Well Made

Ep. 111 Becoming a Forest with Henrik Werdelin

March 25, 2020 · RSS · Apple Podcasts

Barkbox hasn't followed the conventional direct-to-consumer-brand growth plan. Since launching Barkbox in 2012, Henrik Werdelin and his co-founders have launched several companion brands including Super Chewer and Bark Bright — dog dental hygiene products. 

These products may seem obvious, but the strategy behind them is not. Rather than expanding from dogs to other pets, Bark chose to dig deeper into the nuance of the dog space. Instead of launching these new products under the Barkbox product line, they launched them as new brands.

It's all part of the framework to innovate independently of brand clout and see if a concept can stand on its own. 

In this episode, Henrik takes us through his Acorn Method and shares how the method has guided major decisions around choosing Bark's companion brands, incubating new talent, and keeping their entire team dedicated to the mission of making dogs happy.

“The way that [oak trees] look at growth is not just to become a bigger tree; it's how to become a forest.”

 Becoming a Forest
 Becoming a Forest

Henrik and Stephan kick things off at the beginning — or close to it. In the early 2000s, Henrick was the Chief Creative Officer at Joost where he worked with the eventual founder of Skype. Then they dive into Prehype, a company Henrik started to help founders try and figure out their next venture. Henrik shares the philosophy of Prehype and what's come out of it so far (6:50).

Henrik believes that dogs can help us find common ground with people, even in contentious times (13:01). He shares the quirky story of how he met his Bark co-founders and his perspective on the NYC DTC startup scene in 2012 when they launched Bark (18:07).

With customer acquisition costs skyrocketing, Henrik starts taking us through his Acorn Method and the strict framework to get proof-of-concept before investing in a product idea (25:50). He shares his philosophy on growth and building a forest instead of one tree (36:16).

Finally, Henrik shares some insight about building supportive, autonomous incubation programs through Prehype (41:34), and he touches on what he's learned from being on the board of Bjarke Ingels Group (50:01)


Also mentioned on this episode: 

Innovative brands use Lumi to manage scalable and sustainable packaging.

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