How Adopting a Rescue Pup Led This Start-up Veteran to Launch a Better Pet Food Brand
Success stories

How Adopting a Rescue Pup Led This Start-up Veteran to Launch a Better Pet Food Brand

This content was created by Girlboss in partnership with Jinx.

Terri Rockovich likes to think fate played a role in how she found Blitz (right), her beloved rescue dog.

For one thing, she went into the shelter that day—over a decade ago now—looking for a female pittie mix. Having just moved to San Francisco to work in Silicon Valley’s start-up ecosystem (Rockovich would go on to be on the founding team at Casper, among other leadership roles), she missed the older dog she’d had to leave in Pittsburgh with her parents, and knew she wanted another girl pup just like her. 

Instead, she met Blitz, who was the shelter’s “test dog,” meaning he’d scored well on his socialization tests and was just in the room to help potential pet parents see how the dog they wanted to adopt would react around others. “I immediately fell in love with him,” says Rockovich. “I cannot tell you what a big role destiny played in our story, but he's truly been the biggest blessing over the past decade.” They’ve moved to three new cities together, traveled the world, and, as Rockovich says, “he's been the most grounding element of my life through so many changes and milestones.” 

Blitz is also the reason that Rockovich founded Jinx, a premium dog food brand designed with modern pet parents in mind. (Clean ingredients? Check. A taste your dog will actually enjoy? Check. A price that you can afford and on-demand delivery? Check and check.)

Once again, a twist of fate plays a part in this story—although in this case, it was a serious car accident in 2015 which left Blitz with a shattered vertebrae. It was a long, hard recovery, which included back surgery and partial paralysis. Rockovich, hand-feeding him and getting up-close-and-personal with his stool (proof pet parents will do anything for their babies!), noticed that the food he’d been eating before wasn’t sitting well with him. She tried everything—dry food, raw food, cooking him food, a prescription diet from the vet—and couldn’t find anything that Blitz liked and kept his movements healthy.

“With my best efforts behind me, I found it completely bizarre that with all of the options that existed in this category, nothing worked for my picky pup,” recalls Rockovich. Around the same time, she left New York City for California, looking for a more balanced life (and better weather, tbh). “I arrived in LA with a very clear understanding of my purpose. Instead of working for all of these start-ups and helping someone else build their dream, it was time to take a swing at my own.” 

Blitz has been by her side every step of the way, of course, with her other rescue baby, Shadow.

On how she used her experience at other start-ups to launch her own 

“The biggest learning I had leading up to this experience was to build malleable plans because start-ups pivot—a lot—and you need to be able to ride the waves and adjust. Being opportunistic is key, and making quick decisions is necessary. The biggest learning post-launch was to not be so precious about every decision. Putting something into the universe in an MVP state and collecting real data points is better than spending so much time trying to make something perfect.”

On taking an idea and making it into a real product people can buy

“We literally built a brand that we were craving as dog parents who wanted a complete and balanced food for our dogs that didn't break the bank and kept them away from the vet office outside of their annual check-ins. The process, from fundraising to launch, took almost exactly one year. We had so much conviction about the ‘why Jinx’ that making decisions were straightforward throughout the formation process.”

Terri Rockovich Jinx founder and her two dogs

On her proudest moment

“I am proud every single day that I wake up in a bed full of healthy dogs and happy humans. I appreciate the small victories, alongside the larger ones that make the press. One of our more recent milestone accomplishments was launching in over 2,100 Walmart stores nationwide. Every single person on our team was involved in making this happen, as well as some strategic external partners. We never thought we would be in this many physical environments this early in our evolution, but it's just a signal that the consumer is hungry for better options for their dogs who have become their family."

On challenges she’s overcome

“I've always heard that fundraising is hell for founders and expected it to be harder. I actually love it. I love the process, I love getting feedback, I love being challenged, I love defending and promoting what we're building. Capitalizing the business and deploying resources smartly is one of the things that I enjoy the most in my role as CEO. Don't get me wrong, it's a lot of pressure and sometimes it can get overwhelming, but all things considered, it's a really enjoyable challenge.

Now onto the Rapid Fire… Who inspires you?

“I am inspired by people with a disruptor mindset that have less of a filter on what they say and what they do, but instead, rely mainly on gut instincts to make decisions and lead. I've assembled a really solid group of female entrepreneurs and investors over the years that serve as my trusted network, and I exchange a lot of energy within that group. Sometimes it's over brunch and sometimes it's over DMs, but we all support and encourage each other, which is the way I want to live my life, propping other people up and becoming the resource I wish I had as I was making big professional decisions.

How do you unplug from work? 

“I've been trying to read more, but that comes in waves. More consistently, I go hiking with my dogs or step outside (sans cellphone) and sit in the sun and meditate. I also binge reality TV or anything that doesn't require a lot of thought processing.”

How many unread emails do you have right now?  

“Zero. I'm a psychopath with my inbox. I read everything, but I don't respond to everything.”

What do you look for in an employee? 

“When we are considering adding someone to our ecosystem, I look for qualities that I’d want on my team for any type of challenge. I gravitate toward original thinkers and people who aren’t afraid to share their unique opinions. I love when someone is so energized about the opportunity that they can’t stop talking, and they are filled with ideas on how to add value. Dog lovers are a natural fit, but anyone with an affinity toward animals is okay in my book.”

Best piece of advice you've been given? 

“Discomfort is a growth signal. Losing is learning. If you're not failing, you're not taking big enough risks.”

Worst piece of advice? 

“You only have one chance to get it right.”

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