We had the good fortune of connecting with April Prohaska and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi April, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I had worked in the corporate world for 7.5 years and in 1999 was laid off. It was the motivating stepping stone for me to pursue my passion working with animals. In early 2000, I started my own in home pet sitting business called Paws Professional Pet Services offering in-home care and pet taxi services. After successfully growing that business to have over 1600 clients within the first two years and adding five employees, I was driven to pursue a broader spectrum in the pet services industry that had not previously been pursued. I had a vision to collaborate on and create an all-encompassing pet facility offering day care, boarding, retail and grooming and merging it with the social aspect of pet owners having a place to congregate and socialize with their pets. After two years of creating my business plan and marketing outline, In 2005 I opened The Pooch Patio LLC . I created the first pet facility in the country bringing together high-quality pet services with a beer and wine bar and coffee house. I opened my very small facility in a 3300 sq. ft. renovated space in the heart of Oak Lawn in Dallas. Within two short years, I was recognized as the premiere place in the country to congregate and socialize with your pets. My focus was offering a one-stop shop for pet owners to drop off their pets for a day of socialization and a spa treatment on their way to work, grabbing an espresso or their favorite coffee beverage and then picking them up at the end of day and enjoying a yappy hour with friends on our patio. The social aspect grew to incorporate creating and hosting dog parties, a wide variety of specialty dog bakery items, home-baked mutt meals to go, fresh bakery items for birthday parties, onsite adoptions, meet n’ greets for rescue groups and an overall fun alternative to socialize with your pet while enjoying a glass of wine or a cold beer. In 2018, after thirteen years in operation, my dream to move The Pooch Patio to a much larger and more professional space came to fruition. I moved to a 10,000 sq. foot space creating an even more expansive dog oasis destination focusing on our service offerings which includes suite boarding, pack play day care with indoor and outdoor turfed yards, professional grooming, full-service bathing, dog training, cat boarding, pet taxi services, dog parties and a retail storefront. It was very important for me to continue to provide high quality services and not to compromise on our customer service through the expansion.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
It was very empowering for me at such an early age to be so driven to succeed. I attribute so much of my entrepreneurial spirit to my experiences I gained being employed at AudioNet, Broadcast.com and Yahoo! I graduated from CU Boulder in Psychology with an emphasis in Special Education. I initially thought that I wanted to become a counselor for language and behavior toddlers with learning disabilities and challenges, however my focus quickly changed after being submerged in a new start-up company where all of us were asked to work very long hours, to wear many different hats and to learn through experience. It was the single most challenging time, but extremely rewarding.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I now consider myself a local since I have resided in Dallas for over 25 years. It is an extremely cosmopolitan city that has so much to offer. I consider myself a true “foodie” and love to cook and entertain at home, however there are so many amazing restaurants in the city. One of my all-time favorite places to take friends visiting for a craft cocktail or an exceptional meal was Wolfgang Puck’s Five Sixty restaurant at the top of Reunion Tower. It had the most amazing views of the the Dallas skyline. Unfortunately, it closed in May. My favorite food is Mexican and there just too many places to choose for my tex-mex fix and my love of margaritas. I adore Mesero, especially the Mesero Prestonwood location, Jose on Lovers, Mi Cocina, Mia’s and Javier’s. I have three dogs and love to frequent the Katy Trail for exercise and people watching, as well as park anywhere in Highland Park and walk through the glorious neighborhood. I also love trekking out to Cedar Hill State Park to enjoy the hiking trails for an outdoor excursion. For my friend’s that enjoy a good Texas Steakhouse, I recommend Pappa’s Brothers or Bob’s because of their amazing food and service, but adore Italian food at Taverna and the patio and menu at Toulouse on Knox.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
After leaving Southwest Airlines in 1994 where I was based in Chicago, I chose to move to Dallas to reside, I had the good fortune of meeting and gaining employment in one of Mark Cuban’s up and coming start-up technology companies, AudioNet. I not only was very driven and empowered to learn from such a brilliant businessman who pushed his employees to do their very best and to give 100% every day, but was afforded the opportunity to excel and grow in so many areas under one umbrella that I do not feel I ever could have had a similar opportunity elsewhere. I was very blessed to be at the right place at the right time and to have gained experience in operations, basic administration, programming, computer technology, live event production, vendor services, management and customer service. I am very thankful for the opportunity to have been a part of one of Mark’s successful business creations and to know that it was my involvement with this company that has driven my entrepreneurial spirit in my own businesses today.
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