Doreen Wong: Welcome everyone to Canine Caviar Google Hangout 16. One of the questions that we had posted from one of our pet parents is “who is Jeff Baker” and I think that because you travel so much and people’s perception of Canine Caviar is that it’s this big huge company, I think that they think that you’re this international jet setting executive, so I wanted to bring down some of those walls for our pet parents and let them get to know who you are.
Jeff Baker: That couldn’t be further from the truth.
Doreen Wong: So I know that you’re going to give us a tour of your apartment and you’re going to show us some bus passes in a little bit, but why don’t you share with our pet parents where you grew up. I think people also have the understanding that you’re a southern California native, but you actually grew up in North Dakota.
Jeff Baker: Yeah, I was born in a small town of less than 500 people and with nothing even remotely close by there. North Dakota is I think the 17th largest state but the lowest population of any state in the United States. And then we moved to another town in North Dakota where I went to school and it was the biggest town in 100-mile radius and there were 6000 people, so very small towns. And then we moved to California when I was 16 and finished high school there and then I didn’t go to University right away, I took some time off and just did some working because I wasn’t quite ready to move on yet, so after one year I went to University and I studied Animal Sciences, Pharmacology and Nutrition with the goal of being a lawyer and a research scientist for the European Union.
I studied Animal Sciences at Cal Poly Pomona, I studied German and Pharmacology at Long Beach, and I studied a little Business as well, mostly to have an understanding of when I was a lawyer and having to deal with business people. And then I graduated and I went to the University of Germany to study International Law with the intention of being a lawyer for the European Union for contract law for the pharmaceutical industry. But then I took an internship with a pharmaceutical company in Germany and I liked it and at the end of the internship they offered me a job so I went to work for them as a research scientist. We did some projects and one of the projects ultimately led to the pet industry and when this company sold to an Italian firm I ended up moving back to the Untied states and this is when we started Canine Caviar. We were already making the food for our own pet at this time.
Doreen Wong: So a lot of people probably thought that you went to business school or you always had this mission or passion to go into the pet industry but it actually happened organically.
Jeff Baker: I had no intention or ever even dreamed of being in the pet industry, I had a dog and I loved him dearly but never did I think “oh, I’m going to make his food for him.” If someone had said what I was going to do I would’ve told him or her they were crazy.
Doreen Wong: And now look, you’ve created a whole company. And a foundation. A whole company and a foundation.
Jeff Baker: In life I think that happens a lot of times, we have what we think is going to be out path or our destination in life and we become sidetracked or other interests or opportunities come along. In the end I’m glad I didn’t become a lawyer because the only reason I wanted to be a lawyer was to be in the courtroom because I liked the thinking process of it but a lawyer spends 2-3% of their time in the courtroom and the rest of it reading and writing.
Doreen Wong: So you travel probably 90% of the year?
Jeff Baker: At least 300 days a year, so people think it’s glamorous but when you’re in the airplane more than the pilot it’s not so glamorous. You still have a 12-16 hour work day and on average I’m receiving 150-200 emails a day, we’re doing these hangouts, we do seminars with veterinarians, with stores, we’re talking to distributors. In fact one year I flew 300,000 miles, and this is the reason I’m now spending more time in one place because I think I spent 47 days in an airplane. So now this is why I’m spending time in Europe, spending time in Asia, because it’s easier for us to develop that business and we have a really good team with Bob Vella in America so it’s not requiring my time to be there.
Doreen Wong: So people also probably think that you have a very glamorous life, you know flying back and forth internationally but you’re very frugal when it comes to your lifestyle and your transportation. Do you want to show everyone your bus passes for the week?
Jeff Baker: So we believe strongly in putting our money into the company, nobody here is wasting our money from the customers, I’m living in an apartment that is 400-500 square feet and I’ll be here for 4 months and here is my transportation for the week, these are local bus passes, so I’m traveling locally with public transportation or our distribution partners are transporting me around. Here you will see my spacious kitchen and here is the dining room and the living room and as you can tell I have not left the chair. So this is the entire place. When I’m in America I no longer have a place there, I’m staying with family, so we couldn’t’ be further from the truth about someone saying it’s a glamorous lifestyle. If you don’t mind not seeing family, friends and only seeing the inside of a building and the inside of an airplane and working 18-20 hours a day, it’s really glamorous.
Doreen Wong: So that’s the commitment you’ve made to our pet parents and to Canine Caviar, really giving a lot of your own time to be able to share the information. I mean, I really appreciate you taking time out of your schedule to do these hangouts. I know today that you’re are really tired because you just flew back into Prague, maybe a few hours ago after having to work the entire weekend. I appreciate you spending time with us and showing us your glamour life.
Jeff Baker: You know, it’s a choice, you know, I mean I chose not to have a family, my family is our company and our distribution partners, and everyone that’s involved with our company, it’s really a family for us, and this is why we try to be so accessible to everybody. I don’t have a wife, I don’t have kids, I only have this and everyone is brothers and sisters or nieces and nephews or whatever you want to call them, it’s a choice.
Doreen Wong: I know that the people who asked “who is Jeff Baker” will really enjoy this hangout. I think it shows people who you are, the real you, not the perception of what we might have of you. Thank you so much for joining us on Canine Caviar Google Hangout 16.