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June 18, 2013 / maxpproductions

Ryan Kelly of Ryan’s Barkery and Shark Tank Success – Part 1

Ryan Kelly

Ryan Kelly

Ryan is a young entrepreneur who owns Ryan’s Barkery, a company dedicated to bringing the highest quality and tastiest all-natural treats to dogs everywhere.

It was his adopted dog, Barkley, who ultimately inspired Ryan to start his own business. After adopting him from an animal shelter, his mom and dad stopped at a pet store to buy some tasty treats to welcome Barkley into the family. But, unfortunately, the treats weren’t so welcoming, the smell sent both pet and owners scurrying towards the hills. And that is when Ryan declared he could bake a much better, tastier treat that his dog would love.

I first became aware of Ryan on his unforgettable performance on Shark Tank, the hit show on Friday nights that makes American dreams come true. Here at Max P. Productions we are dedicated to teaching children animal compassion and success and Ryan was and is the epitome of both and so I wanted to learn about how this young boy, now 11-years old, began.

Ryan, I want to start off by saying that I am very excited about you and the great things you have done and are doing. You are a great inspiration to me and thousands of others and I am honored that you have chosen to do this interview with us.

Ryan and Barbara

Ryan and Barbara

I was very impressed by your performance on Shark Tank. You were knowledgeable about your product and the finances. You were also very delightful and calm. How did you prepare for your pitch?

I know my business pretty well! Mom and I knew how much each ounce costs, each bag, each treat, the packaging, and how much we paid for other things, like the table and sign we bought. First rule of Shark Tank = KNOW THE NUMBERS!! I watched recorded Shark Tank episodes until I learned what each Shark was like, and what questions they like to ask. Kevin O’Leary always asks about royalties. Barbara wants to know how she’s going to make her money back. Robert loves, loves, loves dogs. Daymond likes to license things. Mark tells stories about when he was a kid. I was not nervous, which was good, and I just got up there and told the truth. I knew I had a business that was making money and had very little debt.

Most children and adults find numbers and math challenging.  You demonstrated a great understanding of your numbers on Shark Tank. Have you always been comfortable with numbers and what advice would you give to children who are struggling with math?

I’ve always liked math, it makes sense to me. I have had great teachers, too. It’s very important to know your numbers on Shark Tank. It lets the Sharks know you are prepared, and that you know your business well. It can also show what you are really good at and what you need help with. If you have great sales, it shows them you are a good salesperson. If your costs are high, it can tell them that you might need to do more research, plan better, or need to sell more of something to drive the cost down.

I would tell someone struggling with math that first of all, everyone struggles with something. Second, I would tell them that something that can help with math is concentration. Distractions make it harder, so turn off the TV and your iPod.

What inspired you to want to make your dog biscuits into a business venture as opposed to a hobby?

I’ve thought of things I could do since I was little. I’ve had lemonade stands, I’ve shoveled walkways, and I’ve sold my Halloween candy on the bus. The difference with a hobby is that you do it when you feel like it. A business is something that you make a promise to do every day. People start to count on it being there. People started looking for my treats at every adoption event, and I needed to make sure they could get them every time they went.

Ryan and Barkley

Ryan and Barkley

What inspired you to get up at 5am every morning before school when most kids are still asleep to focus on your business?

I always get up early. I don’t like to be rushed. I can make some dough so my mom can help bake while I’m at school.

I think it’s amazing that you’re paying your mom back the $200 she put into your venture, what made you decide to pay her back?

I have to, it’s good not to owe anyone money if you don’t have to. She said it’s a good lesson. Mark Cuban would NOT let that go…

How do you come up with your marketing ideas and do you come up with them on your own?

Selling them in the neighborhood kind of happened on its own, some people started asking where the treats came from when their dogs loved them so much. They started buying from me, then they told people at work, and I started selling more of them. Selling them at adoption events was my mom’s and my idea. We saw a sign advertising for the event by my house and thought it would be the perfect place! Dog lovers all in one place, and I already have things in common with them like adoption and wanting to give the dogs the very best treats. Once the adoption events are over, I give the treats that I don’t sell away to people with dogs with our phone number on the bag. I bring them to lacrosse practice or stick them in mailboxes of people that I know have dogs so they can try them and call me for more.

Were you nervous when you presented your first dog biscuit to your friends and what was their reaction?

I was a little nervous, but my friends are great. We all are very different, but always support each other. They are very happy for me and are part of “Team Barkery”. They spend some of their free time helping me sell on weekends sometimes.

Were any of your friends inspired by you to start their own businesses? And if so, what are they doing?

Ryan, Barbara, and Team Barkery

Ryan, Barbara, and Team Barkery

I had one friend start a human cookie baking business. My cousin started a comic book sale with his friends in Florida. I know someone who took a case of his mom’s olive oil and she caught him selling it in front of the house!

When I was a child I didn’t even know about shelters. I only found out about them 6 years ago, how do you know about shelters at such a young age?

I know about shelters because my dog Barkley came from one. Also, once we started selling our treats, we were invited to sell at adoption events for shelter dogs with Stamford Animal Relief and Pet Assistance. I’ve learned a LOT about dog adoption from them.

Ryan and Barkley

Ryan and Barkley

I noticed that you made it a point to mention that Barkley was adopted, was it intentional to reference that he was adopted and why?

I guess I always mention that he is adopted, it’s just a habit. If people know they can adopt really cool dogs instead of buying them, there would be less dogs in the shelters. Why buy a dog when you can save a dog?

Are you active in animal rescue and what exactly do you do to help sheltered animals?

I’ve been working closely with Stamford Animal Relief and Pet Assistance for over a year. I have and will still give part of my money back to them. Plus, I put out a tip jar on my table marked for them and dump it before I go home. This money goes to pay for medical bills and food for dogs whose owners can’t afford it anymore, like if they lost their job. This way they don’t have to put the dog in the shelter to begin with. Now that Ryan’s Barkery is bigger than it was last year, we give all of our treats that are a little over baked or not perfectly shaped to the dogs in the shelter near my house. I bet they don’t get a ton of treats, and I bet they love them.

What are your plans for building your business? Do you see this as a long-term venture into adulthood?

My plans for building my business…now that a lot more people know about my product, I would like to be in more stores so people everywhere can get my treats for their dogs! We are working on new flavors, and a grain free treat for dogs with allergies.

I’m working really hard to make Ryan’s Barkery a long term success! My mom and Barbara and I work closely together, and I’m learning so much.

To learn more about Ryan’s Barkery and their tasty treats for your animal family, please visit Ryan’s website at

I want to thank you, Ryan, for this in-depth interview. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know you and hearing your thoughts about your involvement in animal shelters, your success with Ryan’s Barkery and hearing about your plans for the future, which I have no doubt will come to fruition.

But wait, this interview is not over. We are honored to have had the opportunity to speak with Ryan’s mom, Daniela, who has also been an inspiration to me and many other parents. To read about Daniela and how wonderful it feels to be a part of this awesome journey with her son and entire family click here!

Max P. Productions is a children’s book publisher focused on empowering children through story. The information in this interview is copyright 2013 Max P. Productions. Use of this interview in part or in whole must be granted by Max P. Productions. Please contact us at cs at maxpproductions dot com if you wish to use the content in this interview. Thank you.


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