insights through their high-grade products to assist in making better decisions for pets. Priding themselves on their development, marketing, and elite customer service, Autopets continues to rapidly grow their company as they establish themselves as one of the leaders in quality pet care and accessories. Zuppke spoke with Toronto in a nearly 40-minute conversation that covered his early childhood, the beginning stages of his career, and the developmental strategies behind Autopets.
Taking some steps back, Toronto and Zuppke discuss his childhood in Bloomfield, Michigan, how he viewed school growing up, and his very first business venture at sixteen. “When I turned sixteen, my buddy and I started TJ Bagel, which was a Sunday morning bagel delivery route,” he says, reminiscing about his teenage entrepreneurial days. “We would get up early and go to a bagel place near us called Brooklyn Bagel and pack up everyone’s order and deliver them. We did that for about a year-and-a-half, and it didn’t really turn into much. It was a fun hobby business where we could make a little bit of money, but it was the first real business entity that we filed for and learned that process.”
After diving into more of Zuppke’s early businesses, the conversation progresses into Zuppke’s decision to join Autopets and how he has approached each phase of his career. “It definitely wasn’t all rainbows, but I came to a head where I realized that my partner and I were no longer having fun growing the business together,” he tells Toronto. “I recognized that I am somebody who wants to be in business with a partner, and it’s hard to do that if you don’t enjoy each other’s company all the time or don’t want to have some form of a relationship outside of a business one. I was young and really wanted a mentor, and I felt like it was something that I wasn’t necessarily getting a piece of. I want to have fun with what I’m doing, and looking back, I’ve never had more fun than what I’ve had at Autopets.”