Tom Arrix joined Facebook in New York City in 2006 when the social media giant only had 100 employees in the city. In seven years with Facebook Arrix rose to vice president of marketing for the company.
Joy CEO Tom Arrix with his two best friends.
2019 AW Taylor Photography
“We were starting to shift our focus to the biggest and best advertising market in the world, which was New York,” Arrix said.
Working from home in Darien, Connecticut, at first, Arrix traveled frequently to Facebook headquarters in California, as well as to many offices the company had around the country.
“We slowly but surely started to build out our office in New York,” Arrix said. “We started with a small office in midtown Manhattan in the spring of 2007. The rest is history.”
Today, Arrix said, Facebook has about 9,000 employees in New York City. Arrix left in 2013, having learned something about himself from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, he said.
“Mark was really insistent that in life you should do the thing you love to do, spread your wings, take on new challenges,” Arrix said.
Arrix realized that he loved building a business, living in a world of uncertainty, without a playbook for what to do every day. But as the business got bigger and bigger, and the daily routine became more and more standardized, Arrix found himself wanting to move on.
Think of Joy as farm-to-table for dogs.
“It’s OK to take on new chapters in your life,” Arrix said. “Open up a whole new adventure.”
That’s when Arrix had the idea for his company, Joy. Launched six months ago, Joy is a direct result of Arrix’s oldest of two Golden Retrievers falling ill in 2018. Arrix was told by a veterinarian to feed Cooper the way he would feed himself. He began making fresh, home-cooked meals for his ailing Golden.
“I consider my two dogs my fifth and sixth children,” Arrix said.
Arrix began to think about how to combine his marketing experience at Facebook with his new obsession with providing “human-grade ingredients” for dogs.
“It’s an incredibly exciting segment of the dog food space, which continues to grow,” Arrix said. “I believe just as fresh ingredients and farm-to-table eating transcended our lives as humans, the same trend will accelerate for dog owners.”
Joy is a direct-to-consumer business.
“Consumers find us via social platforms and through word of mouth,” Arrix said. “People come to the site to learn about why we do it and how we do it. They have the ability to give us good data points about their dog so we can provide custom meal options based off of the dog’s weight and activity level.”
Arrix uses ingredients like ground turkey, cauliflower and fish oil to prepare Joy’s dog meals, which are perishable and have to be shipped with frozen gel packs to keep them fresh.
Arrix thinks of his dogs as his fifth and sixth children.
2019 AW Taylor Photography
“In a perfect world, we hope we are on the road to replacing as many kibble experiences out there as we can,” Arrix said.
In addition to full meals, Joy offers a topper, or mix-in, for customers who want a less expensive alternative.
“We want to offer them a chance to mix in smaller sized portions of the same ingredients in the kibble,” Arrix said.
Joy delivers 14 single-serve meals at a pop, which can be put in the freezer and defrosted just in time for Fido to partake. The cost depends on the size of your dog, but Arrix said it can range from as little as $2.32 per meal to as much as five or six dollars. That’s considerably more than even high-end kibble will cost you.
Basically, it’s about $75 a week. Fresh cooked meals with premium ingredients for your dog don’t come cheap.
“One of the pieces we’re really focused on is building a community of wellness education,” Arrix said. “We’re trying to demystify the notion that’s it’s too expensive.”
Arrix has five full-time employees and three part-time employees. He’s moving the business out of his house and into a facility in South Norwalk, Connecticut, with a commercial kitchen.
“We’ve been cooking out of my kitchen since the spring when we were testing,” Arrix said. “When we went live with the business we continued to run it out of my house.”
The UPS truck would arrive every Wednesday afternoon to pick up that week’s shipments, he said.
“Wherever the business goes we’re super confident in the things we’re doing,” Arrix said. “We’re thinking about the dogs first. The business will accelerate behind it.”