The Modern Paws of Hillsborough County
Ben and Lisa Prakobkit have always had a love for animals – particularly dogs. “We are very much pet driven,” Lisa said. “We love caring for them, finding out ways to get them nutrition.”
Thus began The Modern Paws, a pet boutique dedicated to same-day delivery of healthy options for pets. “We actually started off as a e-commerce pet boutique offering same day delivery of all your pet foods, toys, treats, supplements,” Ben said.
As the duo prepares to open their first retail space, thanks to Duckweed, another small business opening in the Channelside area, they recognize the instrumental partnerships that have assisted them in getting this far.
“We’ve always been both very hardworking individuals and we’ve always wanted to own our own business,” Ben said. “Unfortunately, as with anything in life, there’s always that first step and a lot of uncertainty. The reason why we reached out to the SBDC is so that they could give us some guidance, right from the beginning.”
The duo enrolled in the Startup Series – a series of essential business seminars for anyone interesting in starting a business the right way. The Series covers entity selection, marketing, finances, and more.
“It really is for startup,” Ben said. “If you know absolutely nothing about starting up your own business – they went from the very beginning and helped us through the process.”
Upon completing the Series, they met with business consultant James Chittenden, who walked them through properly selecting an entity and getting registered with the state of Florida. “He was one of the professionals that talked to us about how to set it up as well as how to get it going and he actually [taught] two of the classes that we took,” Lisa said.
Since starting their business, the duo has taken it from a strictly e-commerce venture, to a pop-up business at various events in Tampa. They are now looking forward to getting their own shelf space in Duckweed, a local store opening in the Channelside area, soon.
“It’s been small steps along the way but we’re getting to the big picture of eventually having our own store,” Ben said.
While they are excited about the future, they know that the Florida SBDC at University of South Florida is a resource they can use along the way. “The SBDC is a great tool in order to not only start a business but also grow a business,” Lisa said.
“Sometimes you might also have some questions that you think might not be intelligent to ask somebody about, but all the instructors, all the help at SBDC, guide you along the way. If you ever need help with anything, you can just shoot them an email or give them a call, and they’re always willing to help,” Ben added.