Customer Story: Patrick from Grubbly Farms
Welcome Patrick! Tell us: Grubbly Farms in 2016 versus Grubbly Farms today: What are the similarities? What are the differences?
So much has changed in the last 6 years. It’s truly insane.
But the core motivation has not changed, and the reason why we started the business hasn’t changed either. And that really comes down to sustainability. We’re still pushing for a closed agricultural loop and attempting to bring to market a more sustainable source of protein that is as healthy for our pets as it is for the planet.
But where we fit in the value chain - that’s changed a bit. In 2016, we were growing our own grubs (used for chicken feed) - so all of our efforts were spent in R&D, trying to make the best product available for industrial consumption.
And then in 2018 - we put a stop to that. We just didn’t see the ROI. That’s when we shifted to sell Direct To Consumer. We started working with existing manufacturers to build out our product line, and we shifted all of our attention to connect and communicate with the individual pet owner. Whether that’s a parent of 12 chickens or a dog owner.
Tell us about the product range. Which is the hero product?
Our first product is called “Grubblies” which are oven-dried black soldier fly grubs, a healthy snack for backyard chickens that is rich in protein. We also offer chicken feed, which is becoming our most popular product. “Fresh Pecks” is a fully formulated layer feed for chickens, and “Little Pecks” is Grubbly’s feed for baby chicks. And we’ve recently launched our newest grub-based recipe called “Vroomies, healthy snacks for dogs that are rich in antioxidants for healthy joints and hips.
So who are your customers? And how do you acquire customers with your D2C approach?
Our customers are primarily “pet parents” who have backyard chickens and/or dogs. Chicken parents don't see their flock as a means to something else (whether that’s eggs or money) - they treat them as pets. Their chickens have names, they feed them high quality foods, and stay within beautiful coops. Our dog parents are similar - they want to feed their best friend the best foods so they can live a long, happy and healthy life.
In terms of acquisition: Like any good D2C company, we relied on Facebook. But as every marketer knows: In the past 12-14 months, Facebook has really fallen off a cliff in terms of performance.
So we’ve been working on diversifying our customer acquisition, by expanding efforts on SEO and SEM, but also looking at affiliate, and partnership/ influencer based marketing. We actually sponsor 2 chicken TV shows in the US.
You've built a thriving subscription business. What’s the secret to its success?
I really do wish that I could share a playbook to follow - but the reality is that we’re still refining our own.
In general - our products are consumables. So it makes a lot of sense for us to have a subscription component. Categories like apparel are naturally trickier to launch subscriptions with.
After that - the key is to unlock product market fit. A large portion of our customer base becomes subscribers, and our churn rate is half of the industry average. And I really think that’s because we found Product Market Fit: We offer the highest quality natural feed available within the US. If we didn’t operate as a market leader in some way, shape or form, we’d struggle.
From there, another important factor is having a really good customer experience - especially with subscription. I'm not gonna say that I like getting customer complaints, because I certainly would prefer that we never disappoint our customers, but we look at those as opportunities to really show the heart of Grubbly (and how we can make it right!). We bend over backwards for our customers - and I think that’s another reason why we’ve been so successful with our subscriptions.
Talk to us about the website journey. How has Storetasker fit into that?
So I've acted as our CTO for the company. I've set up all of our online operations - even way back when we weren't even on Shopify. Since then, we’ve moved to Shopify and recently went through a rebrand in 2021 with Red Antler.
While we absolutely love the new brand, we are constantly working to improve the site experience to better serve and delight our customers. I firmly believe in endless iterative improvements and am always looking for new ways to increase our performance. That's where having a partner like Storetasker really comes into play.
It’s become super powerful for us to have somebody as reliable and fast as Paul on call. He’s been taking on the vast majority of our internal projects in the past 2 months and I finally feel like I can take a breath.
We now have features like “out of stock” notifications (created in 2 days); we migrated to Recharge and customized our entire subscription experience in a matter of a week or two; and we have a ton of projects we want to implement in Q2 (site speed optimization, data analytics and pixel tracking etc).
So I can say with 100% confidence that I would have far less hair if it wasn’t for Paul and Storetasker. It has been a true pleasure to work with him and am super excited to keep him busy.
Fantastic to hear. So what are you most excited about right now?
Well it was only just a week ago that we launched our first dog product: Vroomies. It’s a hip and joint formula, filled with essential oils and minerals that support dogs that have deteriorating bone or cartilage mass or arthritis. And our first week was phenomenal.
Beyond that, we're looking to go deeper in the backyard chicken market, continuing to develop products that aid with egg nutrition to proteins and amino acids to support feather growth. As well as developing a whole product line for dogs - so all of that will keep us very busy!
One last question from us: If you could attribute most of your success to one thing: What would it be?
The passion of the team.
Working in a startup is not easy. There are certainly things that we get to enjoy that corporate people don't get to, but there is still a lot of stress that comes with a startup.
And so we absolutely would not be here today without the people we’ve brought on. Our team comes in every day with a smile, eager to make a difference. That’s what helped us most over the past 6 years.
Thanks a million Patrick - Great working with you and we can’t wait to see the new developments!